So, yesterday may have been a little bit of a late start for getting some sort of fitness/galloping baseline on Dino and I, but weather/moving/etc... At least that's my excuse for not doing any straight conditioning rides up until this point.
After two great dressage rides this week, I wanted to get a no-brains-needed conditioning ride on the books. Especially since I now have the absolute greatest place to do such things, I figured it was about time to really see where we stand with our cross country fitness. I know we're both getting much fitter than we were when we started riding again two months ago, but I hadn't really just gone out and done any long gallops yet.
I used 3-minute trot and canter sets with at least a minute walk break in between, and just paid attention to when we each started fatiguing. I tried to ride as much of it in two-point as possible.
The trot sets were easy easy easy for both of us. Once we got going, I felt like Dino could have just trotted all day. Uphill, downhill, sideways, whatever. We chased some geese that were chilling in the field. I worked on my two-point. It was entertaining.
Our first canter set, on his stronger right lead, was awesome. Dino POWERED up the hills and maintained an excellent pace and balance on the downhill sections. I was able to hold myself up in half seat the entire time, and even rode downhill staying out of the saddle! I really tried to just let Dino handle the terrain, and stay 'floating' up above him. Homeboy didn't let me down.
After that first 3-minute canter, however, I was pretty much dying and needed to take a several minute break to catch my breath! My legs and abs were really feeling it, though I didn't feel weak, just winded. Time for more cardio, ya think?
The left-lead canter set was where Dino started to fatigue. He was holding strong for the first minute and a half, but then after that he started breaking to the trot. I know part of that is caused by his weak right hind just not being able to keep up, and I think he was also just starting to get tired from all the hill work. I pushed for a little more canter, and my good pony gave it to me. After about another minute I let him be done and we took a nice long walk to cool out.
So now I have a good idea of where we stand with our galloping fitness, and the good part about having done this conditioning ride is that our Elementary level XC course is only about 3 minutes long, and in all likelihood won't involve half as many hills as what we rode yesterday, thank goodness!
Dino and I are in pretty good shape to run our first horse trial of the year very soon!