Bruce Weary Wisdom/ Endurance Primer 101

Bruce Weary 
AERC rider
Region: SW
Endurance miles: 11940   LD miles:  795  100 mile ride completions: 10
Personal niche: Gaited Endurance

Bruce regularly shares ride stories with our group on the sister facebook page North American Endurance Green Bean.   Since the base of Green Bean Endurance continues to expand as a group, it becomes more vital than ever to provide mentor-ship early on to the many new riders finding this sport.    Bruce’s sharing of information is educational, in that he illustrates there are no real short-cuts to longevity.  So in the spirit of  NO FAST & FURIOUS for the truly green bean endurance rider we will grab interesting snippets of his information to share here on the website, and try to find supportive links when possible for your reading pleasure.

Here Bruce talks a little about LSD (long, slow, distance):

“Many questions have come up about the nature of LSD, so I thought I would post these thoughts: LSD stands for “long, slow distance” which is a term borrowed from the running world to suggest putting in longer miles but at an easy to moderate pace so as to allow all tissues to adapt in a conditioning program. The real trap in endurance riding is that many horses are energetic and can display an urge to go fast when their heart, lungs and muscles are capable of it, but their legs and locomotor joints aren’t ready. It’s like coupling a small transmission with a very powerful engine. Pretty soon the engine can overpower it and parts start flying everywhere. Our history is full of examples of new and competitive riders who find out early on that they’ve got a fast horse with good recoveries, and in their first few rides they get a taste of placing high or winning. Human ego says, “I want more of that!” and so they keep running the horse at race pace until the mechanical parts, if not properly conditioned for long term durability, start breaking down. The rider is left scratching their head wondering how their champion horse could have gotten into such a mess, and they often get discouraged and leave the sport, or perhaps buy another horse and do it again. There are many suggested workout schedules out there for bringing a soft horse along through LSD and then up to higher levels of fitness. A good rule of thumb is what I call the “Three D’s.” They are “Duration, Distance, and Difficulty.” It’s a good idea not to increase more than one of them at a time, and even then by only 10% with each work out. For example, if you do a 5 mile flat workout at 5 mph, the next time you could go 5 1/2 miles at 5 mph on flat ground. If you try adding a hill, don’t add distance or speed. Slowly, over the time it takes for joints to adapt (two years or more) you can ratchet up the horse’s workouts so that he tolerates them all increasingly without injury, avoiding burnout, and building a desire to work, make sense?”

Let’s look at this from SERA 

Suppose you are starting your horse out this week, he’s a reasonably fit trail horse already used to going on 7-10 mile slow trail rides.   So there is already some base of fitness.   Looking at the guideline below what do you see?  What are the LSD days?  How fast is the average pace for LSD?

“Wednesday:jog 5 miles at 6 mph; 20 minutes of arena work

Thursday:trail ride 10 miles over hills to average 4-5 mph
Friday: jog 5 miles at 6 mph
Saturday:jog 4 miles at 8 mph; 20 minutes of arena work
Sunday:2-hour trail ride to average 4–5 mph”

Of course we are talking about the 2 hour trail ride and the 10 mile trail ride setting an average pace of 4-5 miles per hour.   So Thursday and Sunday map out the LSD for the week.   This is a good starting point that you will over many weeks stretch out in distance to 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20 miles at just that nice moving out, but not in a hurry either pace.  That is how you build your horse to longer distance.   Here the horse builds “endurance.” (the ability to hold a pace without fatigue over distance).

So what about the other three days?  On Wednesday you do some nice exercises in the arena (maybe you take a lesson on that day). Or you hit the trail for a shorter distance (5 miles) and move out a little snappier.  On Saturday you see a further increase in speed, but look at the mileage, because you picked up some head of steam, you are going to dial that mileage back considerably.  This type of conditioning begins to build “stamina” (cardio fitness).

3-short and snappy rides vs. 2 of LSD.  After a step up in pace or a step up in distance, a rest day for your horse to recover.

More from Bruce?   Visit  NAEGB and enter Bruce Weary into the search box.   Follow him on his adventures with his gaited endurance horse Major. 

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