Gaiting Speed Graphics

Friday March 27 & Sunday, March 29, 2015

This weekend brought particularly cold weather back, snow and wind. I had planned a big ride with Faygo on Friday where my friend Nancy would ride half the distance with me on her fiery little paso. The morning ended up in a very cold rain, so we decided to be flexible and met at the barn in the afternoon for a shorter ride and some fun in the obstacle course training. It was a good chance to spend a few minutes with Khaleesi, see how her shoulder did after light work, then with Faygo, a little easier riding with a friend for a change.

Nancy and Mireyah cross the tarp

Khaleesi is great with the tarps, platforms etc. in fact she is so laid back she is lazy about picking her feet up over the pipes on the ground. We opted for a slight challenge by moving the tarp- at first following behind it. It was windy, so that was a tricky, but everyone improved. Her shoulder seemed no worse for use.

Sunday I thought I would do a short(ish) fast moving ride and I let the dogs come along. I don’t have the mileage mapped over the mountain (this is the mountain East of the river) into Little Valley and back, I guessed it would be a good 7 or 8 miles. The ride is steep to the top ridge trail, then it’s down or somewhat flat to come back through the valley so it was a nice ride to open up and work on some gaiting.

When I got home and checked the GPS I was a little off. The ride was about 11 miles, very similar to the ride we took last weekend! I was especially surprised since we did the ride in about 2.5 hours. Sorry dogs- I didn’t realize I was going to drag you 11 miles at a good moving speed. But they hung in there like the fantastic trail dogs they are!

Tired dogs after running at least 11 miles with us!

Double Click to see enlarged view
Double Click to see enlarged view

I am happy to say the incline was even more than our last ridge ride (on the CCC road – the mountain West of the river), yet our speed was better. I started counting and tracking her breathing and recording the data with her heart rate at the time. I also am discovering that letting her haul up a ways then stop to breathe seems to work better for her than controlled walking the steep inclines. I realize people may say that the slow walking will build stamina, but I don’t know if I believe that for her case. And if so, then we’ll continue to train that way sometimes, but in trying to see what we can do, pushing through then resting in spurts seems to work better.

The ridge trail is so pretty- and this time of year you can see more through the trees than in summer. I love the rock formations up on top of the mountains, and the shapes of the trees are more interesting as well. I took a little video when we crested the top.

We dropped off the mountain through the backyard of good friends Lee & Linda. They were outside so we stopped to say hello and got a picture by their “little” house. It’s the original house from the property and now used as a guest house. Entire families lived in the tiny place! (pictured at top of post)

Rock Cairn marking the trail up the mountain that during summer can be tricky to find.
Rock Cairn marking the trail up the mountain that during summer can be tricky to find.

From this point we had some flat terrain on the road and we settled into a gait and finally I felt like we dialed it in. She didn’t try to go faster or slower, I found a great seat and balance, and we hit our stride – that sweet spot in gaiting – and really held it for over a mile… that’s the longest stretch like that for us ever. In looking over my graphics I saw a nice difference between the rides. Our last weekend 11 miles on the CCC road is very jagged, this ride to Little Valley is slightly less so. We have a couple miles of between 8 and 10mph which is when we had that nice gait experience. Unfortunately when we hit the trail again with it’s various inclines and footings she went back to pushing me to canter more and to see how things went I often let her (you want to go? ok… me too!) Only she would wear herself out and then have to slow way down to recover on great ground we should have been covering faster. Lesson learned from that: convince her to stay in a gait for more of the ride even if she promises she has the canter in her. I have to be the brains of the operations… Lend me your hooves… lets work together!

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Bolar Ridge Loop is most recent (shown as top graphic). CCC road loop (shown as bottom graphic) is from the previous ride.

So what I’d like to start seeing on my GPS graphics is a decrease in those peaks and to begin to have a more stable average speed in our training. That is the goal as much as it’s possible to do so (terrain dictates much of our options).

As for my “mother of dragons” (Khaleesi), she had to hang in the stall because in the evening we had a visitor. The man I bought her from and his wife came to see her and have dinner with us. I was excited to have him see how nicely she is growing up. He said she looked great and that I was doing a good job with her. We went in to the arena and when I began to walk her around the course she picked right up and trot-trot-trotted around like a little peacock. She hardly ever moves at more than a walk unless I force her, so I was a bit surprised. Who are you and what have you done to slightly lazy, mild mannered Khaleesi!? She did all I asked of her (though still a little rough around the edges), and then we turned the girls out in pasture. Instead of her usual stand around, hang her head over the gate “where ya goin’ mom?” she danced off across the field and then with her tail up pranced around, kicked up, bucked, ran around, trotted, cantered and all ducked her head and hauled ass at pretty good speed in little bursts. I was tickled to see it. As soon as she’d stop a moment she’d pick up and go again, at least for or 5 times. I believe she remembered her past family and was doing a little show off for them.


Thankfully the next day proved that all the crazy acrobatics had no effect on her past injury and she is sill looking sound. So, the girls is ready to get back to work! Will she gait? Can I make that happen alone? Or will I need help? Stay tuned as we figure it out together!

Published by JaimeHope

Violin teacher and endurance rider living in a rural mountain county - one of the least population dense and without a single stoplight.

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