Your way to condition a horse... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 03-08-2009, 02:32 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Norman, Oklahoma
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Your way to condition a horse...

I would love to have everyone's opinions on how they get their horse ready to show or just to get them into shape. I love learning new ways to do different things with my horse so he doesn't get bored!

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post #2 of 11 Old 03-08-2009, 04:54 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Jul 2008
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Lots of riding. Start off with shorter easier rides and work our way up to longer and more challenging ones. Hills are great for getting a horse in shape & thankfully we have a lot of them here in Kentucky.

All I pay my psychiatrist is cost of feed and hay, and he'll listen to me any day!

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post #3 of 11 Old 03-08-2009, 04:59 PM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Missouri
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If you are getting your horse into running shape, timed long trots are good. Start at only a few minutes and over the course of a few weeks gradually increase the time. This builds the horses stamina and lung capacity. Trail rides are good and also if you have access to a safe place where you can swim your horse (like a vets office with a swim run for horses) swimming is great for conditioning a horse. It works their muscles and they get a great workout without straining their ligaments and tendons so much.
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post #4 of 11 Old 03-08-2009, 05:34 PM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Eventing Country
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This is where I am going to be pretty soon - back at the start due to my TB being off all winter due to corrective shoeing.

Anyways, we are Eventers - and since he is rolly polly pudgy *pats belly* as am I.....we'll be getting back into our regime soon.

I start out with hacks. No point in doing arena work right now. Hacking is a great way to build stamina, strengthen their hearts and get back into shape.

I start out with a 1/2 to 1 hour hour trail ride. Walk with a tad bit of trotting for the frist while.

Then I incorporate 20 minutes of walk, to 5 minutes of trot. Back to 10 minutes of walk, to 5 minutes of trot. I will go out for an hour.

I do this for 1 1/2 - 2 weeks.

Then we gradually increase or time and our trot incraments. To canter work. Walk 20 minutes, trot 5. Walk 5, trot 10. Walk 10, canter 5.

Hill work is great as well.

Hacking is a great way to get your horses out, enjoy the surroundings and the trails. Gets their minds fresh and out of the sand box.
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post #5 of 11 Old 03-08-2009, 07:55 PM
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Walking and a loooooot of it. Trails are nice if you have them because they get the horse's mind in gear, and offer different terrains. Basically ditto MI, for once :P
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post #6 of 11 Old 03-08-2009, 11:50 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Norman, Oklahoma
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Wow, those are great guys :)
I'm thinking about asking my trainer if I can run around the cross country field(obviously without jumping) because we don't have any trails at the barn where I ride. My fellow Jr. Team member took her horse out there yesterday and just ran around without the BO/trainer, so I guess it would be okay as long as I asked and didn't jump(she doesn't let people use the XC jumps without her there for liability reasons, and I totally understand). I REALLY want to go on a trail ride with Pyro but our trailer was too small(we sold it but used the money to paid overdue bills instead of on a new trailer :/) and my trainer charges ridiculous amounts of money to trailer you somewhere. Sorry, I'm rambling xD
Do any of you do lounge work? I remember reading some sort of condition packet my trainer gave me for Rio and it said that you shouldn't even ride for the first few weeks, just lounge.

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post #7 of 11 Old 03-09-2009, 12:04 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
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The main thing with conditioning the horse is making sure that you are not over facing the cartilage and joint systems; comparatively the musculature, bone structures and cardiovascular system can become fit quite quickly.
This is why we need to keep the work in the first few weeks of conditioning very low impact. In lunging a horse, we don't have a feel for him and can sometimes push to hard and end up damaging something. Also, the circle in lunging is a lot of stress for a horse's joints that are not used to the work. This is why we either ride or hand walk the horse in as big of figures as possible, it is to reduce strain on the horse's joints.
Even my fit horse I sometimes take a few days or a week "off" from our regular training and just work for about an hour to an hour and a half on walking every day.
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post #8 of 11 Old 03-09-2009, 12:45 AM
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Shocker...I do similar to what MIEventer does ;)

Also doing primarily eventing, all my horses are cross trained except my jumper (who HATES trails....oh and we still do them but he hates them...) and the core theme to all of it is trot, trot and more trot. Trails are a great break from ring-work and keep the horses from getting bored, while introducing varying terrain that will help build the strength and conditioning of both bones and ligaments/tendons, key for any horse that is asked to perform with a level of athleticism. I also very deepness and types of footing, we ride in mud, slop, dry, hard packed, groomed, and hills and what not as well.

And more trot work. TONS of trot work. Better canter and better jumps and better turns and well, all out better RIDING comes from better trot work. By varying the pace and always maintaining a solid rhythm, the horses will build good muscle tone. From there the canter and jumping falls into place. Will work some at lead changes and picking up the lead I ask for (too many horses imo will pick up the "correct" lead out of habit rather than queue), and working on some lead changes, and also, almost as important as trot, adding in grid work OF!

YAY spring!

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post #9 of 11 Old 03-09-2009, 07:47 AM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Higgins, TX. YeeHaw!!
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I just do lots of riding for long periods. Mostly walk with some trot and lope thrown in. Lots of country and hill riding, up and down caprocks and along creek beds. When they are in a little better shape, I ride what I call the square. It is about 15 mile round trip on dirt roads and bar ditches.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog:
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post #10 of 11 Old 03-09-2009, 09:05 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Washington State
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Hmm, lots of people have talked about doing trot, but my vet has trot is the highest-impact gait... so it doesn't really make a ton of sense for avoiding too much strain on the horse's muscles, joints, etc. My vet went on to say that a little bit of canter was usually best to get a horse loosened up and limber for more trot work. It sort of makes sense to me, but I don't know.

Going by what my vet and others have said, I'd take my horse out on a fairly long walking ride up and down as many hills as possible. About midway through the ride I'd ask for a pretty chill, relaxed canter somewhere pretty straight and level. I wouldn't canter for more than 2-3 minutes max at least to start, and then spend the rest of the time walking out around some more slopes.
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