Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Conditioning with Saiph

I have really been struggling with our endurance conditioning work this summer.  We have had almost non-stop heat and humidity since early May and I haven't been able to acclimate to it.  I think I might be going through the stages of grief because our weather went from unusually cold winter to why-is-it-still-so-blasted-cold-and-wet spring to why-does-if-feel-like-July summer.  For awhile I was in denial and thought that the heat was an anomaly and it would go away, so I didn't ride much.  But then when I realized summer was here for good, I was really angry and upset and I didn't ride much.  Now I'm sort of moving toward acceptance, but this stage may take so long that fall will be here before it really sinks in.  So while I now understand that I'm just going to have to endure the heat and humidity for the next couple of months, I'm still having trouble getting motivated.

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you'll know that I occasionally get together with a fellow endurance blogger, Saiph, for conditioning rides.  We always have fun, so I was excited that after Saiph moved her horses to a new barn recently, she invited me to come up to ride with her because she has access to quite a few miles of trails from her barn.  Even though the drive is a bit farther than I like to go on a regular basis, I didn't want to pass up an opportunity to ride with a friend and to get some decent conditioning in.  I knew I could count on Saiph to help motivate me, and I knew Nimo would do better with a buddy too, so Saiph and I made plans to get together on July 12.  As you may know, her horse, Lily, had a terrible accident the week before that, so our plans were up in the air for a few days.  But it did work out that Lily was home by the day we planned to ride and Saiph could still ride her other horse, Gracie.

I got up bright and early that morning in hopes that we could finish our ride before the heat of the day.  I had the usual adventure of trying to find my way through the Maryland countryside with a truck and trailer.  For those of you who don't live in this area, let me explain that it is common for roads to randomly change names or even to come to an end and then start back up somewhere else.  Road signs are often not visible because they are hidden by trees, and sometimes they are twisted so that the signs show the wrong name.  Other times the signs are just missing.  Or, as happened on the day I went to Saiph's barn, my GPS just gave up near the end of the trip.  Luckily, I am used to these things by now, so with only one u-turn, I was able to arrive safely at Saiph's barn within about 5 minutes of my planned arrival time.

We got the horses ready, and we were out on the trail by around 10:20, I think.  And we spent the next 2 and a half hours roaming the fields and woods of the property where Saiph boards.  I think she said there were over 200 acres, and the whole property was accessible to us.  It was an interesting ride because of the variety of terrain and obstacles: some shorter, steep hills; railroad tracks to cross (our first!); gravel roads; a river; an airplane runway; a giant construction debris pile; cross-country jumps; and lots of fields.  At one point, we went down a road Saiph hadn't been on yet, and we discovered a way to cross the river.  Our first option ended up not working out so well.  Neither Gracie nor Nimo were too excited about the 3 foot drop off with rocks, but Saiph did some exploring and found a much nicer way to go.

Nimo and I waiting while Saiph explored the river bank (photo by Saiph)
Nimo checking out a cross-country jump (photo by Saiph)
It was still a hot ride toward the end, but we managed to eek out about 10 miles because we had such great company.  I'm so glad that we were able to make the ride work, and I'm actually going to make conditioning with Saiph a more regular occurrence.  She's learning the trails at a couple of parks in Maryland that I've always wanted to explore, and she does such a great job of keeping a good pace.

It's interesting because last year, I really did prefer to ride by myself.  I wanted the solitude and I also wanted to be able to set my own pace and distance.  But this year, I've noticed that riding by myself doesn't have the same appeal that it once did.  Now, I really do want the company, even if it isn't an endurance rider.  Just having someone to ride with seems to make the miles go by faster and the chance to talk to an adult is nice too!:)


  1. I read this, as always, the second it popped up in my blog feed and kept meaning to come back to comment! For starters, thank you for writing up our ride, since I have failed epically at writing about anything Gracie-related for several weeks now (poor girl...she is doing absolutely STELLAR...we cantered bareback today!) I was so proud of her on this ride, and it confirmed my previous suspicions: her and Nimo pace together very well!

    I had so much fun showing you around the farm, and I'm really looking forward to riding with you again!!

    1. I don't blame you one bit for not having time to comment - you've had a lot on your plate!:) And wow about cantering Gracie bareback! That is still on my to do list for Nimo - maybe when he's really old and I'm on some kind of medication:)

  2. I hope you two start riding together more regularly! That is such a nice luxury of living close and having trails to meet up at in the middle, too. I'm glad you could get out and ride despite the Lily debacle. =)