Have you created a training plan yet?

March is a tough time of year for getting out riding.  I don’t know about you, but by this time, I am no longer excited about the snow and the cold.  I find more excuses not to ride than i would have early in the winter, even though I know that now is the time to start ramping up my training.  Its just the cold…. I am so sick of it.  It has gone on long enough!  This year is particularly bad, because we had a brilliant warm snap in February, so going back to temps near -20C feel more like I am jumping into the arctic ocean than looking toward spring.

So what do I do instead? I make my plan for the year!  Its a great time to start because it will help me be accountable for the next few weeks while temps remain below 0, but it will also get me psyched up (or perhaps psyched out) because I get to see that the ride season is really not that far out and I have a clear path to get there.  Yay!

Unless you are a spreadsheet whiz/junkie like myself, you may feel a little overwhelmed, so today I will share with you what I use to plan my rides.

1. I start with my main goal and a ride calendar

Ashley and I have set our sights (or main goal in this case) on Shore to Shore in August.  I stick that baby into my spreadsheet and start working backward, using the OCTRA ride calendar.  If you aren’t from Ontario, use your local ride organization calendar.

My goal is to do more multi-day riding in preparation for Shore to Shore, as well as longer rides at a slower pace so we lose that “racey” pace we had last year.  So I go through the calendar and pick rides where I can ride 2+ days and try to maximize my distance.  Of course, I know this is a perfect world plan so I won’t be devastated if I have to drop distances or a ride altogether, but this is what I want to do.  More more more, slow slow slow.

What I will add here too, is your main goal may not be what mine is.  Maybe you want to do your first 50 or 100.  Start with the goal, the date you want to achieve it, and work back using logical stepping stones.

Here, you will also see that I have a calculated rest period.  A general rule I have derived from mentors, presentations and reading that I will use for myself is 1 day of rest for every 10 miles in competition.  I have added in 2 extra days to account for the stresses of travel and bing bang boom, I am able to calculate what day I will next be able to sit on the back of my dearest Bentley.  Double check… yup, its not after the next ride.  Whoopie!  Alternately, you could use the FEI rest guidelines.

2.  Work up to your first ride of the season

I have found once I get Bentley fit enough for the first ride, that I don’t have to do too much to keep him fit throughout the season.  In fact, rest becomes more important than work.  So I focus my training plan on what to do until that first ride so that we are ready to go.

Another rule of thumb I learned early on and tend to go by is that my total weekly miles should be approximately what I would like to do in one ride (so if my first ride will total 25 miles, I should be riding 25 miles a week on average – higher distance rides I tend to go a little lower and allow more wiggle room in the program to ensure adequate rest).  So again, I work back from the ride date and distance and try to make it work.  I try to build 5-10% each week in distance.

This is also where I can take a look to see if where I am now = where I should be based on my rate of building.  Looking at my plan here, I can go out this weekend and try to do 25 miles and say “ok yes, the plan should work” or “nope, hes too fat, maybe I should pick a shorter distance for my first ride”.  Then I adjust my plan forward and back until I come to a happy medium.  There is no late scrambling to catch up when it comes to fitness, I need to do this now!

You will also see I have colour coded everything.  I try to mix up long rides, interval training and ring work/lesson so I get our cross training in.

3. Budget

Ok, now here is something I wish I hadn’t done because nobody ever really wants to know the final number when you ask “how much is this going to cost me?”

I am not actually going to share my budget, because I know my significant other will read this and tell me “hell  no!” before I even dip the toe in, but to be fair, I like to pad my budget so I always have extra and can say “look how good I was!”.

The basics of your budget should include fixed and variable costs.  In fact, I would even say we have 2 different types of variable costs to consider when looking at our competition.  So here are some of the numbers to jot down.

Fixed Costs – these are things you have to pay whether you ride once, or go to every ride.  These would include your insurance, memberships, annual shots/teeth (though you could argue this is not so much a competition expense… like I said, I pad my budget).  This may also include things like hoof protection if you plan on using something like boots through the entire season or longer.

Variable costs (per ride/day) – These would be the things that the more rides you go to, the more you have to pay, but not necessarily dependent on how many miles you do during the ride.  In here, I would include total entry fee, people food, travel costs to and from the ride, chiropractic or massage work that you will have done before and/or after the ride (include for you and/or your horse depending on who needs it), hoof protection (if you use shoes and need to put on a new set before each ride) and probably extra food for your horse.

Some of these would be a cost per day like people food, I gave myself a budget of $30/day for my food, so if its a 3 day ride (+2 days travel), I will ensure to budget for each day. Others, like travel, will only happen once per ride no matter how many days you camp out.

Variable costs (per mile) – these are things that you will need more of the longer/more miles you ride, I might also call these consumables.  In here, I include electrolytes and other supplements (such as pro-bi and BCAA) and miscellaneous veterinary supplies that I would likely need on longer rides.

I would quantify them as a dollar per mile value based on dosing instructions (ie for electrolytes, I have previously used an estimate of $1 per mile).

This is also where I will consider wear and tear on my equipment.  I realize that I am going to ride holes through my pants, and probably break some straps here and there, so I add some padding in again with a dollar per mile value that I can set aside (if I am being good of course) and save for that rainy day that I need to replace a piece of equipment. If my equipment doesn’t break?  Oh well then… I see there are some awesome new products at the ESRR web store.. maybe I treat myself to something fun?

Lastly, I add everything up and get a total for the ride.  My fixed costs will be divided through the total amount of rides I do and the variable costs will be added.  Assuming I have done an individual line item for each ride, I can also go a step further and calculate either a dollar per day amount, or dollar per mile ridden amount.  That way, if I am running short on cash (highly likely after seeing he final number), I have a better idea which rides I should cut based on my goals – its all about value for me!


I know this may not have been the most exciting read… it takes a certain type of crazy to enjoy this dry, mathematical work, but well, I am that certain type of crazy!  The bottom line is that making the plan will help you visualize the path to your goal and determine if it is achievable with the time and resources you have at your disposal.  Then down the line, if things go awry, you can adjust and move forward rather than starting from scratch.

And hey, after looking at my budget… if you want to just give up on the math and have me to make a training plan and budget for you… well I think we could negotiate something in exchange for a donation to our Shore to Shore campaign! Lol!

Happy calculating, and happy riding all!

OCTRA AGM AND AWARDS BANQUET

This past weekend, OCTRA held their annual AGM and awards banquet in Coburg, Ontario since this is pretty central to most OCTRA members.

The vendor area was full of fantastic tables with many items available and people to talk to. We had the Eat Sleep Ride Repeat table all set up with our merchandise, copies of On The Horse Magazine with Sarah gracing the cover as feature rider and Ashley’s article on ride n tie (which were all snapped up quickly!) and Sarah’s computer running helmet cam footage from her Race the Wild Coast experience.  It was great to catch up with many members and see some new faces.

The AGM part of the day was well attended, most likely due to some hot issues on the agenda. Personally, I find it great that this club is made up of members who are passionate about this sport and are looking for ways to change and improve it.

The banquet was delicious, as always with enough food to feed a small army.  No one ever goes hungry. A big shout out to the awards committee for organizing the awards part of the evening. The ribbons, plaques, trophies, etc. are always gorgeous and make for great ways to remember the achievements of the year. A very big thank you to Wendy Webb of Wendy Webb Photography for the stunning photographs of all the award winners!

The Eat Sleep Ride Repeat team took home a number of recognitions.  Ashley and her brother Alex were recognized for their provincial championship ride n tie win. The team also took home second place for overall senior ride n tie team.

Sarah and Bentley received new badges recognizing their 1000 miles in competition.

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Both Bentley and Splash received an award for top ten overall high point horse (10th and 6th respectively). In order to qualify for this award, horses must compete in three out of the four distance disciplines: set speed, ride n tie, competitive trail riding (CTR) and endurance).

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Even though proxy voting is now allowed, you’d really be missing out if you don’t attend next year! Even if you are not up for any awards, it’s still a great opportunity to catch up and reminisce about the past season, plan for the upcoming season, and just have a good time!

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Be Careful what You Wish For

The winter time is a bit slow for us as the weather sometimes prohibits us from riding as much as we would like to and there just aren’t as many events going on.  This lack of excitement makes for some pretty boring blog posts (or quite interesting ones, as we desperately try to create content that you guys want to read). Well, knowing I had an upcoming post today, I told Sarah that something epic had to happen on our ride this weekend so that I’d have something good to write about.  We decided to ride up to the Mansfield ski hill to watch the skiers thinking if nothing out of the ordinary happened, it would at least make for something different. Little did we know….

It started off innocently enough. After not being able to ride Splash for about a week and half due to weather and my schedule not cooperating, I figured she’d be a little hot to trot (which she was), which lead to a bit of handwalking and ground work until she regained her brain back.  Dealing with anxious horses on footing which was slippery in spots was not something I wanted to be on her back for.

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The cute colourful herd we passed

Luckily up ahead was the massive uphill climb we’d have to do to get to the top of the ski hill. If you have never walked up this hill, you’d still appreciate its steepness if you drove up it.  Both Splash and Bentley were quite eager to get to the top, trotting away furiously.  Splash currently looks like she’s pregnant with twins and this caught up to her about halfway up the hill, where she slowed to a walk and calmly strolled up the rest of the way. When we reached the top, Sarah was chatting away with a driver who had pulled over to the side. As that driver pulled away, another was coming up the hill.

We waited for her to turn the corner into the cute little subdivision before we continued on our adventure.  As Sarah and I are chatting about the conversation between Sarah and the driver, we hear a loud CRASH! We look over and the car that had just turned the corner had rammed her little hatchback into the snow bank. Sarah and I looked at each other trying to figure out what we could do to help. As the driver got out of the car, we rode over and asked if we could call anyone for her.  She said not to worry. This was the second time she had done this today. (Who does that!?)  She had been distracted looking at our horses and just kept turning the wheel.  The nose of the little car was jammed in the snow bank really well and there was no way we were going to be able to push her out.  Once we established everyone was ok and that there wasn’t anything we could do, we continued on our ride.

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My stealthy attempt at getting a picture of the car in the snow

We reached a spot on the hill where we could see the skiers and at first the horses were quite content and interested to watch these human-like things glide by. Eventually Bentley had had enough and we continued on our trek. As we passed by the scene of the earlier accident, there were a number of people with shovels and trucks attempting to help get the car unstuck.  After some groundwork and leaving the excitement behind, Bentley came back to earth and the rest of our ride was pretty uneventful.

Some lovely views and a little boogie around the fields made for a great way to end the ride.  Sarah and I were both excited to see the current baseline of fitness that our horses have despite not really being able to work much this winter.  Long walks in the deep snow have really helped that. The horses are shedding so here’s hoping spring is on the way shortly!

mansfield ski hill

Pickup “On The Horse” Today!

Are you from Ontario and totally into this horsey thing?

Check out the latest issue of On The Horse, where I had the honour of being their featured rider (and even graced the cover!).

Need more?  Ashley tells you all you need to know about Ride N Tie!

We love partnering and writing for other publications, pick up your copy this week and get the good word about Distance Riding out there!
Greenhawk Equestrian Sport (Mississauga)
Greenhawk Cambridge
Greenhawk Gormley
Greenhawk Burlington
Bahr Saddlery
Wellingtons Tack & Riding Apparel
Bakers Saddlery
Willow Equestrian
System Fencing
Brubacher’s Harness Supplies Inc.
Sprucewood Tack Shop
Greenhawk Equestrian London
Greenhawk Ottawa
The Tack Shoppe of Collingwood
Picov’s Tack Shop
Equestrian Factory Outlet York Region

 

Read the article digitally

Shore to Shore Pioneer Ride

With February fast approaching, many riders (including the Eat Sleep Ride Repeat team) is busy planning the upcoming 2017 competition season.

We are proud to announce that the Eat Sleep Ride Repeat team will be participating in the Shore to Shore endurance race in Michigan this summer.

The Shore to Shore ride takes place on the Michigan Shore to Shore Trail. This trail is 350 km long and rungs between Empire on Lake Michigan to Oscoda and Lake Huron.  This trail is only open to hikers and horseback riders and there are a number of equine campgrounds along the trail.

shore to shore trail

The Shore to Shore race does not take place in an exotic location but is exciting in its own way. Due to costs and other factors with transporting horses overseas, many of the ultra endurance races like the Mongol Derby or Race the Wild Coast provide horses for you (note horses). This time we will be using only one horse, our own, to complete the course.

Our crew will be essential to our success. Camp will move daily as this is a point to point race so we will need someone to drive the trucks and trailers to the new locations and set up camp. The vet checks are also at different points along the trail so our crew will have to meet us at each one to assist in cooling down the horses and preparing them for the veterinary checks. If anyone is interested in crewing for us, we aren’t going to say no! If you are looking at getting into the sport of endurance/distance riding, this will be a great hands on opportunity.

 

Here are a few videos showing what parts of the trail look like:

 

https://youtu.be/2dry_2nUiaE https://youtu.be/2dry_2nUiaE

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVfIiR8G7PM

 

This blog written by someone who has hiked the trail has absolutely gorgeous photos of the scenery along the trail. http://ericshikes.blogspot.ca/2016/11/michigan-shore-to-shore-trail-mckinley.html   We cannot wait to ride in this race!

 

Like anything of this nature, this will not be a cheap endeavour.  Please visit our online store to purchase Eat Sleep Ride Repeat gear to help us fund our team to get to this ride.  If you are interested in sponsoring the team, please contact Sarah or Ashley at cuthbertson.sarah@gmail.com or ashley.tomaszewski@live.com for more details.

It’s about Passion-by Jean Abernethy

“If you let yourself be drawn into your life by the strange pull of that which you are passionate about, you will not be led astray”. —Jean Abernethy creator of Fergus the Horse

 

In my experience, staying true to one’s passion has been the thread that keeps life meaningful, and fun. No doubt, in writing this philosophy to equestrian readers, I’m preaching to the choir.  After all, we are equestrians, first and foremost because of a major passion….horses.

 

In forging a career which combined horses and art, I can now recount with delight the number places I’ve been, because of my passion for horses. I never considered travel to be one of my passions, but here I am, many years, and thousands of miles later.

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Learning to drive as well as ride horses, opened doors for me. As an artist, drawing various harnesses, from draft harness to race harness, made my knowledge valuable to the standardbred industry. I also got a job in Georgia driving carriage horses in some beautiful historic places.  Because of my studies as an artist, I already knew the harness, what the parts were called, how it all worked.  My boss just needed to show me the tricks of putting it on. I’ll never forget driving in Barnsley Gardens in North Georgia.  It was the site of an old pre-Civil War cotton plantation-turned-resort.  Some of the trees, rosebushes and shrubs in the gardens around the mansion are well over 150 years old.  The mansion itself lost its roof to a tornado in the 1950s. Driving for Yellow Rose Carriages, is an experience I’ll always treasure.

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Near my home in Marrietta GA, Kennesaw National Battlefield Park was a place of solace for many miles and years in the saddle. Civil war tranches are carefully preserved there.

 

Visiting Monty & Pat Roberts’ Flag Is Up Farms in the San Yanez valley of California, to take a seminar with then, stable manager Crawford Hall changed my horsemanship for the better, and opened innumerable doors for me as an illustrator. Fergus himself, was born shortly thereafter.

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Driving to a Friesian breeding farm near Raleigh, North Carolina, for a client who wanted Friesian horse cartoons, led to the creation of my character “Kase” now a member of Fergus’s herd of friends. To my delight, my passion for horses, and my artistic career, had taken me coast to coast in the USA.

 

Just a few years later, I flew to England to visit an equestrian friend I met in California. Our combined passion for horses had us gazing into the church-like rafters of the last pre-1900 riding arena (school) left in England that was still in equestrian use…the racing stable of the legendary Eclipse…and Epsom Downs. (where I later took Fergus for a gallop on this photo I took during my visit. (I rarely put Fergus into a photo that I have not taken myself.)

fergus-on-epsom

Membership with American Horse Publications has taken me to several US cities, too, and I’ve been treated to, not just tourism, but tourism that interests equestrians: Saratoga, Keenland, Williamsburg…and in SanAntonio Texas I made this sketch inside the Alamo. Cameras were not permitted inside the building.

alamo

 

My passion for horses has drawn me to visit, repeatedly, a saddle manufacturing shop and a saddle tree manufacturing shop, tucked away in the Tennessee hills. Each is as colourful in character and culture as its proprietor. These special places have now also become part of my story. Here are four saddles that I have built and ridden.

four-saddles

The experience of riding 25 miles a day for two weeks, gives one a new perspective on travel, and history. With friends and family members, my little mare Willow and I accompanied this special group of horses and people from Lindsay to Cornwall, ON. How I treasure my journal kept daily along that adventure! Here we are in the middle of the pack, on the road near Douro, ON.

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After the publication of my first book, Fergus has taken me to New York City where I had a ride in Central Park and toured the stables where the carriage horses live.

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Since moving back home to Canada from the US, I’ve been privileged to work for South Algonquin Trails, a trail guiding company near Harcourt, ON. There I learned more of the history of Ontario’s legacy of logging and forestry.

sat-crew-2013

A side note, my grandfather, I was told, drove a “Snatch Team” while working in the bush in winter. This required exceptional horsemanship. On iced logging roads the sleighs, heavily laden, would slide along nicely, pulled by one pair of horses. Two teams, however, were often needed to get the sleigh started. Imagine the caution and expertise needed to hook a team of 4 onto a sleigh, enormously laden with logs. Two drivers would send all 4 horses into their collars at once to start the sleigh (hob-nailed boots on ice, and sharp-shod horses!) Once the sleigh was moving, the driver of the front pair, or “Snatch Team” would unhook on the move, and get out of the way, leaving the remaining team to take the load out. One misstep could be tragic.

willow-algonquin-pine

Being a part of the crew at South Algonquin Trails has brought me closer to my own history, and has also connected me with whole new rounds of friends; friends who have introduced me to playing Mounted Games, and my very first Competitive Trail Tide. The friendships, lessons and experiences working for and with my SAT friends, are too numerous to account for in a single blog…and 2017 is already filling up with scheduled travel and adventure…

saddle-up-keep-going

 

A passion is a pathway to an enriching life. Never brush it aside. Dive in heart first. When life gets tough, your passion, your deepest love, will be the thing that holds it all together for you.  Saddle up and keep going…

 

Jean Abernethy creator of Fergus the Horse

 

Horse Day at Grey Bruce Farmers’ Week

Thanks to a recommendation from her sponsor, Mad Barn, Sarah was invited to speak at Horse Day  during the 51st Grey Bruce Farmers’ Week on the topic of travel and horses.

horse day

Our drive up was not at all  bad, despite what the radio station was telling everyone.  The event suffered unusually low turnout for the event but those who attended were very engaged.

Sarah shared stories and her experiences from travelling to Mongolia for the Mongol Derby, herding horses in Iceland and recently competing in South Africa for Race the Wild Coast. Attendees were treated to some never before seen helmet cam footage which we will be sharing here and on our Facebook page in the coming weeks.

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Sarah’s talk received many compliments and there was never a quiet moment at the Eat Sleep Ride Repeat booth as people were excited to hear more about her adventures in Mongolia, Iceland and South Africa and what the next plans were.

The only suggestion we have to improve the event is that we would have loved to have more time to talk with visitors to our booth. The trade show and speaker area were in the same room so while it was great to be able to man the booth and listen to the presentations, many great conversations were cut short because the next speaker was about to begin.

It was great to see familiar faces and make new friends and especially nice to see so many people not only interested in the travel stories but wanting to know more about how to get into endurance and distance riding.

horse day

We would like to thank the organizers, staff, volunteers, and anyone else who made this event possible. The Eat Sleep Ride Repeat team would love to be back next year, hopefully with some more fantastic stories, this time from our adventure from Shore to Shore!

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The Summer Of A Lifetime

During the summer I traveled across the pond for what was one of the most amazing summers a mounted games rider could have ever asked for. Mounted games is a branch of equestrian sport in which very fast relay races are played by people of all ages on ponies up to a height of 15 hands (60 inches, 152 cm).They require a high degree of athletic ability, good riding skills, hand-to-eye coordination, determination, perseverance, and a competitive spirit, which nevertheless requires an ability to work together with other riders and a willingness to help one another.

I left July 10th from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on route to Dublin, Ireland. My family and I took the 8 hour flight which seemed more like 20 hours to Dublin, where we then traveled 3 hours by car (on the wrong side of the road) to the small town of Killarney.  For the first 2 days we had some down time to recover from jet-lag, and do some touring around the area including castle touring. After our down time the fun began at Mounted Games World Team Championships (WTC)  in Millstreet, Ireland about 30 minutes from where we were staying. Our week at WTC began with the drawing of ponies. We could not ship our ponies over we had to use borrowed ones. Our Canadian team learned really fast the large ponies we ride in Canada are the complete opposite from Irelands small ponies.  The pony I rode was named Uno who was about 13’1hh. It was a weird feeling riding a pony that I could wrap my legs around but it made things much easier when it came to playing the games.

Practice sessions took place on Monday and Tuesday as we had to get used to a ponies we had never ridden before. The qualifying sessions began on Wednesday and ran through until Friday where we rode 2 sessions a day against teams including Ireland, England, France, Wales, Australia, South Africa and more. The qualifying session placed our team in the C Final with Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. We played as hard as we could but ended up falling just short of 2nd in our final.

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After the fun and games at the Gala dinner it was off to live with the family I would stay with for the next three weeks. I lived with a amazing family from Ireland that worked a cattle farm but also played mounted games. The first week with the family was just a relaxing week to have some down time and ride some more Irish ponies. I got to experience some of the Irish culture and “live like an Irishman” as they said.

The end of the first week we packed all of our things and started our 2 day journey to Germany stopping in Dover, England for half a day so the drivers of the lorries could rest. We Arrived in Luhmühlen, Germany for the European championships. During the week I got to watch some of the best riders from all over Europe compete from the ages of under-12 to open where there is riders that are 30+ years old. I got to meet and make friends with so many riders in Germany and experience the German culture at the same time.

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When the competition was over we packed up yet again for my final journey by car to the World Pairs Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark. At world pairs I got the chance to ride with the middle daughter of the family I was living with, Laoise.  We compete in the Under-17 world pairs. The week began with finding my pony that I would be borrowing for the week, her name war Bertha. We had our practice Sessions on Monday And Tuesday then luckily got the whole day Wednesday off before the competition. Wednesday we walked to the train station where we took the train to the city and spent the day at an amusement park. The competition started early Thursday when we rode our first session at 7:30 A.M we had an amazing first session and were sitting tied for 3rd overall after the first day. Friday morning we had a rough heat riding with the 3 past Under-17 pairs champions which dropped us in points but we managed to have a good second session to make up for it. Saturday morning was the finals. Although again our final was the C final, at 7:30 A.M my mom still got out of bed at 1:30 here in Canada to watch the live stream and cheer me on. Laoise and I ended up 2nd in the C final Only 1 point behind 1st.

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Sunday morning brought an end to all the fun and GAMES when we travelled to the airport for my long flight home to see my family.

Equestrian Appare | Adventure Blog