"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Saturday, November 2, 2013

5 miles per hour

I haven't posted much detail about my recent rides. We've been averaging anywhere from 3.4 mph to 4 mph. The last 2 weeks we've ridden on the trail mostly with company, and sometimes I've forgotten to turn Endomondo on.

Friday dawned rainy and dreary. I was going to go on a long trail ride with Mary but we ended up cancelling due to the weather. I decided I'd go in the early afternoon and just do an arena dressage ride.

I tacked up Lily and by then one of the boarders had arrived for a lesson. The trainer was ok with me riding in the arena at the same time, so I started out with a long walk warm-up on Lily, doing tons of lateral work: shoulder-in in straight lines and circles, haunches-in, leg yields, baby half-pass, turn on the haunches, turn on the forehand. We'd do a series of moves, then I'd let Lily stretch. All of this at the walk.

By then, the day had become absolutely beautiful and warmed up. I decided to go out on the trail.

I figured I'd just do the loop in the back woods a couple of times and put in a 6 mile ride. I didn't boot up Lily due to a combination of not wanting her to cool down too much while getting the boots on + needing to send the boots back and God forbid something happened to them. (I think we finally have this sizing thing figured out!!!) So we went barefoot.

Lily marched up the bridle path, walking right past a huge excavator right smack in the way and surprising the owner of the excavator when she didn't even react to the machinery. She better not: one of those used to go past her stall twice a day every day when Alex and John were cleaning stalls at the old barn!

She trotted quietly through the lawn where she usually spazzes out and we continued trotting through the woods. The footing was great. As we trotted up the first hill in the forest, I changed my plans entirely: I wanted to ride out to Four Corners, and I wanted to break our 4 mph pace. The clay road past Four Corners would be excellent for putting in a nice canter.

*The lawn that leads to the back woods.
We trotted on and off out that way, staying on the grass next to the gravelly dirt road. Lily was sticky and every so often would try to zig-zag until I caught her, "I see you! Quit!"

*Walked/trotted on the grass by this gravelly road.
*The farm.
We rode past the farm with its huge soybean fields and through the grass path that leads onto the second stretch of gravelly dirt road past sod fields. Once there, we trotted on and off, staying on the grassy edge by the road. We can ride there as long as we don't step onto the sod itself.

The grass ends before the gravel does, so at this point Lily walked gingerly, going "Ow ow ow!"**
We made it onto the clay road.

"OW OW OW!" Lily said.
Me: "Which hoof hurts?"
Lily: "All of them?!"
Me: "Walk on for a step or two so I can figure it out."
Lily: "Ok."
Walks normally. Then again: "Ow ow ow!"
I swing off, check all of her feet, pick them with the end of the dressage whip.
Me: "There!" I mount back up.
She looks at me over her shoulder. "I thought we were done."
Me: "Who said we're done? Let's trot!"
Lily: Stands still. "No."
Me: "Let's walk?"
Lily: "You got off. We're done."
Me: "No we're not! Walk!"
Lily: "I DON'T WANNA. You got off! We're done!"
Me: "GRRRR!!"
Lily: "Ok. I'll walk. But I just want you to know that I really don't want to do as you say!" She obeys reluctantly, albeit soundly, giving me antler ears. (Antler ears = "I will buck if you irritate me enough.")

Lily: "I'll walk veeeeeeeeeery sloooooooooowly and maybe you'll decide we should turn around..."
Me: "No! Trot then!"
Lily: "Ugh! Ok!" Trots slowly.
Me: "Ok, you're going to canter up this hill."
Lily: "I hate you."
Me: " But you LIKE cantering up hills! You wanted to canter last time we came up this way with Willa and Queenie."
Lily: "I was the Herd Leader then. It's different."
Me: "No it's not. Canter pweeeeeease?"
Lily: "GRRRR..." She canters.
We make it to the top of the hill.

The hill that we cantered.
Me: "Good girl! We can turn around now because you were so good."
Lily: "YAAAAAY CAAAAANTERRRR!!! Canter all the way home!"
Me: "NO! We're trotting."
Lily: "You're NO FUN!" She trots.
Lily: "Canter now?" She trots faster.
Me: "Okay, you can canter now."
We gallop back up the clay road and come to a walk at Four Corners.
Me: "Just walk now. I don't want you to be ouchy on the gravel."
Lily: "Good idea!"
We make it onto the grass strip by the side of the gravel road.
Me: "Ok but you have to stay on the grass."
Lily trots. "OW OW OW!"
Me: "I told you you had to stay on the grass!"
Lily: "Why can't we go over here where it's soft? That way we can canter ALL THE WAY HOME!" She tries to move onto the sod that we're forbidden to ride on.
Me: "Lily NO! We walk then."
Lily: "UGH. Okay."
We walk all the way up the gravel road and make it onto the grass path between the soybean fields.
Me: "Okay, but you can't spook at the grass."
Lily: "What are you talking about? I never spook at the grass."
Me: "Uh-huh. Right..."

We canter up the grass path, then continue at a trot past the farm buildings. A very fast trot because Lily still wanted to canter. I couldn't help laughing out loud at her.

We walked the rest of the way back, up until we reached the woods. We picked up a trot in the woods again, did the new loop, then galloped up the Hill of Doom.

Lily: "I WILL JUMP ALL THE THINGS!!!" as she leaps over the branches and small trees in the way on her gallop up the Hill.
Me: "WHEEEE!..." Seriously, it cracks me up to see her so confident and actually having fun.

We walked the rest of the way home.

Her pulse was 60 after 10 minutes walking immediately after the gallop on the Hill of Doom. (It was warm out that day and she had a small lather on her chest, despite the mini clip I gave her.) Lily received a bath, her grain, hay, and a flake of alfalfa: her "protein shake" after her workout.

The tiniest low trace clip.

I left the fur on her chest to keep her warm when it's cold outside. We're getting more cold than warm days.
I may change this later; she did sweat a lot on this rider despite this clip.
We did 6.17 miles in 1 hour and 19 minutes. We did the first 5 miles in 1 hour and 3 minutes. Average speed for the entire ride (including the last mile that was mostly walking) was 4.7 mph, with a maximum speed of 13.9 mph.

Mission accomplished!

* If these photos look familiar, it's because they're recycled from previous posts. I just like to illustrate where we are.
** The gravelly road is ouchy to most barefoot horses. Even Deja, who has the best, hardest feet in the barn, is ouchy on that gravel. It's very fine, pointy, sharp gravel. It's nice that the owners of the soybean and sod fields let us ride on the grass by the road.


  1. Congrats! I have the same goal that I'm hoping to work on next month:)

    1. I'm sure you two will get there no problem! :)