Blackwood Marathon

Discussion in 'Training Horses' started by Born to Ride, Aug 19, 2013.

  1. Born to Ride

    Born to Ride Well-known Member

    Who's done it?

    I am considering doing it and would like to hear from those who have done it :)
    And what you did to train for it, like a week to week training program, for yourself and you horse? :)
  2. Paint8

    Paint8 Well-known Member

    I have done it a couple of times and trained my horse for a friend to use in the iron man section.

    You need at least 10 weeks of training. The last time I did it I was lucky enough to live next to the pines so 4 times a week I rode out at a trot for about 45 to an hour, I then turned for home and let him pace himself. He swapped from trot to canter about 10 times and paced himself really well.

    This is not a casual ride and if your horse is an ex racer they are quite likely to think they are back on the race course. Your horse has to be able to settle really well at the end cause even once you are off they can see other horses coming over the hill.

    Most years atleast one horse has to be destroyed for vairing reasons.
  3. CTCT

    CTCT New Member

    I'd have to disagree with that... There were a number of incidents early on, but I have been a part, either as a rider or as part of the crew receiving horses at the end of that leg, for 10 years now and I think the last time I saw a horse in real trouble was 3 years ago. That one was hospitalised, and made a full recovery. The last death I know of was 5+ years ago.
    The biggest issue is that of riders getting involved in a competitive team and going faster than their horse really should go. It is "only" 16km but it is a hilly, twisty 16km and quite tough if you do not have access to killer hills to train on. The vets who do the checks at the end of the ride are not experienced endurance vets or full time horse vets, and do not take some of the presenting conditions such as colic as seriously as some might, so you need to know your horse.
    All that said, it's bloody good fun! A fit C grade eventer probably wouldn't need much extra training: depends on your team and how fast you want to go. Every year the fastest times are sub 30 minutes so that's cantering the whole way, but you will also have people who take over an hour. The horse I used to ride turned in the 16th best time overall, at about 38 minutes, 3 years ago: we were training three days a week: one long day of about 20 - 25km of pretty solid trotting, one day of interval training (3 minutes canter, 2 minutes walk recovery, building up the number of repetitions as we got closer to race day), and one hour long arena session to keep him supple. We have no hills so had to up the distance a bit.
    The start can be chaotic, so you need a horse who isn't going to lose the plot watching others gallop away from them, or be prepared to hang well back and lose a few minutes. And as Paint8 said, one that isn't going to stay all excited watching other horses come down the hill into the finish.
    A horse with a good ground eating trot and who is nimble downhill is a real advantage.
  4. Murray

    Murray Well-known Member Staff Member

    I don't think that you would have any problem whatsoever btr.**) Our team came 9th the year I did it and yes I did work my tb mare accordingly and was glad that I did.:)

  5. Born to Ride

    Born to Ride Well-known Member

    Thanks everyone for your replies. :)

    I feel my mare will be fit enough, as she is already quite fit and I will train her properly.
    If I can find myself a team think ill give it a go :)
  6. beaudacious

    beaudacious Well-known Member

    Back when i was working at a trail riding place we had a fair few people hire our horses for the blackwood. Most of the horses used were ridden 2-4 days each week. They could work anywhere from 2 hours to 6 hours in a day depending on the demand so fitness really wasnt an issue.

    In the link below there is a guide to training your horse for the blackwood. The main things you need to worry about other than fitness is making sure your horse will happily stand for the vet checks and that you have a good recovery plan in place so that you pass the final vet check.
  7. kiraSpark

    kiraSpark Gold Member

    Boyfriend and I are both riding this year. He has competed before, but I havent. We were asked by his friends who put together 2 teams each year.

    We started jogging our horses up about a month ago for the campdraft season anyway, we work them 5 days a week, around three-quarters of an hour each time. Mostly trotting with some cantering. We also live in pretty darn hilly country, so a fair bit of that is hill work.

    The two horses we are taking are seasoned campdrafters and are totally unfussed about camping away and noise and other horses carrying on. The teams we are on are 'just for fun', not super-competitive so I dont plan on cantering the whole way :p

    But what happens at the finish? Thats the part I dont know about. How long do you get before the vet check? What do people normally do as far as cooling/watering/sponging them down? And do you finish at the same place as the start? Can anyone fill me in :)
  8. Katsin

    Katsin Active Member

    I've done this event a few times, I've been a strapper and a helper at the start, finish and in between. It is great fun.

    At the finish you pass the bib to your bike rider and as you go into the strapping area get handed a card which should say when you are due to be vetted through - 30 minutes. Some one will call your number out to come to the vets but it is up to you to make sure you are there on time.

    In the strapping area there are hoses (but only 2) and a large water trough, so it is a good idea to have your strappers bring a lot of buckets and sponges and set them up before you get there. Also strap for the conditions ie take into account how hot or cold it is on the day. Usually it is warmish and lovely but I have ridden this course with hail coming down on my helmet!

    The better you know your horse the better it is (always) and if you can find some hills to train on that is a really good thing as there are a couple of good ones on the course.
  9. buggalugs

    buggalugs Well-known Member

    this is such a great event - so different to every other adventure/race!!

    this year i am doing it ironwoman. having to get myself fit, working away alot and running my own business means that i've really had to think about my strategy. the last time i did the horse leg i was on my ex-racehorse turned * eventer and we came in 8th or 9th in 31min, but this time i will be on my little american saddlebred x who is completely different to train.

    what everyone has said above is prefect, i'll just tell you what im doing.

    we have started our endurance style work on wkends (usually both days) - i trot him out about 4km, let him take his own pace along a heavy sand track (so usually flat tack gallop... this horse LOVES to run) thats about 4km long and then i have to make him trot home the 5km (he would canter if i let him). his heart rate falls below 60 within 20min. however this horse is already intro/prelim level eventing fit (even tho we havent really competed this yr) and has a long history of bush riding over long distances (we used to chase cattle in the bush for about 50km a day and like humans, muscle memory is king).

    on top of that i try to flat him 2x during the week (more for the fact i am trying to get him out to more dressage comps), sometimes i do things differently, but at the end of the day, 16km is not a huge distance. if your horse is fit, you simply need to ride them to their fitness level on the day.

    unfortunately i have to hand over the reins at the end of the horse leg, fortunately i have a stellar best friend who will look after his recovery for me. and all going to plan i will be at the finish not too long after he gets his final vet check! hope to see you there!! and if you are... come say hi :)
  10. kiraSpark

    kiraSpark Gold Member

    Not long to go now! Who is going this weekend?
  11. maxntaz

    maxntaz Well-known Member

    Good luck Kira hope you have fun:)
  12. kiraSpark

    kiraSpark Gold Member

    Thanks Maxntaz, its going to be interesting, thats for sure!! :eek:
  13. CTCT

    CTCT New Member

    Yep, me :)*
    Team number 56. Come and say hi.
  14. Katsin

    Katsin Active Member

    I'm just sulking cos this is the first year I won't be there in 15plus years.

    I don't think the ground will be too hard this year but there are some nice muddy sections I suspect with the late rain we have had this year.

    Have a great time everyone!
  15. CTCT

    CTCT New Member

    Yep, it's likely to be muddy. Not much walking in the canoe leg though, which is great.
    Forecast for the day is quite good though - it can throw anything at you down there at this time of year, from hail to heat..
  16. ASH lover

    ASH lover Well-known Member

    So who went, and how did you go? :)
    I saw kiraspark, and guessed you guys vetted ok, but we left just as you were in with the vet!
  17. CTCT

    CTCT New Member

    16th fastest horse f the day at 43 minutes and something... **) Very happy with how the team went, and especially with my pony: we don;t get to train on hills where we live very much but he dug in and toughed it out like a good 'un. It was pretty warm but I didn't see a single horse that looked to be in any trouble, so that was even better.
  18. kiraSpark

    kiraSpark Gold Member

    Our corporate team finished 3rd overall!
    My horse vetted through fine with a heart rate of 48 which I was pleased with, because we didn't do much training leading up to it.
    My time was 1:04 which I know is quite slow, I took it easy being my first time I didn't know what to expect.
    It was really fun, everyone was really polite when passing etc, not as crazy as i thought it might be, I only saw one out of control horse who came galloping past with a wobbly rider trying to get him under control, she even called out 'sorry!' on the way past and kept circling into the bush to slow him up, luckily my horse wasn't worried, but all in all I really enjoyed it and will be back next year :)

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