Friday, December 16, 2011

Death Valley Warm Up - Karen Chaton - Full Story

Death Valley Warmup, December 10 & 11, 2011

We had a pretty good time last weekend. I rode Chief on Friday to mark trail along with Sue Wilkie and her horse Rocky. Then, I rode Bo on the first day of the ride in the 50, and Chief in the 50 on the 2nd day. The weather turned out great, and all things considered the turnout was decent – though still down over the previous year. I think that may just be the trend with the economy the way it is – ride participation is going to be down.

On day 1 there were around 21 in the LD and 31 in the 50. Winning time on the 50 was 5:52. On day two there were 8 in the LD and 24 in the 50 with the winning time on the 50 being 5:25. Rouven Krauer got BC on day 1, and on day 2 Mae Chase-Dunn got BC. Four people rode 2 horses both days, and 12 people rode the same horse both days.

My horses had just had a nice break in between ride seasons. Chief had nearly three months off, and Bo had six weeks off. They both had pretty incredible seasons in 2011. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that horses need breaks, even if they are performing extremely well. I’ve seen too many people not follow that protocol and have seen their horses fall apart prematurely (versus if they had been more generous when it came to giving their horse a vacation after a busy year). I’m still never quite sure where that imaginary line is. You know the one in the sand, the one that should you cross it means that something is going to go wrong with your horse. And, they aren’t like our vehicles that we can simply go out and buy a new part for. When a horse breaks it usually means time off, or worse case scenario an end of their career. So I’m kind of cautious there, always trying to figure out how much is too much, not enough, or just right. Always watching for signs of wear and tear.

You can imagine how happy I was that both of my horses finished their ride day at this ride in great shape. I took it pretty easy on both of them, using this more as a pre-check ride for the upcoming Death Valley Encounter where they will hopefully each do two days. Yet, still not easy so a good test to ensure that they are indeed ready to go. Besides always being concerned about how much time off is appropriate is the worry about giving too much time off. A super fit horse that is idle is not always a good thing...

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