Saturday, October 10, 2015

The OD 25 Pre-Ride Preparation

I like to keep track of what I do prior to an endurance ride, so I can figure out what works and what doesn't.  Also, for anyone who is new to endurance riding, seeing what someone else does may be helpful (if only to decide what NOT to do!).

Here's what I did as the days counted down to the OD 25-mile ride.

T-5 days
After what seemed like 40 days and 40 nights of rain, we finally got a break from the constant downpours that had been plaguing us for the last week, so I took advantage of the opportunity to head over to Phelps WMA for one last conditioning ride before the OD.  I hoped to put in 10-12 miles, but at a slower pace.  I didn't want to create any new soreness or test Nimo's fitness with only 5 days to go before the OD, so my plan was just to get time in the saddle.

Our slower speed gave me a chance to snap a few photos along the way.  The day was pretty dismal, so the lighting isn't that great, but hopefully you'll be able to see  that the park is actually a pretty nice place to ride.  It doesn't have what I would consider really challenging trails unless you ride the gas pipeline or the utility easement, where there are steep undulating hills, but the terrain is great for trotting or canter work over easy to moderate hills and the plethora of gravel roads is awesome when every other place is under water and muddy.

At the start of our ride
Scenic pond that people actually fish from
Nimo's favorite stream to drink from
Crazy farm equipment that makes Nimo extremely suspicious!
Beautiful open fields!
One final shot near the end of our ride
We managed to get in about 11 miles, which were mostly walking with some trotting.  All in all, it was a nice relaxing ride and we pretty much had the park to ourselves because the weather was still pretty dreary.

T-4 days
I like to do a bodywork session with Nimo a few days before a ride, so I can identify and hopefully work out any kinks that might give him trouble out on the trail.  I use the Masterson Method because it isn't as intensive as some of the other massage techniques and it seems fairly easy to learn.  I generally focus on the bladder meridian, which seems to get to the majority of tense areas.  Then I'll finish by working on the hip joint, the stifle, and the chest and shoulder area.  I tend not to do the stretches that are associated with the Masterson Method and just do the light touches.  If you aren't familiar with the method or would like more information, here is a YouTube video showing the bladder meridian technique:

I had hoped to show you a before and after picture of Nimo, but all I got was the before picture due to Nimo's obsessive curiosity about my phone.

Before bodywork
You can see that in the above picture, Nimo is standing in a fairly balanced way, which means that he probably doesn't have a huge amount of serious tension anywhere.  I confirmed that when I did the bodywork.  He still carries some tension in his poll, but not as much as he used to.  I also identified some tension mid-neck on both sides, mid-cannon bone on his left front leg, and on his left stifle.  He released a lot of tension by licking and chewing, along with some snorting, but I didn't get the huge yawns that I will get sometimes if he's had a lot of tension building somewhere.  At the conclusion of my session, which probably took about an hour, he was standing with his hind legs more underneath himself, with his left hind cocked and his right front slightly stretched in front of him. 

T-3 days
I wanted to do a touch-up trim on all four feet, just to make sure his hoof boots would fit.  But I didn't want to trim too much and risk affecting the effectiveness of the fit.  So on his fronts, I just did a light rasping all around and on his hinds, I took a little off the quarters and the toe, but left the rest alone.  I plan to do a full trim after the ride and make sure the hooves are trimmed properly, but I expected the OD trail to be quite rocky and I decided boot fit was more important than a full trim.

The only tools I need to do a trim these days!
T-2 days
Clipping.  Ahhh, clipping.  I debated and debated about whether to clip.  I really didn't want to because I prefer Nimo to be blanketless for all but the most severe of winter weather.  He seems to be happier that way and it saves me worrying about whether the barn staff got the right blanket on or if the waterproofing worked or if he somehow managed to extract himself from the blanket and froze to death overnight.  However, as ride day approached, I could see that not only was the temperature expected to be in the mid-70s, but the humidity level was predicted to be about 80%.  So, I cringed and cried a little inside and then got out my body clippers and shaved my horse from neck to tail.  I left the hair on his head and his legs, but otherwise, I gave him a full body clip.  As it turned out, his hair wasn't as long as I thought it was, so the clipping didn't take much off in most areas.  That actually made me feel better because I'm hopeful he'll still grow some winter coat and be able to be unblanketed on milder days.

It doesn't look like he is clipped, but the evidence is on the floor!
And so, by 8:30 that night, Nimo was essentially ready for the ride.  I planned to leave the next day for the ride, and you can read about how our trip went in my next post:)

1 comment:

  1. Great post - knowing how someone prepares their horse before a ride is so helpful to those of us that don't have mentors. Question - how did you learn the Masterson Method - videos, clinic, book? I'm very curious.

    I hope you and Nimo had a great ride!