I decided last night, we would work on the trot, not to try and canter and end up with crazy head. The plan would be to do 20 min trot sets (5 min walking in between) for as long as Lee could tolerate being at the barn. This is a delicate mathematical equation I have been working on for 2 years now, and while I may be closer to an answer, I still have not perfected it. Its something along the lines of this:
Time to ride (minutes) = ((Patience rating – work to do) / time of day)*excitement factor+comfort bonus
Patience rating would be on a scale of 1-100 based on the personality of your spouse. Lee is an easy 90, but he had 45 mins of work still to do that night.
Time of day is based on a 24 hour clock. The later the time, the more likely your spouse will be cranky and need to be put to bed. We started our ride at 20:00.
Excitement factor is once again a rating from 1-100. 100 would be something along the lines of going to Cavalia or watching the Spruce Meadows Masters or Rolex Combined Trials… something even a non-horsey person would say “wow that was pretty cool/intense/fascinating” Trot sets rank very very low here, but I was having him set trotting poles, so I will give it excitement rating of 25. A little better than I would score an endurance race (you all know I love these, but for a spouse its boring sitting around waiting for your honey to get back, only to be covered in sticky electrolytes and scratched up the side by Mr. Sweatsalot); at least he can have a conversation with me yelling across the ring.
So with all my numbers, I get a total ride time of 50 minutes. But lucky me! The comfort bonus comes into play here. Comfort bonus can include any of the following:
-Heated arena in winter+ 15 minutes
-Nap allowance +10 minutes
-Wine (or other choice of alcoholic beverage): 1 glass = +10, 2 glasses = +25, 3 glasses = +40 minutes, 4 or more and a shot of tequila = ride forever and pretend like you were only gone 20 minutes.
As our boarding barn is a family friendly environment, I no wine could be involved, but allowing Lee to nap on the heated spectator bench earned me a total of 75 minutes to ride. Not bad!
A few more tweaks to do, including testing on other scenarios and added comfort bonuses, but overall a pretty solid equation.
Good luck and have a good ride!