It wasn’t long ago that Dixie Kendall wasn’t sure when she’d get to ride her off-track Thoroughbred mare, Steele, again. The stoic mare, who had only just begun her endurance career, sustained a fracture after a pasture accident and needed substantial time off.
Slowly and steadily, Dixie followed a strict rehabilitation program that included heart rate monitoring with Hylofit to ensure Steele was not in any pain. Horses, as we all know, don’t always wear their hearts on their sleeves. Heart rate, Dixie knew, would tell her a story about how Steele was feeling.
As the year progressed, Steele showed remarkable progress and a desire to return to full work. Soon, it became apparent that Dixie could make plans to compete again. She chose the Black Sheep Boogie Endurance Ride in Ohio as the first stop on Steele’s comeback tour. We’ll let Dixie take it from here to tell us all about her ride!
“The starting line of an endurance ride can be chaotic. Our ride had 28 entries and although Steele is typically very laid back, the starting line gave her a flashback to her racetrack days!! I chose to hand walk her the first mile of the ride so we could let the other riders distance themselves and I could reassure Steele that we had no agenda to race for this particular ride. Once the other horses were out of sight, I mounted up and Steele exceeded every expectation I had the remainder of the ride. She needed me to take care of her the first mile but she took care of me the remaining twenty-four.
At around Mile 20, there was a long stretch of flat gravel road so I let Steele pick up into a slow, hand gallop. I couldn't help but smile when I glanced at my Hylofit and saw that Steele's heart rate was lower galloping than it had been much of the ride. Within that stretch we caught up to five other riders in our race but I was determined to stick with my objective of bringing home the Turtle Award and ensuring Steele had a positive learning experience from the ride so we let the other riders pass us while Steele and I relaxed and waded in a creek to cool down. If there's one advantage a Thoroughbred has in endurance it will be those long, flat stretches where they can enjoy a relaxed gallop.
One of my favorite quotes is "The Thoroughbred athlete reigns supreme of the equine competition world. Classically beautiful, supremely talented, she long preserves what every other horse has long given up. Yet, she is not for everyone. Intolerant of ignorance, stupidity or impatience, she underscores her rider's every flaw and her trainer's every weakness."
Steele has made me a better horseman and we have developed a mutual respect that I believe will be our competitive advantage in endurance. I have never ridden a horse with such heart and athleticism nor have I ever experienced a horse so trusting and loyal to me. She never questioned what I asked of her the entire ride and I have no doubt that she would keep going until her body failed if I asked. That is the heart of a Thoroughbred!!
In my opinion, a Thoroughbred is not a weak breed that is prone to injury like many people stereotype but it's a breed that requires an educated and considerate rider because these horses will give their riders every ounce of effort to the point of body failure. That's why I am so thankful for my Hylofit as an additional resource for me to monitor Steele's health and well-being. She is my heart horse and I want to share the trails with her for as long as possible!!