How did you all condition your horses for eventing?
I've heard of some methods such as hill work or focusing only on dressage at first. What did you do to get your horse ready for the physical demands of eventing? Also, while I'm at it, what did you do to get yourself conditioned as well?
I can't repeat this enough - hacking. Hacking is the most important factor to conditionin for the tough demands of eventing. Hack, hack, hack, hack, hack again and then when you're done hacking, hack some more.
Miles, miles, miles. Just the same way, an Endurance Rider would condition their mounts. It is about strengthening those lungs and that heart. Top physical condition takes a long time to achieve, and you have to do it correctly to ensure your horse develops properly and conditions properly - but it can be done.
When you ride, you have to make sure your horse is engaged, working at all times *even at the walk*, back is lifted up into your seat, tracking up and using his/her body correctly.
Lots of intravals, transitions. Always start out at a good working walk - engaged, opened up, moving under themselves, back lifted up into seat and moving forward. I always start my walk work at the beginning, and start out at about 20 mintues. Then I let him relax, and then I ask again.
I ride for about an hour, at walk work. I gradually up it from walk work to trot work, back to walk, back to trot. More walk time than trot. Then I increase the trot time to be longer than the walk time.
Only go at the pace your horse can go. If your horse is telling you, that the trot work is too long, then listen.
Then gradually transition to canter. Same story as the walk work and the trot work.
That, is how you condition for Eventing. When I prepare my horse for the eventing season, I start out by hacking 5, 6 days a week. As he starts to come around, I start introducing arena work once a week out of those days, and then when he starts coming around even more, I then start to include a jumping lesson.
Monday - hack. Tuesday - hack. Wednesday - dressage work. Thursday - hack. Friday - jumping lesson. Saturday and Sunday - off. Just examples.
For me - I don't do much for exercise. I work 80 hours a pay period as a Certified Nurses Assistant in a Nursing Home. I get plenty of work out's there - but when I ride, I do a lot of work in the 2 point position. Where I can work on staying up, off of my horses back, solidifying my position and my lower leg. Transitioning from a 3 point, to a 2 point to a full seat. You can add that in your hacking regime.
with an event horse you need to strengthen 3 different areas, these are - muscles, heart and lungs, and tendons and ligaments. each area should be focused on for 1 month, once you move to the next month you keep working on what you were doing before, just change your focus. i usually do jumping once or twice a week, flat/dressage everyday, hack 2-4 days a week depending on the horse/level. my horses usually have a day off in the week.
muscles- lots of dressage work to build the correct muscling as well as walking and trotting hill work [no cantering hills as that is not as good for building muscle]
heart and lungs- this means building their endurance. long trot sets as well as canter sets. keep in mind how long your xc course is going to be, your horse needs to be able to canter that long [or longer] with out stopping. start will short canters and work up. while im doing this i practice a lot of 2pt as well as galloping position and sit one up two posting.
tendons and ligaments- a lot of people dont think about tendons and ligaments, but you dont want your horse to tear something out on xc. you can strengthen the tendons and ligaments by doing road work [walking on pavement] start very slow at about 1-2 minutes if your horse isnt used to it. you cant trot and canter if you wish, but walking is just fine too.
My trainer calls it road hacking. Going out on the roads and walking. She says it strengthens their tendons and ligaments. She take horse's out on "road hacks" once a week.
it can if you do it a lot when they arent fit for it. and yes it is concussion on there fit, kind of a win some lose some kind of thing. that is why you start out walking for a very short time. like i said you dont ever have to go faster than a walk. i personally do because my horses also fox hunt and we gallop flat out down roads sometimes so they do need to be fit to go faster on roads.
You've been given some great advice. Excel, my eventer, hates arena work. He absolutely loathes it. So, I work him for about 5 minutes in the arena, just to warm him up, and then we head out in the woods and go on a hack. Right now, I've been building him up after a few months off, so we do mostly trotting with me in two-point, for his and my exercise. We have great trails around here with lots of hills that are perfect for strengthening his muscles and endurance.
To make arena work more interesting for him, I sometimes set up a small cross-rail and hop over it once or twice before heading out on our hacks. In the woods, there's plenty of logs to practice with, but I make sure not to overdo it. It's harder with the Thoroughbreds to judge when you've been trotting too long or when they need to slow down and take a break, because they're bred to love exercise and being active, so it's something you have to learn to judge.
Daily, correct riding, trot sets, and canter sets. I've never in my life heard of road hacks. I'll probably inquire with my coach about them, but I doubt I'll ever do them. Ace has the most ridiculously clean, tight legs I've ever seen on a former *** horse. Never a soft tissue injury in his life *knock on wood*. When conditioning a horse, especially an unfit one, you have to take it slowly. You need to know when you can push for a little more and when enough is enough. I wouldn't start canter sets until you start getting ready to go training. Start with two sets of 4, then three sets of four, then 4-5-4, then 4-5-5, then 5-5-5, etc. etc. I do canter sets once a week with Ace. Before the canter sets we do a 20 minute trot with him working from behind, over his back, and stretching into the bridle, then at the end of the canters we do another 5 minutes of trot. Right now this is all in an arena because the footing out on our hack is far too hard for this type of work. We're going to be up to 7-7-7 canters by the time we (hopefully) move up to prelim.
I recently got into eventing with my barefoot mare and I didn't change too much about my excersize routine. I already mostly bring her out hacking on the roads and jumped a little in the fields since i didn't have a real ring. One thing that i would suggest doing in trot sets. In trot sets you usually go out on the road and trot for a certain amount of time- lets say two minutes then you walk for two minutes trot for two minutes etc........ i think you get the point. as for myself i didn't change anything. I already run and farm work keeps me fit.
I start with dressage and flat work. I condition for cross country on a half mile sand track. The same one we use to jog our race horses
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