How to make him fit for long rides? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 12-22-2008, 03:25 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Sweden - the land of carrots and apples
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How to make him fit for long rides?


I know quite a lot about how horses work, how their muscles are, bone structure and some about behaviour as well. At least I have the info in the back of my head after school times :P
BUT... when it comes to training in reality and how it works when you actually do it, rather than reading a book, I'm quite inexperienced :P At least when it comes to get the shape and condition up from ''scratch'', a few tips about how I should maintain it too probably wouldn't hurt either :) So I'm asking you!

I have a standardbred, never raced but supposed to have been trained for it. He has been ridden very irregulary the last year, mostly/only in walk, and the past three months he has learnt to be ridden (he's ''green broke'' according to the dictionary :P Still working on canter, and he has been under a rider 5 days a week, short sessions and occasionally a few longer rides in the woods) he has been worked mainly in walk and in rack, and we've just started to sniff on the canter. Unless we're in a really high speed, the most we get is a very comfortable canter-rack, but it has made him muscles build in the hindquarters at least :P Anyway, as you can see, he's not really in any great shape :)

We're working on getting him to slow down in his walk as well, at least in the woods. He uses so much energy and probably wears unnecessarily much on his body when he just stomps away like a stressed moose or something :P But we're getting there, he was great today and slowed down quite easily after racking and galloping :) I don't trot him at the moment, his rack is stronger and he works better in it, so trot will have to wait a while. I'm trying to define the rack too.

Anyway,.. enough about that..
I want him to get a good condition for long rides, and with both rack and canter, but I don't want to do it too fast and risk injuries on tendons and joints, caused by them not being strengthened enough to keep up with his spirit and will. :)

Can you give me any advice? Anything I should avoid? How to train him? How much to train him?

I get him home in january and I can't wait!

Always keep your head up, but be careful to keep your nose at a friendly level.

Zab is offline  
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post #2 of 20 Old 12-22-2008, 03:48 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
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AEC Client Education Library - 30 Day Back to Work Schedule

There's a pretty good schedule there.
Basically, when conditioning a horse we are making their muscles and bones stronger, increasing their cardiovascular capacity and conditioning the joints/cartilidge for more work. A horse's musculature and cardiovascular systems will become fit relatively quickly, while the joints and cartilidge take a long time to get fit for work. But we want to keep all three systems developing at about the same pace. This is why low impact, low stress work is what is going to get the horse fitter, better.
When I re-conditioned my mare I started out with a half hour of walk a day for a week, an hour of walk for two weeks, in week 4 I added 10 minutes of trot to the hour of walk, in week 5 I did 15 minutes of trot, by week 7-8 I was doing 45 minutes-1 hour of walk 15-20 minutes trot and 5-10 minutes of canter and then gradually increased the amount of trot and canter and decreased the amount of walk while increasing the level of difficulty of exercises I was doing.
The link I posted is also a good conditioning system, I know a few vets that recommend it. I would maybe make the sessions a little longer and replace the jumping with "dressage work" like a dressage test or something. Hill work is also really good for getting a horse fit. The main thing that I highly highy suggest is do a lot of good quality walk.

Last edited by ~*~anebel~*~; 12-22-2008 at 03:51 PM. Reason: I'm retarded :P
~*~anebel~*~ is offline  
post #3 of 20 Old 12-22-2008, 04:08 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Sweden - the land of carrots and apples
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Thanks, I'll look at the link! :)
As it is now, the walk itself is far from quality and at times it gets quite stressful for him (not in the arena but outside), I have to take that in concideration as well, at least untill he has learnt to walk and relax :)

Since he has been working much in walk (and dressage in walk) for about one and a half month, and added rack to that the last month, I think we're ready for a little canter now x) But I'll remember to keep it short, especially since his sessions havn't been long this far. I've only cantered him perhaps 1-2 minutes untill now. I think I'll add more walk rather than rack or canter when I get him home, the first month. I'm doing some small jumps with him too (jumping logs about 20-40cm high in a quite difficult terrain that makes him keep it slow and naturally collected) now. Just 0-3 jumps per ride. We tried the first time a few days ago :)

Always keep your head up, but be careful to keep your nose at a friendly level.

Zab is offline  
post #4 of 20 Old 12-23-2008, 01:13 AM
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Thats a prettty good link. Ill def be using that toward the end of winter

equineangel91 is offline  
post #5 of 20 Old 12-23-2008, 05:49 AM
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I haven't really had anyhing to do th training standy's..but I would've thought that the earlier you get them out of the racking and into the trotting, the easier it will be to maintain the consistency of the trot.

But yeah, listen to anebel she's a legend :)
jeddah31 is offline  
post #6 of 20 Old 12-23-2008, 06:42 AM Thread Starter
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But I like the racking and much prefer that to the trot.
Plus, he can trot, it just takes more effort for both of us to get the trot nice. And with no need for it, I don't feel I should spend that effort on the trot right now.

Always keep your head up, but be careful to keep your nose at a friendly level.

Zab is offline  
post #7 of 20 Old 12-23-2008, 06:51 AM
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i have been involved with standies my whole life but i only have one at the moment. standies, like tb's need regular, consistent but slow training. mostly you will find they rush as they feel very unbalanced in the canter and can easily become disunited.

standies are used to short workouts of about 20-30 minutes a day. the most important thing to remember is getting a solid trot before worrying about the canter. getting a standie to trot rather than pace can be a long and unforgiving process but its worth it in the end. 20m circles with trot poles or trot poles in general are a great way for teaching them to trot rather than pace. that and patience!!! :)

standies, like tb's are also used to being worked 6 days a week so a 20-30 minute workout 5 days a week would probably be best. work at first with a lot of trot/pace as mentioned and work your way up. walk and trot work can also be enough to start conditioning your horse.

i would back off though if he is rushing around and wait until he is completely balanced in the TROT before working on his canter. theres no rush and rushing training with a standie will only lead to frustration and continued rushing on his part

good luck with him

edited to add - a horse finds it harder to canter from a pace than a trot. a balanced trot is essential for a nice canter ;)

"I whisper but my horse doesnt listen...So I yell!!...He still doesnt listen"

jazzyrider is offline  
post #8 of 20 Old 12-23-2008, 10:19 AM Thread Starter
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As I said, I like his rack (and it's not a pace even tho it is a bit pacey at times) and I'm not going to train it away.
He has his balance in it and lifts his back and carries with it.

I can make him trot rather easily, but why should I put energy on that when I want him to rack?

He is used to 20-30 minutes DRESSAGE work per day ;) He hasn't seen a track for at least two years and I dunno if he ever has.

He finds his canter/gallop more easily from the rack than from trot; in trot he just switches to pace and has to rush into the gallop.
In rack we've worked on getting a canter beat into it by encouraging that when he offers it, and now he sometims get a really soft, carrying, rather slow canter-rack (on cue); it's just like a real canter except he has no suspension (is that the right word? No phace in the gait where all hooves are off the ground at the same time) and at least once he has ended up with a real not rushed allop/canter from the canter-rack. Concidering we've only worked with it for a few weeks, I say it's good progress.

His rack is strong, and he is balanced in it. Of course being green broke, he still rushes it at times, but he's learning to collect and take it slow and balanced too, and he's getting very good at it. He can rack at walk speed and racing speed and listens well to the riders seat. The faster he goes the more pacey he gets, still, but at slow and medium speed he keeps a fairly good rack. And he doesn't rush it.

The only thing he really rushes, is the walk.

I'm sorry if I sound annoyed, your answer is surely good for the regular standie, but I feel that you havn't read a word of what I've written, or you just don't respect what I've said and believe.

Always keep your head up, but be careful to keep your nose at a friendly level.

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post #9 of 20 Old 12-23-2008, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Sweden - the land of carrots and apples
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Just because I feel like I have to defend or explain his gaits I made a short film.
Tho it probably shows nothing since the only clip I have of him canter-racking was taken in a really dark arena and when I tried to lighten it up it got weird. The clip has both versions and he's at the best just when he's leaving the light and a few steps forward. I added a short clip and some still pictures of him racking too. But he's not at his best there, far from, it's just the only ones I have..:/ He's best in the woods. And concidering just how green he is, it's not that weird and I feel it's ok that it's far fro perfect at this point.. Hopefully I can show better film clips of him later on.

Not that I understand why I should have to defend or explain myself as soon as I ask or talk about my horse. :/

Anyway, I asked for help on how to get him in a good shape without wearing on his joints. I do know quite a lot about how muscle and bone works, but theory isn't the same as reality, and I havn't actually used my knowledge in this matter before, so I asked advice and experience from you. I've gotten a few good answers and thanks for that :) but wether or not to rack or trot is my own decision.

Always keep your head up, but be careful to keep your nose at a friendly level.

Zab is offline  
post #10 of 20 Old 12-23-2008, 02:29 PM
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That link is pretty ridiculous, actually. That's like I can go from being a couch potato to running 5k in 30 days, comfortably. lol

Just take your rides slow, and ask for a little bit more. Don't ride him for 20 minutes a day, and then decide to take him out for an hour. Don't work him to the point where he can't breathe, but do occasionally have 'hard' workout days where you'll work him for 5-6 minutes hard, then rest, then 5-6 minutes hard, rest, etc. Hard doesn't mean 'whole body sweated up', it just means he's breathing pretty good and would really appreciate a nice walk to rest up. ;) Always make sure to have rest days even if they're days where you work on getting him to relax at the walk, because rest days is when muscle is built (why that 30-day exercise regime is so ridiculous). Increase the amount of time in a week or two; he'll let you know. (like when five minutes of your 'hard' work doesn't make him so tired... work him a little longer)
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