Starting a horse on conditioning - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 11-15-2010, 07:55 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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Starting a horse on conditioning

I am thinking about starting doing some conditioning with Blue. He gets huffy and puffy after climbing one hill, and was pretty tired after a two hour arena ride at mostly the walk and trot.

Any ideas on how to start a healthy conditioning program?

RH Queen O Anywhere "Sydney"
2009 Sugarbush draft
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post #2 of 8 Old 11-15-2010, 08:32 PM
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You're already doing the best thing, trail riding, Just keep taking him out at the slower gaits until he builds up some tolerance to exercise. They're not like us humans. Most muscle up very quickly.

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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post #3 of 8 Old 11-15-2010, 08:58 PM
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Sounds like what you are doing is good; hills and lots of walking. It is easier for a horse to canter than trot and trot than walk. I mean it's more energy efficient and easier on hills. So, I would have him walk up the hills and do lots of walking in bending and lots of changes of gaits. And once in awhile, have him gallop up the hill so that he really huffs and puffs and cleans out his pipes.
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post #4 of 8 Old 11-15-2010, 09:27 PM
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Just keep on what you are doing...the more often you can do that the better too.

I like to use round pen and lunge line exercises to help a horse gain endurance without 'interferance' from a rider.

"The ideal horseman has the courage of a lion, the patience of a saint, and the hands of a woman..."
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post #5 of 8 Old 11-16-2010, 10:42 AM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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Yeah when I first started riding him he really wanted to charge up even the slightest inclines. I have been making him walk up any sort of hill and he usually starts to sweat a little even after just trip up the hill (it is rather steep in some spots).

So I am guessing that unlike humans that jog to get exercise, taking him on long walking trail rides is better than letting him canter/trot most of the trail ride?

RH Queen O Anywhere "Sydney"
2009 Sugarbush draft
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post #6 of 8 Old 11-16-2010, 09:51 PM
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Since you're just getting him back into shape, I would suggest lots of walking, but it can't just be ambling along! It should be a forward, energetic walk with the energy coming from behind. I would probably do 30 minutes of walk, 5 minutes trot, 20 minutes walk, 5 minutes trot, then finish off with another 10 minutes of a good walk before letting him cool out. When he starts getting into better shape start increasing the trotting time and decreasing the walking time (slowly). Hills are always a good thing as well.

Right now my horse is finally getting back into good shape so we do trot sets. I'll take him out and do anywhere from 30-45 minutes of trotting up and down small hills and asking him to start to accept the contact and lift his back. The hills help with that because he really has to come from behind. When I do a good day of trot sets I'll usually give him the next day off, check his legs, maybe hand walk him some, then resume my flatwork schedule the day after that.

A lot of horses really enjoy getting out of the arena for conditioning and will go at it with gusto. I know Willie really enjoys it and always comes back to his arena work with a much better mindset.

"Always be yourself. Unless you can be a unicorn. Then, always be a unicorn."
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post #7 of 8 Old 11-16-2010, 10:15 PM
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Wow, I just read Strange's post and realized there is a nice grassy hill a short easy ride from my arena. I knew hill work was a good idea, but never thought of going over there and doing reps! Thanks for helping me think of it!
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post #8 of 8 Old 11-16-2010, 10:24 PM
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LOL! No problem.

Across the road from where I am is a richy-rich neighborhood. They have a running path that allows horses so I use that a lot that goes between all the houses then out to this big field area that has small hills. Kids have been using them to dirtbike, but I go during the middle of the day when they're at school. Then there's another large area of land behind another neighborhood that has two pretty huge hills that I use near the end of our little session. Then he gets to keep up his nice, forward-moving trot until we get back out of the neighborhood.

"Always be yourself. Unless you can be a unicorn. Then, always be a unicorn."
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