The plan for the first ride of the season was to do the 10km ride n tie on Saturday and 40km LD on Sunday. We would have liked to do the 80km endurance ride but boyfriend and I moving into new house and my truck and trailer were needed to move the larger furniture.
Saturday was chilly but fortunately no rain; perfect running weather! Clayton was determined to beat Splash as he did at the last ride n tie we did together at the Summer’s End ride last year in the Ganaraska Forest. It was going to be interesting because he’s been training on flat roads and the Dufferin Forest is sandy and full of hills.
I love a horse that knows its job. Splash knows the ride n tie course at the Dufferin and even when I’m not competing in ride n tie, any time I’m on the part of the trail that the ride n tie uses, she tries to GO! She was nice and quick to our trade off point and stood still while Clayton mounted up. She walked into the vet check calmly for him and was quiet while he dismounted and ran off. Pulsing down pretty quickly (and Splash knowing the course) allowed us to catch up to the team that had passed us during the vet check. I caught up to Clayton who was still trucking right along a great pace, although starting to feel those hills. I passed him but slowed down as we were coming out of the forest as I could see Wendy (the ride photographer) ahead and wanted a picture of the two of us.
Not far from the finish line, Clayton broke into a sprint to try and beat Splash so we cantered alongside him for a bit (just to get his hopes up) before we pulled away and crossed the finish line before him. Next time, Clay! I will update this once I unpack my truck and find my scorecard, but we finished in roughly 55 minutes, which is a personal record!
Sunday was a miserable day. Cold and wet weather is no fun for anything, especially riding. However, we are distance riders and unlike many other horse events, ours are not cancelled for rain. Days like these have their own sets of challenges. While the cooler weather helps with bringing the horse’s temperature down, you also have to be cautious of horses stiffening up, much like humans can when exercising in cold, wet weather. The ground is also slicker, especially with all the fallen leaves still in the forest.
The only goal we had for today was to finish (which is always a goal, but sometimes I will have others such as better heart rates, faster speeds, etc.) as I haven’t been able to ride as often as I wanted to and was just using this as a training ride. We ended up riding with Dominic and Liza the whole way as the two paints seemed to get along and match each other’s pace well. It was nice to have someone to talk to as it makes the ride go by a lot quicker and it keeps morale up, especially with the weather!
Although Splash drank well at every opportunity, she was still receiving B’s for her hydration levels at the vet checks. She didn’t pee all day until the end of the ride which means although she was drinking, her body was using everything she was taking in. Even though it was a cool day, I should have kept upped her electrolytes to encourage her to drink even more. Electrolytes are almost always a bit of experimenting and this is where knowing your horse and what is their “normal” comes into play. Lesson learned and we have something to work with for the next race to improve that hydration score!
The neat thing about this ride is that it is the first time an LD (limited distance) ride was offered in Ontario. Although I do find the set speed discipline great for teaching pacing, especially for those new to the sport, I really enjoyed the LD format for where I am now in my distance riding career. For the days I don’t quite feel like riding 80km, the LD provides a great alternative without having to really alter our 80km routine. We can go our pace without having to worry whether we are too fast or too slow for the set speed time (the 6 hours to complete the LD is more than enough time), plus we get the AERC miles in addition to the OCTRA ones.
Again, I’ll have to pull my scorecard to see what the actual final results were but we did finish somewhere in the top ten as we stood for BC (best condition) for the practice more than anything.
While everything is drying out, planning for the next event is taking place, the first of two Coates Creek rides. The plan is to do the 40km set speed ride on the Saturday and the 80km endurance ride on the Sunday, making this the most miles we’ve ever completed in one weekend. If we manage to complete both of these rides successfully, it will also put us over our lifetime distance mileage of 500 miles!
If you haven’t already, head over to our Facebook page for another great contest! All you have to do is like our page, and like and share the post. Easy at that! You have until the end of the week do enter.