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Eric Hought

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The 8th ride today was about 10 miles long. She intermittently trotted or loped a total if about ¾ to 1 mile. Not much happened other than meeting a motor cycle. That was the first time that I have met one so unexpectedly, some unsettled action, but he turned it off as soon as he saw me, which was great. I asked him to just push it up the trail to where it was wide enough for him to just sit slightly off the side of the trail. He only had to go 10-20 feet. I asked him to just sit so I could let her stand beside it. He petted her and she smelled the cycle. She relaxed so we talked a few minutes. I went on by, he started it up and she really didn't pay much attention.

I don't trot or lope her downhill for the first year. The second year she will see limited down hill training in easy short sections of trail. I will practice that strictly for the next 2 full years. She is young, growing and not legged up. If I am going to error about going downhill, I will error in her favor. By that, I mean not trot or lope downhill at all. I think that many riders don't wait that long to start going downhill at a faster gait even though the horse can do it easily. Older horses that are not in any physical condition should be conditioned the same. Tempest has many years ahead of her, there is no hurry. I am sure many of us can think of riders who are riding young ones downhill because the rider thinks they are doing the right thing. I wait for two years of training and conditioning before I ask for any speed downhill. I believe it is an error centering around the riders' desire to compete or be competitive too soon.

My observations are pointed and somewhat biased I must admit. The problem is that by watching at endurance rides I see practices by many riders. Any given equine discipline will demonstrate a couple of practices are, "the in thing," that everyone does to solve a given problem, and when in Rome, do as the Roman’s do. One case in point is the use of martingales. That is how I came to be riding Tempest. Gail was riding Tempest with a martingale and was not making any progress. The filly was braced up in the neck, shoulders and front legs. It prepositioned her to elevate in front. It was causing more and more frustration on Gail’s part and of course Tempest’s.


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