top of page

Thanks for subscribing!

Subscribe to the Blog!

Subscribe to the Blog!

Eagle Canyon Conquest: Our First Ride of the Season

It’s ride season!!!

To start this 2024 season off, Sandy and I completed our first-ever multi-day ride at Eagle Canyon. We did back-to-back LD (Limited Distance) rides of 25 miles each. 

Our overall goal this year is to do our first 50-mile endurance ride together, so I was hoping the two 25-milers would give me a good idea of where we are at with our conditioning and if we need to push our 50-mile date back or not. 

I’m happy to say overall the ride went fantastic!

A little about Eagle Canyon

Eagle Canyon was my first endurance ride ever, where I completed my first 50 miles on a friend’s horse. I was so excited to go back to this ride on my own horse and see how we fared!

The Eagle Canyon ride has beautiful views and lots and lots of hills. This is a perfect ride if you want to test yourself and your horse against some nice gradual and steep climbs. 

The footing is nice and soft with only a couple of short stretches along the dirt road. There are a few water crossings depending on the loop you are taking, which honestly just made for some nice cold drinking and cool-off opportunities. 

Camping is in a large grassy clearing that makes it easy to keep your rig level, just beware of the gopher holes! They are everywhere and can get quite large!

Both years we have gone in the spring has been quite chilly in the evenings, so, be prepared to pack lots of blankets and jackets if you don’t have a camper. 

two horses looking at each other
girl standing by horse

Ride Prep:


horse grazing in the mountains

I have been nervous/excited leading up to these 2 days. I constantly wonder if we’ve done enough to get Sandy to where she needs to be. We had more of a mild winter in our area of Idaho this year so I was able to keep her ridden about once a week during the cold months, and have been building her up with 2-3 conditioning rides each week schedule and weather permitting. 

It’s been pretty cool compared to where we were last year at this time. We’ve been able to cover about 2x the mileage in the same amount of time, and Sandy has made the mileage look easy. 

I’ve also been doing a lot more research into nutrition and supplementation and am playing around with some different things including adding beet pulp into her diet as well as supplementing with Vitamin E and doing some race day supplementation strategies to see if I can continue to help support her during these stressful times. 

Girl riding horse on trail

My Training

If you haven’t read about my personal goals for this year check out this blog post to give you more insight on what I’m expecting of myself this year. 

Overall, my personal prep has been going well. I’ve been focusing my own training on improving my balance, endurance, and muscle control to balance out the asymmetries I’ve noticed in my riding. I’ve noticed quite a bit of improvement when it comes to my connection and endurance in the saddle. 

My Nutrition

I’ve been in a ‘fat loss phase’ (If you want to see more of how I do phases check out THIS POST) for the last couple of months. So, leading up to the ride I boosted my calories back up to a comfortable maintenance level and did a mini carb load to make sure I had all the glycogen stores I would need for this ride. 

Here’s a look at some of the food I prepped for this ride:

chicken and veggies cooked in foil
Chicken and veggies on cookie sheets
snacks, cliff bars Gatorade, salt, canned chicken, sitting on the counter

Day 1 

Alright, now to our rides.

I have come to find that I’m never truly going to know what Sandy will be like at the start of a ride. If you go back and look through last year’s ride posts you’ll know what I mean. 

This time around she struggled with her anxiety a lot more than any of our other rides. During our warm-up she struggled to come down and relax as we walked around camp. I wasn’t sure what to do to help her more but kept her at a walk and encouraged her to eat as we waited for the “trail open” signal. 

As we left camp, she really came apart. She spun, thought about rearing, and finally stood shaking all over from the adrenaline and stress of seeing all the other horses. So, I stopped her and did some small circles as we waited for all the riders to get past us - even then she was struggling not to race forward. I ended up getting off of her and hiking with her to keep her from burning herself out. 

Then, as we finally overcame those jitters and I was able to get back on I looked down to see that we had lost a boot…. One of her new 4-week-old boots…. Unfortunately, I’m not in a place where I want to fork out the money for another new boot so we turned back. 

As we did so, two riders came up and gave me a spare boot of theirs that fit well, they were so wonderful and offered to stop their ride and help me with the boot situation. Luckily, my lost boot wasn’t too far behind me, so, I was able to get it put back on. But, from that point I found myself checking boots about every 30 seconds, which was lucky because during these frequent checks I watched two more boots fly off. 

By the time we finished our first loops, I knew the chances of us getting back in time were pretty slim. But my husband, Eric, helped me adjust the boots and we headed out for our second loop which I’m happy to report went quickly with no boot issues. 

We ended up finishing that second with just a few minutes to spare, but she vetted well and we got the green light for the next day’s ride!

Day 2 

I’m so glad I had a second day to be able to work on the things from the previous day. It truly made a huge difference in how I was able to view the previous ride, and instead of being frustrated with the hiccups I was able to look at them as learning curves and come up with a plan on what we’d do differently for the next day. 

The next day, I got on Sandy for her warm-up as soon as the 50’s left, so, about 30 minutes early, to really focus on helping her calm her anxiety. This worked well and by the time the trail was open, she was in a much better head space. 

It was fun to be able to do the loops all mounted and focus more on our ride with the boots staying firmly in place. 

This ride we were also closer to the front/middle of the pack and had multiple times when we got passed and had riders pass us. This created great opportunities for Sandy to practice her leaving and being left skills - neither of which we enjoy very much ;). But by the end of the ride, she was a lot more comfortable with the idea. 

My goal for Sandy on both days was to have her come in feeling amazing with As on her vet card. I focused particularly on her gut sounds as that’s an area she always gets marked down in. So we stopped often to try and help her eat (which she doesn’t like to do when there are horses to catch up to). All this paid off in the end!

To my surprise, we came in 5th place overall on the second day and I had a wonderful lady come over and help me get her heart rate down quicker as well as give me some amazing pointers on helping Sandy do well in the CRIs as we competed for Best Condition. 

horse drinking water

(NOTE: For those of you who are new and don’t know what CRIs are they stand for Cardiac Recovery Index. The vet takes the horse’s heart rate then you trot the horse in-hand for a specified length the vet will tell you. Then exactly 60 seconds after you come back from the trot they will test the heart again. The ideal is to have the heart rate be either the same or lower than the initial heart rate they took before your trot out. This allows them to see how tired your horse is and how fit they are to continue.)

To end a great first ride Sandy and I won both the award for Best Condition and the High Vet Card award! Words cannot describe how excited I am to have earned these awards. Sandy and I have both worked so hard to get her ready for this season and have come a long way from our first ride last June when she struggled to get her heart rate down in time, to winning Best Condition. 

For those of you who don’t know the Best Condition Award the AERC Rider Handbook states, “The Best Condition award is earned by the horse judged by the control judging team to have finished in the best condition, based on a score which is derived from a combination of considerations, including riding time, weight carried, and physical state.”

This is an award I honestly wasn’t sure we’d ever be able to qualify for, especially as a quarter horse pair competing against some amazing endurance-bred athletes, so to have gotten this soon in our career has been such an honor and just makes me want to continue to work hard to keep Sandy feeling and performing well!

Thanks for reading! Make sure to like and comment on this post as well as subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss our next ride which we plan to be our first 50!!

36 views1 comment

1 commento

Great information and detail. I definitely will read the article Understanding the Cardiac Recovery. Well done on your BC!

Mi piace
bottom of page