Friday, May 8, 2009

Better late than never...

Well, I am finally getting started on my conditioning for the 2009 ride season. I know, very late! But I got delayed with health reasons, and doctor said I couldn't ride! Hubby insisted I listen to doctor. Pshhht! What do they know?!

We have been staying in the saddle all winter with awesome lessons with Ashley Fudge, a coach in Centered Riding principals. It's amazing how that arena work has improved our trail riding! We even dabbled a bit in Dressage, and were talking about an all-Gotland drill team. I feel so much better out there!

It's finally spring here in Manitoba (if you don't count today in Selkirk - it's snowing!). Bird's Hill Park is drying out nicely, and there are several trails that are dry enough for riding already. Some have small pools of water over the grass, but the ponies hooves don't sink deep.

Here is the Blue Kiln trail on our first ride on April 27th. It was a beautiful day! The sun was warm and bright and there was a light breeze, just enough to keep our still shaggy ponies cool.

I set out with friends Michele and Ilonka, who were riding Willow's two offspring, Huckleberry and Mayberry. They are 4 and 5 years old, respectively. And it was Huck's first trail ride! Michele and Ilonka have been taking lessons with the same coach as me all winter, and have taken huge strides forward with their young horses. I am a little (OK, a lot!) in love with Huck. He is as handsome as his sire and very athletic! So they actually were all in decent shape to begin with. We did lots of trotting in the sand in lessons and so they were pretty well built up legs.

Just look at how relaxed Michele and Huck are for their first trail ride... though he was convinced the huge rocks at the side of the trail were out to eat him... He spent much of the ride out in front, leading. She has a very brave horse and they should have a great time as they settle in.

I wore my Garmin 401, the heart rate monitor and GPS unit, all on a small wrist monitor. My newest toy!!! Hubby got it for me for Xmas. Love that man; he always knows what to get me! So I hooked it up to Willow for the ride, here are our results...

We rode about 4.5 miles in about 1 hour 15 minutes. This gives us an average pace of 3.7 mph, not enough to complete a Limited Distance ride, but a good start for our training. As you can see Willow was pretty anxious, with a high heart rate much of the time. I kept looking down and being surprised to see she was at 200+ bpm, and yet felt and looked completely relaxed.

Here is a better caption of the speed graph. I love this program it is so fun to check out your workout! I was surprised to see some of the speeds we reached, as we were just trotting; and Willow is under 13hh. There were times where her kids couldn't keep up with her power trot, and had to canter to keep up. I can never tell when we go too fast; Willow has such a big stride and feels effortless that I don't notice our speed.

We didn't go far and we didn't go fast but at least we finally got out there! There have been two more such rides in the last week, and I will try to post more pictures as we go!