Thursday, October 1, 2009

Conditioning

Right now, as much as anything Moon is in serious need of conditioning. A lot of horses can stay pretty correct in how they move as long as they are in good body weight. Not too fat that it makes it difficult for them too move or be agile. And not too trim, where they might loose strength.

Moon is at a great body weight...
He looks fit, but full. Too bad pictures are so deceiving.

In reality, Moon is a horse who is naturally prone to want to drag himself along with his frontend rather than push off from the hindquarter. So it doesn't take very long for a lot of his hindquarter strength to dissipate if he is not rode regularly and specifically conditioned to use his hindquarters. Hence his propensity to drop his shoulders in his turns and flip out his hindquarters like he did in his last run.

One thing, besides regular riding that I think Moon is in need of is a chiropractic adjustment. So I am on the hunt again for one of those. Hopefully, going to some barrel racings and talking to some of the locals that this time I will be able to find one who comes with recommendations.

Since there is limited time to bring his condition level up, I am focusing more on walking exercise, a bit of trotting and limited loping. Too many times I have seen people overwork their horses with only a few days before competition and the result is usually a sore and pissy horse. I don't want Moon to ever start dreading running the barrels by doing that to him.

I can't imagine having to walk endless circles in the arena. Both of us would be bored stiff in less than 30 minutes.

Luckily for me, right across the road are several large fields-corn, grass and alfalfa. Everything is irrigated in this area, so they are all surrounded by irrigation access roads. That's where I'm spending my walking time...

I finally took the time to drive up north and just three miles away are the Adobe Mounds...
Tens of Thousands of acres of wide open land, rolling hills and deep ravines. I can ride all the way to those mountains if I want too.

Perfect! Now that's the kind of land that is ideal for conditioning a horse without overworking them. I can lope a few circles out there, go up and down hills and walk forever. I'll be able to exercise both Moon and Frosty at the same time by riding one and ponying the other. Frosty could certainly use the open miles too. Besides the fact that he is seriously tubby right now.

I've been doing a lot of reading and have been talking to my mom about the specific conditioning requirements of a barrel horse. It's a lot different working with a horse that has reached Moon's level than it is with a greenie. Those greenie's you work more on patterning. Competitive horses it's less about the pattern and more about condition. New realm for me! But I'll explain more in another post. I'm still formulating it all.;)

11 comments:

Carroll Farm said...

you will have to keep us in the loop on your findings. that is exactly what we need with our horses. they are not greenies, but need the conditioning. :)

cdncowgirl said...

Sounds like you've got great areas to ride!
I've always heard that hill work & trotting are very good for conditioning horses. And if those roads are safe enough (footing & traffic) they look like a pretty good place to breeze your ponies.
Trotting is good exercise but because barrel horses need to go flat out for a short time its good to remember to give them a place to just R-U-N. Also the muscles work differently at slower speeds than at higher speeds (something about long muscle fibres vs short muscle fibres if I remember correctly)

Vaquerogirl said...

Wow, you can ride there? If we had that much open space to ride, with no bicyclists, baby strollers, joggers, joggers with baby strollers and dogs, It would be like heaven! Just like where you are right now!
Boy I wish I was there to walk with you-on Desi of course!

Paint Girl said...

That looks like one awesome place to ride! And condition!
When we go trail riding, I like to ride a lot of hills. We pretty much only walk on trail rides, but we ride from 2-5 hours. I think Brandy was in the best shape she has ever been in this year.
Moon looks really good!!

City girl turned Country Girl said...

Sounds like you'll have him whipped into shape in no time!! It's funny that you mentioned needing an Equine Chiropractor, because that is exactly what we are looking for!!

Leah Fry said...

What a wonderful place to ride! Being so wide open, you can just GO, and not have to worry about bears or other horse-eating critters jumping out of the trees.

You're right, looks are deceiving. Moon looks good.

Mrs Mom said...

*sigh* I so want to ride with you out there.....

We used to call it "LSD"- Long, Slow, Distance- for the majority of our training and rehab. A nice, long walk with big long strides does more for a horse than folks realize. Moon is going to be in wicked good shape before you know it out there! ;)

He's looking gooood girl. And so is that barn! Wow...

Andrea said...

Moon is looking good!! And your plan sounds great! I sure wish we lived closer and you could help me with Ozzie. Those access roads and that wide open land look wonderful for riding! How cool to find areas like that to ride in!!

And thanks for the incite into the barrel world!! You have really helped me with all your blog posts!! And thanks for the advice you gave me on my blog!! :)

Danielle Michelle said...

I love conditioning horses - something about seeing them a certain way and then getting an end result!

I ride the ditches here - loose sand - works great!

Christina said...

Wow what beautiful country you live in. Those roads would be great for conditioning. I read somewhere that walking really is the best exercise it uses the muscles individually. Good luck!

Laura said...

Sounds like you are ready to get that boy in good shape! Good thing he doesn't read your blog! lol

I am totally jealous about all of the fields and the bajillions of acres of mountains to ride on! That just makes me drool... :-)

Moon and frosty are lucky to have you taking such care with their conditioning - so many people just don't know or care about that stuff.