Rancho San Antonio Conditioning Ride

We felt like sleeping in again so we chose a short drive to Rancho San Antonio Open Space on Sunday. We wanted to do a bit of a conditioning ride as our horses are not in great shape and we want to eventually be able to do a short endurance ride this year. We used to board near this park and I can remember doing 13 mile rides in a few hours without our horses feeling taxed. Nowadays, they can barely make it up a hill without being out of breath.

One of the nice things about our previous boarding location was the "graveyard loop" - a short 3 mile trail around a nearby graveyard that we could do every morning or afternoon. At our current barn, we can only do out and backs; no loops. There's also not a good route to take that doesn't involve a steep hill up or down. The graveyard loop was rolling hills, but mostly flat, which let us trot/run most of the loop. Now we have hills we'd need to walk down so it's not possible to just get a quick 3 miles in.

We started out by climbing up to the top vista point. It's a 1200' climb from the parking lot to the top. The climb is also over 4 miles, so a much less strenuous climb than we had at Henry Coe. We did quite a bit of trotting mixed in with letting them walk and catch their breath. We also stopped up at the top and hopped off to give them a good 10 minute break while they ate grass. I was excited to see that the park has reopened the Quarry trail which connects to Black Mountain. It's been closed for years. We didn't head that way today as it would be a much longer ride. Hopefully next time.

Shasta at the vista point

Nilla did not want to put her ears forward

gorgeous trails through the trees
We left the vista point and headed down. It as hard to get a lot of trotting in going downhill, but once we got down to the bottom, we trotted most of the way back to the farm. We stopped to let them drink and refill our water bottle. It's good to see they've started drinking more on trips. They're going to need to be able to do this if we do an endurance ride.

After the farm we trotted almost all of the one mile back up to the junction before we walked down the last bit to the trailer. This section was much more gradual so they managed to truck along despite being tired from a long ride. It probably helps we were heading back "home."

I forgot to turn the gps on in the beginning and then forgot to turn it off until we were driving out of the parking lot, but here's a graph:

We managed about 10.5 miles in about 2:45 including rests, which is about 3.8 mph. We need to be able to do 5 mph to do a 25 mile endurance ride. We really need to be able to do 6mph to have some leeway. The goal at the moment is to try a 15 mile introductory ride, which I know the horses can do easily. It's really my knee that's a stumbling block to do anything more intense. It's hurting a bit the next day, but I did make it through the ride without a ton of pain so I'm trying to stay optimistic.

They were very sweaty and dirty beasts who needed a good bit of scrubbing and alcohol and liniment. Then we loaded them up to take them home. Back at the barn, we let them roll, put everything away, and then fed them. Dijon and Nilla were nice enough to share with the chickens.

This picture might lead you to think I have a thing for Palominos... 

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