Jumping into Endurance

If you guys follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed a pair of white ears popping up in my stories and posts every now and then. That's because I've picked up a new fun ride. Meet Dobare (Doe-Bar-A).
Love mornings in this back field!
Dobare's owner is rehabbing a knee injury, but wanted the gray arabian gelding to continue legging up for a full season of endurance racing. He has already done a few LD (limited distance = 22-30 miles) races on him this year, but asked if I would take over for him while he recuperates.

Uh! Yes!
Always happy to catch ride some endurance horses!!
Please don't burn your eyes on the combination of western/endurance tack, dressage breeches, polo boots, and camelbak.
Initially I was just working with Dobare in the ring, teaching him to yield laterally and build more topline strength. But as his owner needed more time to rehab, I ended up taking over longer training rides. Now we're planning to have me finish out the competition year on him, and I am so excited!
Even when we get caught in a torrential flooding downpour and almost get swept away by flash flooding...
I feel pretty luckily to be handed this chance. Dobare is turning out to be a pretty capable little endurance horse. We've been putting in a lot of time at local trails, alternating between training on tough terrain like this ...
Just a few rocks. Nbd.
And doing speed/distance pushes on the C&O canal...
16mph and no hands! Whee! 
Overall the training has been going super well. I'm finally to the point where I have a good feel for the horse, and can pick up on when he's feeling good, needs a break, or has more in the tank. I'm looking so forward to riding him on race day (at the end of this month!) to see how he handles himself at the races. Based on how he hunts down bikers on the canal, he seems to know and enjoy his racing job a lot!
He loves motoring down that trail!
My main concerns are conditioning and how well he'll care for himself on a ride. Conditioning because I don't know him, and we only have so much terrain around here to train on. Races are usually held on the sides of mountains, and I only have one approximately 500ft climb to practice on. However, we have a ton of steep, though short, hills in the pasture we have been walking him up regularly. And over conditioning him on the minor hills we have will help him motor up mountains at the races.
Here's one of those steep, though short, hills. This is great for walking up to build strength. It's like the horse equivalent of powering through some squats. It's actually steeper than this photo shows, because we go up to the left of this photo. Pig just refused to stand still, as per usual. Love him.
I'm extremely impressed with Dobare's forward trot and his ability to consistently hit a good pace. Right now he's averaging a flat trotted mile in 5:20. His top sustained speed is around 16 mph. That's pretty stellar!
(click to enlarge)
I am concerned about how well the horse will care for himself only because he's new to the sport. He's a smart horse, but he doesn't often drink or graze under saddle. He's got to learn to advocate for himself more in that regard. I'm hoping more mileage and experience will help him learn this skill. Right now, I think he's just in really good shape and doesn't yet see a reason not to wait till he gets back to camp to drink from a bucket and eat without a rider.
One of the few times he has drunk water under saddle with me. It was extremely humid that day, and he was tired.
I can't wait to write more about our training and competitions. It's fun to have something to plan for while I take a hiatus from dressage showing this year. In the meantime, please check out the video below to ride along on a recent training ride. (As a bonus, see if you can find the moment when I cross a bridge I really should get off and lead the horse across. Dobare is such a good boy, I didn't even think about it until later.) Make sure you follow along on Instagram for updates throughout the rest of the season!

Comments

  1. Ooh yay I was wondering if you were going to get to compete him too, or if you were just conditioning him. So exciting!!

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    1. Really exciting! Endurance rides are so freaking fun!

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  2. #foreverburningeyeswithmymixmatchedattire #itsokaytheywilllive #ihope #neverchanging #mixandmatch4eva

    He's gonna ROCK it at the race. I'm SO excited for you to get out and enjoy those trails!!

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    1. Super sad you won't be joining us, though!

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  3. he seems like such a cool horse - glad you're having so much fun with him!!

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    1. He is really cool, for sure. And truly loves his job. So funny, because these trails would be total torture for my two. Lol!

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  4. I've loved following along on the rides you do on him!!

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  5. I've been waiting for this update/wondering if I was missing something. That looks so fun!

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    1. Not missing anything, just slow to update over here!

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  6. I've enjoyed all your rides on instagram! How exciting

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    1. He will do u proud u should put his picture here the one with his head over ur shoulder lol

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    2. Thanks for following along Bree! It's so fun for me to look back later and see how well he's doing, too!

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