TWH for endurance in West Australia
I have just brought to Western Australia the very first TWH to train and use for endurance. I am originally from Oregon, so it is nice to have a little America out in the bush with me. I usually ride Arabs, but since I ride HWT I decided to see if I could get a TWH over here and see how we would do. He is almost 5, a gelding, and stands about 16.1.
I have never trained a TWH for endurance before, so any tips everyone has would be helpful. I just got him, and the only thing he did before was trail riding. So I have deceided the first 90 days I am going to take him slow. On Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays I will take him out on LSD rides of 2-2 1/2 hours. The off days on Tuesdays and Thursdays and some Saturdays if he looks keen, I will work him at home for an hour or so in the round yard, and in the arena working on transitions etc. Sundays will be a rest day.
After 90 days I am going to work in some hill work. What does everyone think about this program to start him off?
the trot out at the vet checks can kill you even if the horse is sound. Vets will say he isnt. They arnt used to seeing gaited horses. You have to run faster just shy of slow canter speed to get them into a smooth gait. Or they will get stuck between two gaits, or be doing a gait in the front and a trot in the bag and look all discombumalated.
Also it is a trot out and back, so do that trot out (or gait) STOP, slowly turn, and gait back,dont gait in a tight circle, walkers arnt built for that and will look lame.
Speaking from experience walkers just dont pulse down like Arabians. I have been hitting a wall on this and need to either get out of the sport of face reality and get an Arabian that isnt completely batpoo crazy.
Re Trot out
You are correct about the trot out. The Vets over here have never seen a TWH before, so I am hoping to educate them at his first training ride, otherwise I will have to go back to Arabs :).
Does your Walker have a nice canter? If so, canter where you can. It's less tiring than a gait. Try to avoid gaiting quickly when you could just canter. The gait isn't as energy efficient as the trot, so be warned. Some horses really can't do it all day. Whether your gaited will do well in endurance is hit or miss. Some of them pulse down fine (rarely like Arabs though), but some just... Don't.
Trot outs are a killer! Does your horse pace or trot in hand? If your horse is inclined to trot, trot him fast at trot outs. The faster the trot, the less jumbled it is and the quicker they break into it from a walk. Practice your trot outs. Energy is important. Your horse needs to react and take off quickly to get a clean trot.
Some gaited horses always head bob at the trot. So you'll have to pace in hand.
If he paces (or gaits), pace slowly. Generally (depends a lot on the horse) a slow, "collected" pace with a lot of energy looks better than a strung out pace. Practice. Get a buggy whip and tap his hind quarters if he gets lazy. It's kind of like putting a horse on the bit. You want energy from his hindquarters to collect in the halter. If that makes sense. Not pulling on you or running ahead, but you need to feel it.
Re Trotting out
He has a lot of energy in his running walk. He does the running walk in hand very well and quite quick. Before his first 40km, I am going to try and get the aussie vets on board as well.
Good info re cantor vs gaiting on the trail. I know it is going to be really hot and miss with him, but he has so much energy on the trail, I thought I would give my Arab a rest and take my TWH into the novice horse catorgory and see how he goes....especially he is such a nice comfortable ride as well :)
Can't wait to hear about your adventures with the walker!! I think LSD is the key to building the base of any new endurance horse, regardless of the gaits it uses.
Thanks for that tip. I will keep it in mind if the vets give me any grief. The LSD is going well with the big guy, he really steps out, averaging 12 km/hr...I am really just giving him his head on the LSD and letting him step out at his own pace to start with.
Here is a pic of my big guy :)
I have worked with TWH my whole life and from my breed history lessons, their gait is what is they are meant to do on the trail not a canter. I am just learning about competitive endurance riding but I have owned and ridden a well conditioned TWH that can do 50 miles in a day without sweating, except for under the blanket, in southern August heat and humidity. Don't know how that would com-pair to Australia thought. I think that the breed is extremely well suited to the sport.
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