The most important preparation, it seems, is to learn appropriate speed by marking a track at various distances and trying to cover those distances in a set amount of time. As many times as I have gotten the advice to do this, I never have (hanging head in shame). Until this week, that is, when I measured out the track at Panther Springs. I measured out to 220 meters (should take one minute at a brisk trot), 350 meters (should take one minute at a nice forward canter), 400 meters (should take one minute at an easy gallop), on up to 420 (the lower limit of Training level cross country speed), 450, 470 (the upper limit of Training level cross country speed), and 500 and 520 (the range of speeds for the steeplechase phase).
The 400 meter marker (orange cone)
Then I tacked up and hopped on. I did my trot sets (220 is indeed a brisk trot) and then tried some canters. My idea was that I would do what felt like an easy gallop and see how far I got in one minute. So I did that, and found out that I was going a whopping 350 meters per minute. I was a little surprised since I thought that it was more like 400. Lesson number one—I was not going as fast as I thought. I was riding with the hand brake on—partly because I did not want to set off a green horse that Amy was riding, and partly because I was wondering whether Taco would go nuts and take off. Both concerns were unwarranted. But I felt it was a good session because I know what I need to do next time—take the hand brake off! I can't wait.
This has been a challenging week in other ways since I took my truck in for a leaking brake line. I went to a garage in Nashville, which specializes in heavier-duty work than my usual garage. The mechanics discovered major work that needed to be done, including brakes (pads, rotors, and drums) and the front end (tie rod ends, ball joint, radius arm bushing). Ouch! Apparently the garage that I have been using for oil changes has not been lubricating the chassis properly or inspecting the brakes, and thus missed some developing problems. I am angry with them, to say the least. I am just grateful that I had the brake line problem when I was not hauling so that it was discovered before I was on the road with my precious cargo.
I am out of town (again) for July 4th, and then I return for about a week before eventing camp at Come Again Farm in Indiana. I will blog as much as possible from camp to update on everything I'll be learning!
Taco says: "C'mon! Let's go fast!"