Cross Training? - The Horse Forum
  • 1 Post By Sharpie
  • 3 Post By Brighteyes
  • 2 Post By EnduranceLover6
  • 1 Post By greentree
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post #1 of 7 Old 05-18-2014, 12:27 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Mid Northern TN
Posts: 2,475
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Cross Training?

What cross training (if any) do you all do with your horses?

My only lessons ever are in dressage, so that is my go-to for doing work other than conditioning and exposure to the big wide scary world out on the trail. Since we've been really conditioning for our last 50, I've really slacked off on it though. Now that I won't be able to fit in another ride before deployment, I've been picking it back up and WOW is it another kind of work out! I think both Mr. Jayne and I were tired by the end of today. We can eat up miles on the trail, but an hour working on a bend and especially on picking up the correct canter leads while staying on a circle without falling in, out, getting stiff, straight, or any of those other things about killed us both. My back and legs were feeling it!

How do you feel cross training effects you and your horses? Any favorite activities? I do feel like my horse will be great if I ever want to show him elsewhere. After a few ridecamps and starts, he knows how to handle himself in the midst of some chaos and energy!
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post #2 of 7 Old 05-18-2014, 12:36 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Georgia
Posts: 3,246
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I was trained to be a jumper, so I cross train both my mares over low fences. I do a lot of grids (18-24") and trot/canter ground poles. I don't have any hills in central Georgia, so this type of training gives them a good butt workout. I only jump once every week or two.

I do flat work. I've never had a dressage lesson, so I just play the scales. I try to get three speeds -- slow, medium, and fast -- in every gait. I do lateral work -- sidepassing, leg yielding. We work on relaxed circles and picking up/changing leads. Transitions in and out of all gaits.

My horses are very trail fit, and these work outs get them steaming! I can tire them out in less than an hour. I think cross training helps achieve a well rounded horse that isn't "just an endurance horse." I've met so many endurance horses who are conditioned to death but are never "trained." They don't have a canter cue, can't move laterally off pressure, don't stand still to mount, and are terrified of an arena.

Both my horses are also used in a lesson program by little kids. So they are forced to kick giant soccer balls, do trail class obstacles, and basically adapt to these kids' fancies.
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post #3 of 7 Old 05-19-2014, 07:31 PM
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Maryland
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I do a ton of cross training with my horses. I go by the 50:50 rule when it come to schooling & conditioning. I keep a log for my endurance horse that records the type of ride (schooling--arena/flatwork, conditioning--trail/mileage), duration of the lesson/ride, mileage (if on trail), and HR/recoveries (if on trail). I do not particularly enjoy being in the arena, however keeping a journal forces me to notice if I'm favoring trail work or not doing enough of one or the other.

I have seen a HUGE different in my mare's muscling and overall strength when comparing her this season to last season when I did not cross train much. Some of the things we do when cross training include dressage/flatwork, jumping/jumping gymnastics, longeing at all 3 gaits in side reins/pessoa, lateral work at the walk on trail, cardio trail days (consistent speed), rapid-fire transitions in the arena, track work (high speed), etc.

Cross training also involves desensitizing...if we have an opportunity to do something fun/scary/out of the ordinary we do it, so long as it is safe and it sets the horse up for success. This could involve chasing the barking dog, herding a loose cow back into its pasture, following farm equipment down the road, riding through construction, etc.

Some pictures of us cross training/desensitizing...and a final before and after picture of my mare after a year's worth of work.

Approaching the scary grain bag

Jumping chute



Western Pleasure

Track Work

Beginner Lessons (aka. my boyfriend)

Riding through deep snow

Free Longeing

Before & After
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post #4 of 7 Old 05-21-2014, 05:04 PM
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Kentucky
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I drive my horses in between rides, and we work on dressage. The ride I did on Tootsie was SO nice because she responds to voice commands so automatically. "Ease" means slow hauling on her face, no fight, she just slows down for a downhill or patch of rocks or mud.

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post #5 of 7 Old 05-22-2014, 01:22 AM
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: New Mexico
Posts: 1,032
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I haven't competed in an endurance ride yet but it is my goal. Along with trying to get in good trail miles I use my two horses in other disciplines. I rope and do cow work including cutting and penning. I also run barrels and poles for fun- mostly. I also do some English with both and jumping.

I want my home to be able to anything when asked. Ranch work to trails to arena events etc. All of it makes for a better horse and it's good for my own horsemanship. I am no expert in all disciplines or any discipline but the basics in each are great cross training!
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post #6 of 7 Old 06-12-2014, 10:47 AM
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: the West
Posts: 30
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We move cattle now and then. And we started putting on a few trail challenges here - great for desensitizing, and for practicing maneuvers - sidepasses, backing, watching their feet, etc.
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post #7 of 7 Old 06-12-2014, 11:34 PM
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Posts: 351
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I take cross training to extremes, but I have a talented and versatile horse so keeping him fresh mentally and physically takes a bit of an effort.

I haven't competed with him yet in LDs but he drives, he is an OTSTB and has a fantastic fox trot and rack, so we do gaited dressage, and teaching him trail obstacles.

Cross training helps with not only conditioning, but keeps them fresh mentally.
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