Saturday, December 3, 2016

Blandy Experimental Farm Bridle Trail

I first rode at Blandy Experimental Farm back in June of 2013.  I posted about the ride here.  It was basically a short trail ride that was organized as a practice session for an upcoming Judged Pleasure Ride, and the fee for the ride went to a therapeutic riding school.  Apparently, I had intended to come back to the park for some additional conditioning work, but I just have never gotten around to it...until today.

Blandy Experimental Farm is part of the University of Virginia, although it is located in an out of the way place just north of Sky Meadows State Park (northern VA for those who don't live here).  It is a 172 acre arboretum that also hosts workshops and other learning opportunities for both kids and adults and plant-related research is conducted there.  It has about 7.5 miles of bridle trails that are pretty quiet most days and the trails are well-maintained with mostly barefoot-friendly footing over gently rolling terrain.

A friend of mine had reminded me that the mowed paths on part of the bridle trail would be great for some trot sets.  The paths are set up in sort of a grid pattern in that section of the park, and are straight on gently rolling terrain.  I was all for some conditioning work, so we met there this afternoon.  I should mention that my friend is considering conditioning her horse for an endurance intro ride next spring, but much like me when I was just beginning, she isn't really ready for the more hardcore conditioning work, so I knew that Nimo would probably have a pretty easy time today.  However, I have been wanting to work on consistently slowing his trot speed, and my friend's gaited horse provides the perfect way for me to calibrate a slower trot because her horse gaits in the 6-7 mph range instead of the faster 10-12 mph range that Nimo often prefers.

So we headed out on our ride with one other lady who is also at the point of wanting to get her horse in better shape and the three of us spent about 2 hours roaming the park.  We ended up not doing the disciplined trot sets that I initially envisioned; instead opting for a more casual approach.  But we did get some trot work in and I could tell Nimo was still pretty fresh after our 7-mile ride.  Which was kind of nice to feel, because I've been kind of bummed about all the conditioning that he has lost due to my focus on  Science of Motion training.  I know it is for the greater good, but the thought of all those miles that we've done and the resulting fitness slipping away has been a bit painful for me to think about.  So, knowing that Nimo can still do 7 miles with some trotting and be ready for more was enough today to ease my mind about his loss of fitness.

Posing near the end of our ride.  The Blue Ridge Mountains are in the background.

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