Year End Riding Recap & Goals

You may have read about what a challenging year 2016 has been for us.  I didn’t make it to a single endurance ride, as our early spring planned ride was cancelled, then Ink was sidelined with a ligament injury just weeks before our next intended first ride of the year.  Squidy was recovering from pregnancy and complications.  Moxie came along to keep me busy riding, but then she spent many months recovering from unlikely medical complications resulting from a small cut.

Somehow, I managed to accumulate 784 miles in the saddle, or rather bareback as many were.  I spent 220 hours horseback, and climbed 74,404 ft of elevation gain.  I was surprised it was that much, as I felt like I wasn’t able to ride much at all most of the year.

Ink put in over 300 miles in the spring before her injury.  Ink needed months of hand walking as part of her rehab plan, and it turns out Squidy needed months of slow walking to help rebuild her topline and recover from pregnancy.  So Squidy stepped up, and I rode her bareback each day while ponying Ink.  Two birds with one stone, as they say.  Then Moxie also required handwalking as part of her medical plan.  No problem, the good ol’ cowpony can handle two at once.  So then more miles walking all three horses.

Double ponying. Good cowpony.

All of the handwalking/ponying was wonderful for Squidy, and she recovered quickly and after a few months was ready to ramp up her own workload.  She started light trail conditioning and dressage work and has gotten quite fit and looks much better.  We are still working on her baby induced sway back, but it has improved dramatically.  She is now doing really nice dressage work and is conditioning for endurance riding.  I was surprised to discover that Squidy, the old out of shape Quarter Horse, actually has by far the lowest working heart rate and recoveries of any horse I’ve ever ridden.  I don’t know what her future holds, at age 17 and having had a rough life before we got her, I worry whether she will stay sound for endurance work…  but she’s built well and has amazing work ethic, so we shall see.  She was fit and conditioned for LD endurance a couple years ago, but never actually made it to a ride.  That, plus years of long slow trail rides, developed a really nice solid base and has built good strong legs.  We’ll take it slowly and watch closely for signs of problems, but if all goes well I would love to see Squidy start with a spring 50 mile ride.  She is so happy to be in full work again and loves to go down the trail.  This horse thrives on having a structured job.  As long as she is happy and sound, I see no reason why she can’t conquer a slow 50.  Time will tell…

Moxie recovered quite well from her thrombosed jugular vein, and is now doing intro dressage work and slow trail riding.  I will continue building her base conditioning with more slow trail rides and dressage through the winter, then gradually start increasing conservative endurance conditioning.  I hope to start her with a 50 mile ride late summer or fall.  The more time I spend with her, the more I am convinced that she is going to be an amazing endurance horse.

Moxie had just started riding on the bit a week or so ago when this picture was taken (previously was just loose rein trail rides while her jugular healed). Such a good girl! 

Ink’s rehab is making slow progress.  She is sound, but the ultrasound showed less healing than we had hoped for.  Still, our vet wants her to start the walking under saddle stage of rehab to help the fibers align smoothly as they heal.  We are currently up to 30 minutes per day.  Unbelievably boring!  I let the other horses loose in the arena while Ink walks, and they often follow along behind the boss mare, as if they’ve been instructed to do so.  Too cute!  It is like having an equicizer for the others.  Bonus!  To beat the boredom I’ve started listening to audio books while riding Ink around the arena for endless laps.  Ink seems happy to have a job again, no matter how mundane.  She is much less cranky and is now accepting nose kisses again.

Ink’s future is uncertain.  For now, we will just follow the long slow return to work protocol as described by our vet.  Once we’ve made it through the whole rehab protocol, we will evaluate whether or not to attempt to return to endurance.  Ink is a lovely dressage horse and enjoys leisurely trail riding also, so we will find a job for her either way.

I really missed endurance conditioning rides with my friends and going to actual endurance rides this year.  I managed to make the best of what I had, and I was able to ride friends’ horses occasionally as well (though I didn’t log those miles on my spreadsheets).  I really hope 2017 is a much better year!

I’m going to write my 2017 goals here, hopefully to check them off throughout the year:

  • Squidy:  conquer Training level and start First level dressage, spring 50 mile endurance ride
  • Moxie:  Training level dressage, late summer / fall 50 mile endurance ride
  • Ink:  full successful rehab, hopefully a fall LD (25 miles)
  • Running:  10k trail run, Ride & Tie (more about this later)

2017 is off to a good start with a leisurely New Years Day trail ride with friends



  1. Here’s to wishing you an absolutely fantastic start on this new year! Well deserved!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome goals! Keeping all fingers crossed for Ink’s continued rehab, I have a similar end goal in mind for my mare as well


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