How often and how long should a horse be ridden? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 31 Old 02-11-2016, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry, perhaps I didn’t express myself clearly. I’m not worried we are over-using Harley or that we could ever tire him out! I’m more concerned that we’re not giving him enough of a workout on our rides. He is almost never sweaty. But then again, he has tremendous endurance (like most Arabs). I’ve seen the other horses in the paddock chase him until they’re all soaking wet and dripping in sweat but he’s still fresh as a daisy, looking over his shoulder taunting them.

I guess what I was looking for was a recommendation for a minimum # of riding time and hours. I understand that it depends on what we do. I’d say it’s 80-95% trotting. Very little cantering, the odd jump now and then, and walking to warm up/cool down.

I’d like him to be fit, but I definitely don’t want him to have more energy. He already has plenty for what we need him to do. I guess I just feel guilty for not riding him more than 3-5 times a week for 30-45 minutes each time. Also, we are confined to an arena because of the snow we now have. Trails are not safe currently, because of a layer of ice covered in a couple of feet of snow.
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post #12 of 31 Old 02-11-2016, 09:04 PM
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.i donít want him to have more energy. He already has plenty for what we need him to do.
You can't have one without the other. Humans that work out will attest to that.

If that is Harley in your first post, he looks like he has gained weight since you bought him:(

He needs exercised as much as possible but not to the point of sweating him up or exhaustion. He needs to burn those calories off.

As others have already commented, everything depends on the individual horse's stamina, age, overall health.

For example, my 22 year old TWH has gained about 40 lbs since the loss of my two senior horses. That is because he won't cover this entire 23 acres by himself.

But he is still in condition to:

1. Take a slow hack around our country block that is ten miles.
2. Or go the 1.8 miles down hill to the end of my road and, with any sort of luck, be able to stay in his running walk for about 1/3rd of that 1.8 miles uphill.

The best way to build lung power and strength is hill work. Just like human athletes, start out easy.

But the bottom line is don't expect conditioning without having more energy. They are synonymous no matter the critter or human:)
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I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #13 of 31 Old 02-11-2016, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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Point taken walkinthewalk. Maybe energy isn't the right word. I don't necessarily want him to be more forward than he is now, but I hear what you're saying.

As for his weight, I don't see it, but maybe I'm being willfully blind... I keep measuring his girth every couple of weeks though, and it has stayed almost exactly the same (only a few lbs up and down each time I measure). Here are two pictures so you can tell me if I'm wrong and that he really does need to shed a few pounds. I mean, I don't doubt that he could slim up a bit, but I'm not convinced he's fatter now than when we got him. Keep in mind he has a very thick winter coat. Look at the fuzz around his head - it looks thicker now, but he certainly hasn't gained any fat on his head.

The first pic is a couple of weeks after we got him in October and the second is a couple of weeks ago. I tried to find pictures where you can see his full body and he's in a similar position.
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post #14 of 31 Old 02-11-2016, 10:40 PM
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His butt looks thicker in the first pic on this thread. He doesn't look that heavy in the motion picture (the last one).

It's a good thing, anytime a horse can come out of winter without gaining or losing excessive weight.

At least you have an arena to keep working the winter. Harley will have a good head start on Spring Fever
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I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #15 of 31 Old 02-11-2016, 11:06 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by walkinthewalk View Post
His butt looks thicker in the first pic on this thread. He doesn't look that heavy in the motion picture (the last one).

It's a good thing, anytime a horse can come out of winter without gaining or losing excessive weight.

At least you have an arena to keep working the winter. Harley will have a good head start on Spring Fever
Yeah, well he and I could both stand to shave a little off our butts!

But I don't think he's gained a lot, I just think he's lost muscle mass. I rode him for a solid hour tonight and will go lunge him tomorrow so I can canter him a little.
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post #16 of 31 Old 02-11-2016, 11:09 PM
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Wink

I would say that sounds about good, 3 to 5 times a week. A few hours. Yeah. Sorry kinda of topic what breed is he?

Keep calm and ride on.
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post #17 of 31 Old 02-12-2016, 08:21 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Cowgirlupyup View Post
I would say that sounds about good, 3 to 5 times a week. A few hours. Yeah. Sorry kinda of topic what breed is he?
He's an Arab Cowgirlupyup. A small one at 14.2hh. Shedding like crazy at the moment!
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post #18 of 31 Old 02-12-2016, 01:58 PM
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He needs to do the sort of work that makes him 'use himself' correctly rather than work that is aimed at trying to wear him out - his weight look slightly over what it should be but that could be the winter coat but he's lacking muscle in the right places
Temperament wise I'm thinking that the more you work him, fitter he gets, the livelier he's going to get because that's the sort of Arabian he is. Its a bit like a racehorse - the harder you work them the faster they go from A to B, work doesn't slow them down or steady them up.
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post #19 of 31 Old 02-12-2016, 02:35 PM
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If I am riding a horse in the winter time and lucky enough to have an arena I don't mind working them hard but because of the colder weather I will take more walking breaks to keep them from getting too sweaty.
I will also do a lot of transitions and lots of direction changes ( serpentines, loops, 1/4 line leg yields, spirals) as this often keeps them listening to me because they don't know what happens next plus it's more interesting for both of us.
During the walking breaks you can do some flexing to the left and right, some lengthened walk and some shoulder fore to make it interesting. Also try walking up the 1/4 straight, I find that can be challenging sometimes.
Another one I like is trot along the long side from K to H and count your strides then when you have the count, try to do it in one less stride, (lengthen enough to have one less stride but no change in rhythm) then try to do it in one more stride (shorten enough to have one more stride but no change in rhythm)
I think that riding hard is ok, just don't get them too sweaty and they should be alright and if Harley is not getting sweaty then he can handle the work load. Just remember that inside arenas often have softer footing and heavier going which is more work for the horse.
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post #20 of 31 Old 02-12-2016, 08:57 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Woodhaven View Post
If I am riding a horse in the winter time and lucky enough to have an arena I don't mind working them hard but because of the colder weather I will take more walking breaks to keep them from getting too sweaty.
I will also do a lot of transitions and lots of direction changes ( serpentines, loops, 1/4 line leg yields, spirals) as this often keeps them listening to me because they don't know what happens next plus it's more interesting for both of us.
During the walking breaks you can do some flexing to the left and right, some lengthened walk and some shoulder fore to make it interesting. Also try walking up the 1/4 straight, I find that can be challenging sometimes.
Another one I like is trot along the long side from K to H and count your strides then when you have the count, try to do it in one less stride, (lengthen enough to have one less stride but no change in rhythm) then try to do it in one more stride (shorten enough to have one more stride but no change in rhythm)
I think that riding hard is ok, just don't get them too sweaty and they should be alright and if Harley is not getting sweaty then he can handle the work load. Just remember that inside arenas often have softer footing and heavier going which is more work for the horse.
Thanks for the great ideas for indoor work! I honestly never thought in a million years that I'd enjoy riding indoors. But by the time we got Harley moved to this barn, the ground was frozen and the snow was flying and I'm not confident enough in the trails around the barn to ride on them when I can't see the footing. I took him out a couple of times and he slipped several times on the ice under the snow so I guess we're riding indoors until spring. Next winter I hope to be familiar enough with the trails in the area to be able to ride them consistently.

Meantime, I am working on my riding skills which are terribly rusty. We have a coach coming in once a week and I try to ride him at least a couple of times a week outside that and sometimes my daughter does too, but he almost never breaks a sweat.

I was going to lunge him tonight to get him to canter a little (coach says he needs it), but it's -23 right now (for you american folks, that's about -9 F). When I went to the barn, he was already so cozy in his stall, wearing his blanket and was chomping his hay eagerly so I decided not to lunge him after all. I'd hate for him to get sick after working out hard then being cold all night... maybe I'm just babying him, but if the BO had blankets on all the horses, that means she feels it's cold for them since they're NEVER blanketed at night. So I just hung out with him instead and trimmed his fetlocks a bit. The hair is getting so long that ice forms on it and Harley tends to get rain rot so I've been wanting to trim them for a while.

Do you ride your horses when it's this cold? I mean, I figure he could have walked without any issues, but I don't think a strenuous ride would be a great idea for him. We've had an exceptionally mild winter here so these types of temperatures are a bit of a shock to the system.
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