Sunday, June 30, 2013

Summer is here!

OK, so summer has officially arrived in Virginia.  For several weeks, temperatures have fluctuated between pleasant and almost unbearable, and they have now settled into the sauna range.  Based on the previous 12 years of living here, I think it's safe to assume that the upper 80 and 90 degree temperatures with humidity levels in the 75-100 percent range are here to stay until the beginning of September.

Riding is now more of a chore than fun, but I keep reminding myself that I have to keep conditioning or I'll never make it to my goal ride of 15 miles in October.  So, I've taken Nimo to Whitney State Forest a couple of times over the past week to get some good conditioning in.  It's not my favorite place to ride, but it's close and the terrain is varied.  Plus, I can do loops that take me past the trailer to get Nimo used to riding past it periodically.

The first ride I did at Whitney last Monday was one of the first really steamy days after a few nicer days, so it was rough.  We seriously only did 2.5 miles because by then Nimo was lathered up on his chest.  Oh, and my 70 year old father, who graciously agreed to accompany on my first "solo" ride by walking on foot, had had about enough of Virginia summer weather.  And for anyone who is sort of horrified that I dragged my aging father with me, I should note that he is very active for his age and was bragging about going on a six-hour hike in the Badlands the weekend before and being able to keep up with younger folks.  However, it turns out that six hours in more reasonable temperatures and humidity levels is much easier than an hour in in a steam bath.  Still, it was great to have the company, and Nimo did really well, so I think we're good to start riding on our own.

Then, on Saturday, I rode with several other ladies and we did about 4 miles in an hour and 20 minutes.  Still not making great time in terms of endurance riding, but I was pleased that Nimo did not get lathered at all and seemed to be handling the heat and humidity much better than on Monday's ride.  Also, I learned that I really do need to drink, even on shorter rides, because I don't handle the heat and humidity as well as my horse does.

So, I'm hoping to get back to Whitney sometime during the week to see if I can add a little more distance to our ride.  I'm supposed to be doing an 8-10 mile competitive trail ride in a couple of weeks and I probably should work up to that distance, rather than springing it on my poor horse the day of the competition.

And, I may begin reporting temperature and humidity numbers in a sort of obsessive/compulsive way.  After reading Mel's post on heat and conditioning, it has become clear to me that I really need to monitor temperature and humidity to see how they affect my horse's performance.  Mel has got some great ideas for conditioning for heat, but if you look at our comments back-and-forth, you'll see that she generally conditions in higher heat and lower humidity than I will be, so that may mean that I should make accommodations.

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