Bruce Weary’s Wisdom: Our endurance 101 series

Bruce continues today talking about his horse FLASH

“Flash News Flash: Just a couple of things to report–Though we’ve had some bad weather recently, I was able to take Flash out for a nice 9 mile workout on the flat ranch land near our home. It is excellent footing, and I knew I needed to work on his diagonals and getting his head down and his back rounded, this is a good place to do it. I am still getting to know Flash, and as he has been sitting around sucking up food in the cold weather, he was like a kid with ADD throughout the saddling process. Chew on this, gnaw on that, paw at that, rub on that, knock that over–you know the drill. He is hard to get mad at, so I chastised him, but I’m sure I didn’t sound very tough. He listened pretty well today, though I had difficulty teasing his head down when he got up a head of steam. I emphasized the left diagonal, and we did some cantering, and the whole process just seemed to loosen him up and even him out quite a bit. He was happy to be out, and was always looking for a chance to move out, but slowed down and even walked when I asked. He has a very good mind, tries hard, has no mean bones, and man, does he have a motor. Having ridden mostly gaited horses for the last 10 years or so, I had almost forgotten how a powerful Arab with stamina feels. I didn’t light him up, but if you’ve ever driven a powerful car that can go 60 mph and you still have 2/3rds of the gas pedal left, that’s how he feels. He is a joy to ride, and I feel like my Dad just handed me the keys to the family Corvette.
So, the plan is to continue to work on balancing his diagonals, as well as getting him to lower his head and relax his rib cage, so he can work more efficiently. We are always at the whim of the ride schedule, and though it’s not perfect timing, I am sticking with the plan of taking Major to the Fire Mtn ride next weekend in Ridgecrest, Ca., (about an 8 hour drive one way), and riding Flash the next week a the Lead Follow ride, which is about an hour away. I think he will be ready for that. This schedule allows me a few more conditioning rides on him to sort things out, as well as minimizes the effects of prolonged travel stress, which I think many riders underestimate. Take a ride inside a trailer while a friend drives you around for a few minutes, and you will be amazed at how much leg work and balancing horses have to do, especially on a long trip. He gets new shoes and pads this coming Tuesday, so his shoes will be about 10 days old prior to the ride. Also, I spoke with my coach, Robin, and she is going to teach me skills to help my horses relax well before the start of a ride so they can enter the ride and go down the trail without a fight, saving energy for both horse and rider. She has shown me some of these methods at previous rides, and they work very well, though I need a brush up. Oh, to not fight with my horse for 5, 10, 15 miles.

Side note, Major is getting some roaning on his back from my poor choice in saddle pads. I used it at Descanso in October, and Lead Follow in November, and the roaning started showing up about 2 weeks ago. It takes 4-6 weeks for the white hairs to show up to tell us to start looking at possible saddle fit or saddle pad issues. In my experience, this roaning will go away when he sheds out in the spring, as it has happened to him before. All for now.”  ~Bruce Weary

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