My butt hurts.
You know how it feels when you haven’t ridden a bike in years and then you decide to pedal 10 miles around the state park on Labor Day? Your legs may feel fine, but your tush gets bruised. It just ain’t used to that seat.
Well, that’s what the weekend’s rides did to me. I got so little saddle time over the summer that I lost my anti-butt-bruising “callous.” On the bright side, the bruising means I’m riding!
I took both Majesty and Jammazon out on Saturday, one after the other, for early conditioning rides along the irrigation canal. Garmin came along to help me start assimiling how each horse feels at certain speeds, what kind of pace each adopts most naturally, etc. These will be observations logged over time, of course, but you have to start somewhere.
I clocked 4.3 miles of the 6-mile total trek. The balance of the mileage, spent on warmup and cooldown, was along the paved road between In the Night Farm and the canal. I didn’t want to time that section because it’s harvest season and I knew we’d be interrupted. Sure enough, we were obliged to move well off the shoulder a few times while potato, onion, and sugarbeet trucks roared by.
Jammer had 90 days of training last spring, followed by a couple rides per week all summer, until about the last month when he didn’t get much attention because his trainer’s time was demanded elsewhere. So, his fitness isn’t at its peak. (Okay, okay. He’s fat.) We trotted about 50% of the level route and walked the other 50%. Total time was 37 minutes, so we averaged 6.9 mph.
Maji’s fitness level is similarly low. Over a year ago, she had 60 days of training and was going pretty strong in hilly terrain, but she hasn’t done much since. We took a 6-mile walk/trot along the canal bank last weekend, and have put in some arena time over the past few weeks to soften her up and re-charge her brain cells before heading out. On Saturday, we trotted about 75% of the route and walked 25%. Total time was 44 minutes, for an average of 5.9 mph.
Fascinating. Maji’s walk is perfectly acceptable, and she’s game and speedy at the trot as well. But Jammer brings a whole other level of power to the trail. At 15.1, he has the advantage of size to go with his “go.” He walks out at 5mph easy; according to his trainer, there’s a sustainable 7mph walk in him too, but I haven’t tried that yet. If you look at the walk/trot percentages and total times, you can see how that walk pays off!
Two good horses. Two good rides. One sore butt is a small price to pay.
Site Update: You may have noticed a new page on this site — the Conditioning Log. Way back in the beginning of The Barb Wire, I kept a log of my conditioning rides on the site in the hope that it would be helpful to others getting started in the sport. Indeed, it has proven to be a popular feature. To this day, I receive emails of thanks for it. (Emails like that always make my day.) Now that I’m starting a couple new endurance horses, I reckon it’s time to bring the conditioning log back — hopefully, it’ll be better than before because I’ve learned an awful lot since I started riding Aaruba.