Boomer got his 5 days off followed by two days of trail riding, 2 hours and 4 hours of easy walking on Saturday and Sunday. Monday was a Dressage day (awesome- best lateral work ever! Shoulder In was a breeze, even at the trot!) and Tuesday was just a 'blowing off steam' day in the round pen.
I am really amazed at not only how quickly he recovered but at how much energy he has. That 5 days off was the most he has had off in months (since our last ride?) and I could tell that he needs the work to stay sane. *Boomer says, "Let's GO! Come on, faster! Can we GO please? GO! GO! Now! GO! PLEASE?"*
We are already planning to do our next ride this weekend in Sedalia, MO. It is along the Katy Trail, which I am very excited about! The trail is along an old railway so it will be 'flat and fast' as they say in 'marathon speak'. It goes about 25 miles from one town through a small town and right in to the middle of another small town for the Vet check, then through to another town where we turn around and go back through the vet check and on home! I am curious to see how Boomer's fitness is on this flat, easy trail. I figure this will give a good baseline of fitness as there won't be any hills or climbs to factor in. Clearly, we aren't racing anyone and I would be quite thrilled to be 3 for 3 on the Turtle Award!
In preparation, I have been doing a few things a little differently. As I talked about before, I learned a lot at our last ride and I'm trying new things.
First, my Turtle Award at the Spring Fling was a bag of Ultium. I used it before and it made Boomer... insane. However, I was feeding him 5(!!!) pounds a day and he wasn't really working as an athlete then. Now, I am feeding him 3/4 pound of Strategy plus ~1/4 pound Ultium, and 2 oz Cool Calories 100 for added fat without 'energy'. Boomer has been very 'up' this week which is probably a combination of the lack of work, high energy feed, and fresh spring grass. I'm making him work and the energy is staying fairly manageable. I'm hoping that the energy translates to sustained energy during our next ride.
Second, I am going to start beet pulp Wednesday and feed it through the ride for added fiber and moisture. I think our biggest challenge at the Spring Fling was hydration and I need to do everything I can to stay on top of that in case Boomer doesn't take care of himself and drink on the ride.
Third thing I am working on is a list/plan for the vet checks. They are both out of camp and it will be a new, exciting challenge to be prepared for that! I plan on sending a flake of hay, bucket for milkshake (5 gallons water, handful of grain), pre-soaked beet pulp with handful of grain and electrolytes mixed in, halter, cooler, and people snacks for each of the two checks. My plan is to *hopefully* get him to drink along the trail (there are supposed to be water tanks every 5(!) miles). I also plan on offering him a milkshake at each stop before the vet check and then a beet pulp mash with electrolytes after the vet check during our hold time. I am hoping that this strategy will help him stay hydrated and keep him going strong for the whole ride.
Other than those few things, I am pretty well prepared. The trailer is mostly organized, I need to get the people food ready, I have maps printed out and all of my paperwork in order. I am planning on leaving Friday morning around 10 and John is going to meet me there after he gets off work. It will be my first time hauling alone, but it is only 2 hours away and I will be in easy phone range in case of emergency!