Need Conditioning Schedule for 21yo gelding - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 04-01-2010, 02:08 AM Thread Starter
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Need Conditioning Schedule for 21yo gelding

Hey ya'll! I have a 21-yr old gaited Paso Fino gelding. I'm taking him to the fair this summer, maybe entering a halter class, and I'm touching up things like side-passing, backing, turning, and muscling. Can anyone provide me with a good schedule for conditioning my horse?

I ride him primarily Western, about every other day. Most of the time I just ride him in the back pastures for about an hour, cantering for a minute, fox trotting for a minute, doing a corto/fino for a few more. I repeat this for about an hour and then cool him off. He's usually only sweated up because of his separation anxiety with the mini mare. He won't go away from her, and I emailed a ton of trainers asking their opinions. Two got back to me with some good ideas, so I'll be trying those. He gets completely sweated up trying to go back to the barn and getting frustrated when I restrain him. If he wasn't constantly worried about the mare, he would barely be sweating at the end of these rides.

About once a week, I take him to the back 1000 acres of woods, meadows, and fields. I took a screenshot of my property (below this paragraph, sre for huge pic) and the meadows I ride in and showed in red my riding boundary limits, in purple the path I take on a typical ride starting from my property at far right) when I go for a ride in the back 1000. The orange plaid indicates the meadow I stay in for 30 minutes or so to gallop and canter around. So when I go for a ride I walk/fox trot him in the woods for about 15 minutes until we reach the farmer's fields. He lets me ride back there as long as I stay along the edge and don't trample is crops. I canter him, with Lulu the mini mare running free behind us, for about 10 minutes on and off (along edge of first two tan-colored fields on right). Then we reach the first grassy meadow (park-owned), where I'll canter him down the stretch to where his friends are....2 senior horses who REALLY need to be put on some better feed--they are sooo thin. I let him say hi, they nuzzle over the fence, then we walk/trot back the way we came, this time turning the other way and entering the next grassy meadow. I usually just let him graze here and typically spend a lot of time cantering, but the last couple of rides I've discovered that Arthur is super fast and can flat-out gallop at great speed when he has room to speed up and slow down. I'd never asked him for top speed before, and it felt great the other day to gallop him. Never have before. So instead of working him hard in the first grassy pasture, I worked him in the second grassy pasture and spent a good 30 minutes galloping him, letting him eat a bite of grass, galloping him some more, etcetera. Then we walk home and I cool him out.

Since I've been galloping him yesterday and today, he comes home pretty sweaty. I don't think I'm working him too hard because whenever I asked him for a simple fox trot, he was chomping at the bit (quite literally) asking to go faster. His mini mare always runs with us, and he loooovvvveeessss racing her. She'll buck and try to kick him, he'll dodge around her to find an opening and get ahead.....when he gallops he leaves her in the dust and she basically gives up:). Poor little thing haha.

Here's a video of very crappy quality, taken from my phone. You have to wait until 0:28 for us to come into the picure as my mom didn't listen and tried to film us galloping from the shadow with my crappy phone camera and it didn't work out too well. It doesn't show his speed at all because I was already slowing him down but it's alright. Just thought I'd post it.(ignore my sister and dogs haha) :

Wow okay I rambled a lot about stuff that wasn't even relevant to the situation but try to dig through my rambling to find sense in it and help me come up with a conditioning schedule:). Thanks guys!

Last edited by equiniphile; 04-01-2010 at 02:14 AM.
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post #2 of 4 Old 04-01-2010, 09:52 AM
Join Date: Mar 2009
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Long rides and interval training (stretches of trot/canter/gallop/walk) are all good ways to get him fit. And it looks like if he can ride for an hour or two and not be tired out then he is pretty fit. If you can find some hills to work on that would be best to get him "halter" fit but since you're showing at the local level as long as he is well conditioned, clean and shiny and healthy and sound you should do fine, as long as his conformation is decent. Are you truly doing halter or are you doing showmanship or maybe both?

Also, I would STRONGLY URGE you to NOT let your horse graze with a bit in his mouth. Especially in between gallops or vigorous exercise. It is hard for them to chew correctly with the bit in and it can get stuck causing choke, bloating, sometimes colic and other bad things. And it only takes one time out of 100 for them to get sick/injured from eating with a bit in. You don't want a hot, sweaty horse with it's heart rate up to be eating anyways. Eating while dehydrated and the heart rate is up is not a good idea as it can cause cramping and digestive upset in general. A horse in a bitless bridle/hackamore going for a leisurely hack can sometimes be allowed to graze during the ride but I don't suggest it for training and behavior purposes.
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post #3 of 4 Old 04-01-2010, 01:29 PM
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Walk, walk, walk, and more walking. Maybe add some brief trotting in for muscle building and a little bit of fun, but you can't go wrong with walking. No stress on the joints, no stress on your butt, and especially if he has separation issues, you'll want to make him go as sloooow as possible on his way back home.
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post #4 of 4 Old 04-01-2010, 02:31 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks. I try telling my mom that he shouldn't graze with the bit in his mouth, but she says "he's working hard for you, he deserves a bit to eat" and ugh it's like, no he does NOT deserve to risk choking because you think he deserves a bite to eat. Anyway....

He does have decent conformation; not the best and not the stocky-frame-and-pin-legs they love in halter classes, but you think he's okay to go to the local county level on halter, and/or showmanship? It's all kind of vague what I'll be doing with him exactly at fair but in any case, conditioning will be good for him. My mom's boyfriend has his excercise rider work his TB's with 20-minute hard canters every day to keep them in shape for polo. One of his mares is 24 years old and still does great with it, so I don't think something close to that is too much to expect of my horse eventually.....that being said, his horses are built for speed and mine for other things.

I always walk him on the way back to the barn. That's one thing about his speed I won't compromise on. I know of someone my mom knew who let her horse canter on the way back to the barn and he took the bit in his teeth, ran into the barn, she hit herself on the low beams, and was paralyzed from the neck down. Safety first, IMO.

We actually have some hills in the second grassy meadow. They're semi-steep, nothing too dangerous. Should I be cantering or fox trotting him up those for best muscling?

And about the you mean walking will help build muscle for better endurance, or were you referring to on the way home?

I didn't want to run him too hard yesterday because he'd just gotten his feet trimmed, so I kind of took it easy with slow cantering.

I have a question about gaited horses.....does fox trotting and cortos/largos/finos take up as much energy and help build muscle as well as regular trotting does?

Here's a before picture from this summer....btw, do you guys think he's a little tubby there in the winter picture? I think so but my mom won't let me feed him any less grain because we had a lot of trouble putting sttress-induced weight on him when he was freaking out over the mare being in proximity to the stallion ever since we bred her. Anyway, here's a few before pictures:

last summer, a little less than one year ago:

this winter after being mostly idle:

Hopefully I'll have some good after shots by Fair. from these pics, do you think he would be a competitor and have a chance at winning a 4-H halter class once he has some better muscling?

Last edited by equiniphile; 04-01-2010 at 02:35 PM.
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