Update from our brand ambassador, Julie Jones
We have now started our training for the first ride at Pembrey at the end of April (fingers crossed it will go ahead). A late start to the season but as we had no season at all last year, we are counting our blessings that we will have one in 2021 – providing we come out of lockdown in time. As the weather is hit and miss and the ground so wet, we are keeping to the roads and tracks. So, we are out 4 times a week for around an hour or so each time – but I have some steep hills around me so that hour is quite hard work!! There are climbs of around 50 to 150 metres – some steep and some longer and gentler. We mainly trot but do a form of interval training so on hills I trot until I feel Raf start to peter out, ask for 2 more steps then let him have a short breather before going again (remembering to change diagonals often). On average it is about 35 trot steps to 10 walk steps. Over time the trot will get a lot longer and the walk steps will reduce to nothing. I make him walk downhill in a balanced way to get his back and hindquarters really working. We canter once a week at the moment, either down our track or on a short steep track. Over the next week or so I will start to add a longer track based ride in which will have more canter work (and once out of lockdown we will go into the forestry once a week for a 20K ride on hilly tracks with plenty of long canters). We will still keep to 4 days though as we don’t want too many miles on Raf’s legs, and the rest days are as important as the training days. He is out on a hill too so that helps with fitness – although not for my nerves as the herd came galloping flat out from top to bottom yesterday when I called them in for their dinner!
After work he has TLC Lotion on his legs and Muscle Magic on his back before finishing his breakfast, being rugged up and turned out (I ride first thing in the morning). I feed all of the horses and tack up whilst he is eating half his breakfast and he has the rest when we get back. All of our horses are on a fibre-based diet and so it is OK to let them have some before riding out. They are never without food in their gut as it is so easy to cause digestive upsets and ulcers if they have empty stomachs. Before an endurance ride, they are tacked up with a bucket of fibre (soaked beet, grass nuts and chaff) and are given beet water/sloppy beet at crew points along with the odd carrot and apple. I also feed GastriX to one of the horses who had girthing issues and since being on it these have lessened to the point of going away now.
We have snow today so no riding, but they are out playing in the white stuff – I am sure that if I gave them a sledge each, they’d be whizzing down the hill on them!