So it’s been 7 months since I wrote “Getting Roxy Tired“. I wrote that post at the beginning of her transformation from wild bush beast into fine road horse.
As the summer went on I tried out new saddles and rode her lots, but, rather than fighting her urge to gallop on the way home, I walked her home all summer and managed to lose 12 lbs in the process. Otherwise I would get the mini buck, shoulder dip, head drop, in ultra rapid succession. Her way to get me to drop the reins by accident…you horse riders with that “crazy horse that just wants to GO” know what I’m talking about…
Occasionally, I would find the steepest hill and let her go as she wanted with 240 lbs on her back. Watching her give everything up the hill until she was cantering at like 4 miles an hour cracked me up. But what surprised me, but not really, was how quickly after an ultra hard exertion, she chose to go hard again.
Please remember, I never pushed her once in training, and not even until a long 28 mile day in West Virginia, 80 days into our ride. In training it was never about pushing Roxy, it was all about holding her back. As soon as you give permission, she GOES.
As the ride started in September I noticed some slight weakness in her rears on some downhills. This is when I started walking down and up all significant hills. Then later in September I noticed windpuffs on her rear ankles. This have been an ongoing thing since then. I manage that with supplements, sport wraps and lots of rest.
As we progressed, it was obvious Roxy was getting tired at times. But after the 55 day point I also saw her get stronger. She started trotting up every hill she could. Around the 75 day mark, she left cantering 3 mornings in a row.
At the 90 day mark we changed saddles and that took a readjustment period that lasted 3 weeks. Once I had it fully set up properly, she was back to trotting up hills- and the saddle was comfortable for me. I must mention that although we didn’t trot much in this period we did do our highest avg per day: 23 miles per day.
When we tried on new saddles at the 1000 mile mark, we rode 4 of our 5 days off, with no extra weight or backpack. She rode hard 2 of those days. My hosts can attest to that. So in other words, she wasn’t tired or fatigued. If I was to take all that extra gear off right now, she would canter and gallop down the road, no doubt.
So the question is, is she tired yet? I don’t think so, I think it’s just the 250-255 lbs on her 850 lbs frame that keeps her from going any harder. (The old saddle set up was 8-10lbs lighter).
To keep her from getting worn down, I apply all the things I learned from all my years racing bicycles, working as a bike messenger, and training and racing top level sled dogs.
KNOW YOURSELF, KNOW YOUR ANIMAL.
We are all different. We all respond to stress differently. Beware the trainer/guru who has a solution for all of us and all of our horses…I don’t believe in universal solutions, I believe in custom solutions. In other words, I know how to read MYself and MY horse to get the best out of BOTH of us while getting consistent forward progress down the road. I can’t profess to be able to give any advice for you or your animal. As we are different…
We ride 2 to 4 days then take a rest day. Every 2 weeks we take 2 days off. Every 500 miles we take 4-7 days off. I only push her if she is doing her stupid slow walk. I don’t push her into a trot tho, just her animated flat walk. I get off lots to walk, even on the flats now, where there is good grass on the side of the road.
Every day horse people who have been horse people their whole life tell me the following things:
She looks GOOD
She wants to GO!
Of course she does as I tell them my old nickname for her: Cocaine, (my other horse Jingles was Heroin he he). If she didn’t want to go then she wouldn’t be Roxy. Obviously I love this horse and I wouldn’t sell her for nothing.
Jingles – Morab mare, my other horse.
But I may breed her…
Be sure to check out our future post on our endgame, specifically what’s in store for Roxy once we get down to Maya Pedal in Guatemala.
Also for you readers out there, be sure to check out our post trip book. In this book, we will reveal the dramatic back story to our journey. Complete with all the crazy adventures and near death experiences I had while training Roxy and Jingles in the deep Northern Bush.