Green Bean Webinar Series
Succeeding in Endurance with a Non-Arabian
Notes from Keith Kibler’s Jan. 7, 2019 presentation (taken by Mary Howell)
Keith noted that the Arabian breed has undeniable abilities in the sport of endurance and a typically high completion rate at any distance. His experience training gaited horses, including his Tennessee Walking horse mare Kate, has demonstrated that with proper preparation, non-Arabians can both complete and place well in competition, if that is one’s goal.
He explained that the concept of systematic training to prepare a horse in all aspects for competition, noting that training in groups helps expose a horse to being in a group and learning to lead and follow.
For all horses he trains, he tracks the miles each is ridden on a calendar, aiming for one longer ride of 15-22 miles and two shorter rides of 4-8 miles, at least one day apart, each week for a total of about 75 miles a month. He completed 350 miles over the 5 months before entering Kate in her first 50-mile AERC ride. He cautioned not to add both speed and distance in the same workout, and that he added more longer rides of about 20 miles each when preparing Kate for her first 100.
He explained the importance of monitoring a horse’s heartrate as well as miles covered so that you know what is their normal reading at a given pace, noting that this provides vital information just like a vehicle’s odometer or speedometer. He recommended ordering a new garmin xt 310 from ebay, that way you get a warranty, making sure it includes a transponder, and said the Distance Depot can provide the equine heart rate kit for a total cost of about $160 that way.
The Garmin data can be uploaded to a spreadsheet and that the rider should note any soundness and training issues as well as progress.
Keith’s Do’s and Don’ts include:
- Carry toilet paper and a rope halter to make an emergency halter or stirrup attachment.
- Be careful what you eat the day before a ride and avoid any unfamiliar foods.
- Don’t feed alfalfa hay until just before a competition to help ensure that the horse will have optimal absorption of the calcium it contains.
- Add calcium gluconate and BCAA’s (branched chain amino acids) to your electrolyte mix (He uses Perform n’ Win) and make sure it is palatable to your horse.
During the Q&As that followed, Keith noted that one of the main differences of non-Arabs is that they tend not to cool down as quickly as Arabians. To address this, sponge more often and more thoroughly, focusing on belly and between hind legs as well as neck and chest. You can add isopropyl alcohol to sponging water, being careful not to get it on any sensitive areas. You may also want to clip certain areas of your horse’s coat. In hot, humid weather, having a pop-up tent or other source of shade and using an electric or hand-held fan can aid in the cooling process.