Summer’s End Training Ride

On Friday, we loaded Dressy and Ares in the trailer. Then we drove to Tottenham to pick up his Royal Cuteness (Benson), and then down to Milton to get Java. That’s the first time I’ve had the trailer completely loaded up with four horses. I had to go right across Toronto on the 401. On Friday afternoon at rush hour. That was a miscalculation on my part. I had meant to hit the 401 earlier in the day.

Anyway, we finally made it to Bailieboro (south of Peterborough) at around supper time. Dressy and Ares spent over six hours in the trailer. But they both seemed just fine. Benson was as cute as ever. And Java, at 27 years old, looked bright-eyed and interested in this new adventure.

We set up electric paddocks with Benson on one end, Java on the other, and Dressy and Ares in the middle. Ares spent the first few hours in the very center of his pen, petrified of the electric fence ALL around him. It took him all weekend to get around to grazing the grass near the fence. Dressy began flirting madly with Benson. Hmm. In season. She eventually managed to whip her tail over the electric fence (which was turned off, thank goodness) and then wrap it around her legs. Quite tightly. She panicked for a moment, but as soon as I yelled at her to stand. She froze. And stood like a statue while we carefully untangled her legs. She’s certainly got a working brain in that beautiful head.

Saturday was the clinic. There were presenters on a number of topics. Ana seemed to enjoy it all. She particularly liked Michelle’s talk on training and calming horses. Saturday evening, Emily, who was parked next to us, discovered that Duke had sprung a shoe. She managed to get a farrier in to reset it before dark though.

Sunday was the big day. First was a four mile ride n tie. Ana and Emily teamed up on Duke. Jaclyn and Annie rode Java. They were up against Sarah and Linda, and Lesley and Hailey with Hailey’s adorable chestnut pinto pony, Chester.

I don’t know exactly how old Hailey is. Maybe five? But oh my goodness… talk about excited! That kid was scampering around, brushing her pony, organizing her stuff, changing the pony’s halter, and just generally getting ready for the event of her life. Her mom and dad both went out with her. But dad managed to twist an ankle on the first loop. So he retired for the day. Mom did both loops leading Chester and Hailey. I did see her mom actually get on the pony for two steps. “See? I am riding the pony” she said as she crossed the finish line.

Sarah and Linda came in first. Jaclyn and Annie were second. Ana got a bit lost trying to follow trail ribbons, so she lost quite a bit of time. Then Duke trotted out a bit lame. The sprung shoe apparently came back to haunt him. So no placing, but they did get a mileage completion. Hailey, her mom, and Chester finished third. Hailey was VERY proud of herself.

After the ride n tie was over, we went out for the 15 mile set speed. On the first loop, Jess and her thoroughbred Earl, and Sandy and Benson went out with us in a group. Ares made it very clear that he was to be out in front. So we followed obediently. He was pretty excited, and hasn’t yet learned to maintain a steady pace. But he was unceasingly bold and forward. His ears were up, he looked at everything with interest, and just kept traveling. After two miles, Ana asked me when the next competition was. I told her that she needed to finish THIS competition first before she started making grand plans. Ares was cycling through a whole variety of gaits, many of them quite unidentifiable. But they seemed comfortable enough for Ana. He didn’t pace more than a few steps though.

I have to admit to my own disorganization at this point. I forgot to bring Dressy’s Guinness. And her One-AC. Both supplements are for her anhidrosis (failure to sweat). So on the first loop, she was sweating, but not a lot. I used up my water bottles sponging her off through the loop. At the mid-check, Ares cooled down very quickly. Dressy was still pretty hot and needed a few minutes to come down. But both horses vetted through fine. Ares had a CRI of 13/13 (which translates to a heart rate of 52, so he was still rather excited)

For the second loop, I stuffed my pack with extra water bottles. Sponged Dressy off completely before we went out, and stopped at the water stop to do the same halfway through. So she did stay cool enough. But it was definitely artificial sweat all the way. I don’t think she sweated a drop on the second 7.5 mile loop. I just sponged her as soon as she started drying off.

It was just Ares and Dressy for that loop. We lost Jess and Sandy (they quite rightly preferred to travel at a bit steadier pace – green horse/rider in the lead makes for some surging in the pace). Ares did much more cantering on the second loop. I’ve never seen a Standardbred who canters as much as this guy. It’s not really fast, Dressy was still trotting to it. He just likes to canter. So does Ana as it turns out. She had a huge grin on her face by the end.

Ares came in at the finish with his ears up. Very perky and happy. He led for nearly the entire 15 miles. His final heart rate was 45. Dressy was also fine, and had a final heart rate of 37. She vetted through perfectly. But still no sweating.

Both horses ended up with an average speed of 5.1 mph and Grade 3 finishes (best is Grade 1, worst is Grade 5). So that was very respectable for Ares in his first set speed ride. Ana was bubbling with excitement. She’s normally very shy and quiet, so it was quite entertaining to see her so happy and talkative.

And she’s officially decided to lease Ares. So I’ve stopped looking for a home for him for the time being. They are a very good match. He quite obviously loves her and looks to her when he’s worried about anything. She’s planning to take him to Oktoberfest in a couple of months, and maybe do the 25 there.

2 Replies to “Summer’s End Training Ride”

  1. Well, I don’t know that I’m a great mentor necessarily. But I really like doing it. I remember how exciting it all was when I was a beginner, and I get to relive that a bit when I help novices get started. So it’s fun!

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