Friday, April 13, 2012

The Basics: Horsie Conditioning


Okay so I wrote this a while back for a friend of mine who's horse was going from the winter softie to summer show competitor. The horse was an Arabian, and the conditioning worked for her. So I decided to share it on my blog! As long as you have some horse sense, take it slow and watch your horse, it will work for you as well. Just remember: Everything cannot be done in a day!!

Always remember to warm-up and cool down. Warm-ups should be no more than 10-15 minutes long and will improve the efficiency of the muscles working. Walking and then trotting for warm-up and trotting then walking for cool down.

You will want to work your way up to working at least 4-5 times a week. It is said that it is important to give your horse a day off every third or fourth day. It seems that its up to you or her, though.
Work on the big things first and then work on the little things.
Once your horse is comfortable at this pace, you’ll want to further “stress” her tissues to gain conditioning improvements. Either increase the duration of the workout or the speed, but never both at the same time.  Even if she’s up for it, don’t push her too hard.  It will work against you.

Work on your communication skills on the ground in the round pen or enclosed arena.  That means lungeing, long lining, and groundwork. Your horse should be able to walk, trot, and canter quietly and safely around you equally in each direction. Of course if she wants to have fun, don’t dismiss it!! LoL! Notice if she is showing any discomfort in movement and if her whole body and muscles are moving in unison as she goes around you (such as not being able to stretch her head and neck out and down).

Start out: Minimum of 30 minutes a session building up slowly to longer sessions, varying each ride

Walking, walking, walking
Little bit of trotting
Walking, walking, walking
Try serpentines and circles at walk
Check balance at walk (you and her)
Bring in short bursts of trotting (check her listening skills and your communication skills)
Walk her over ground poles. Let her stretch her back and neck
Do some patterns at the walk. Watch your posture!

Next: Add in more trot work and a bit of canter (this doesn’t have to be all at once)
When she and you are okay with that, add in:
Walk/trot sets
Ground poles
Trail work – walk/trot sets

Moving forward/ adding in (this doesn’t have to be all at once):
Walk/ Trot/ Canter transitions
More ground pole work

Moving forward/ adding in (this doesn’t have to be all at once):
Impulsion (developed through performing up/down transitions in short frames, such as walk, trot, walk, canter, walk, trot, walk, canter, each for a distance of 3 to 7 strides in variances.  Can be developed by the use of cavalletti's in variances of height and location.), half halts (walk, half halt, walk, walk, trot, walk, half halt..etc as you see fit)

Moving forward/ adding in (this doesn’t have to be all at once):
Extended walk, Slow walk, Trotting ground poles, slow trot, some cantering, lateral work (make sure she has impulsion), don’t forget those transitions!
Trail work – walk/trot sets (if you can find them…hills, or deep ground/sand)
Moving forward/ adding in
Extended trot, slow canter, straight and serpentine, cantering circles, walk/trot ground poles
Trail work – walk/ trot sets

Moving forward/ adding in (this doesn’t have to be all at once):
Extended canter, cantering circles and serpentine. (simple lead change at x)
Let's canter them there ground poles....hehe
Trail work- lets add in some cantering
Short gallops, followed by a return to a normal working canter, build wind and endurance.

Moving forward/ adding in (this doesn’t have to be all at once):
Collection!!
Start at trot, then walk, then canter

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