Monday, October 31, 2011

The Twenty Minute Lope


I think it was in one of the NWC Journal articles about cantering where Clinton said they loped for twenty minutes at their clinics...or at least tried to because many times the participants started to complain around minute 7 or 8. I wondered how hard it was to lope for twenty minutes. I wondered how hard it would be for Jessie. I thought we would give it a try.

Saturday afternoon's ride was a gentle little trot/walk ride to stretch the muscles out. We worked on a few little things but kept it light. Sunday, we didn't get to ride until the afternoon. The temperatures were in the low 70's and there was a nice breeze blowing. I picked the nine acre lot near the airpark as our main destination. We rode out to the alfalfa field where we did some warm-up exercises as well as some trotting and loping. After about ten minutes we headed over to the airpark. The field has some areas where there are a lot of gopher and/or squirrel holes, so we picked a path around the perimeter where the holes didn't seem too bad. Then reset the Garmin stopwatch and we were on our way.

The lot is big and my plan was to do a big square and then either try to cut through the middle to change directions and leads. I thought Jessie was going a little too fast and everytime I felt that, we loped a small circle. Unfortunately, many times the circles were in areas of questionable footing. She stumbled a number of times, but we kept going. She rarely tried to break down to a trot. There were a couple of instances when something along the other side of the fence got her attention, but other than that and perhaps wanting to be close to her buddy, she stayed on task. Around minute 16 or so she tried to really speed up to see if that would get us to stop. Then, she really kept pulling me back to Dusty who was exercising in the middle of the field. We kept pushing and shortly after the twentieth minute we found a good place to stop.

The Garmin read 3.16 miles which would give us an average speed of 9.48 mph. Only for a few short times did she give the smooth, slow canter I was looking for and most of those were at the beginning of the session. I wish I could have done the passenger lesson (in other words not steer her at all), but I didn't feel the footing was safe enough. She was much easier to steer through the whole session, which was a plus.

I let her air up for a minute or two and we went on the rest or our ride. We trotted much of the way back around our usual loop. I think that girl can trot all day long.

Next time I may try to break it up into a couple of five minute sections and see if that changes anything. And, this morning neither of us were too much the worse for wear by the whole thing (although SHE gets the whole day off)

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