Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Limited Knowledge

So Laura @ Littlekeebler asked for advice on conditioning...

I'm afraid it's a field I have relatively limited knowledge on. To be honest, I haven't thought much on or practiced much in the way of a genuine conditioning program.

The last couple of years, it has become something that I have tried to learn more about and last fall it was definitely something I felt I needed to work on with Moon.

For the first time in a long time, I have a solidly broke, no issues, competitive horse.

The first thing that came to my mind, when I finally got that good run on Moon was...

Now what?

I have spent the majority of my equestrian years starting colts and training or retraining horses for competition. When they got to a certain level, they were usually off to their own home or to a new home. The thrill of horses for me has always been bringing horses from nothing to something. When they got good or as good as they were going to get, it was time to move them on.

Now, I find myself as one of those people who is going to go on with one, so I have to learn what it takes to keep a competitive horse competitive and maybe even help them improve even more.

However, I'm a couple of months away from having to really focus on a competitive conditioning program. Right now, like everyone else who is coming out of winter months, I simply have soft, out-of-condition horses that I need to work slowly back into a semblance of shape.

Thankfully, Frosty(the buckskin) is the only one who is ridiculous. Moon actually looks pretty darn good. I swear that horse is still growing. He's 12 this year and looks incredible. Talk about a late bloomer huh?

I suspect all of the horses I plan on bringing from SD, except for long, tall and naturally lean VooDoo, are at least as thick as Frosty is at the moment.

So what to do with fat, soft horses?

You all share what you do, while I try to put my very simple thoughts into more words than, "Ride 'em". ;-)


Pony Girl said...

Um, yes, a soft horse is an understatement, just take a look in my pasture, LOL! And right now my horse is a bit lame. Probably arthritis, I'm having the vet out on Friday. So conditioning will be interesting. But I agree with you, ride 'em! Curious to pop back over and see what else others contribute.
Are you going to get a chance to go to the Scottsdale Arabian show? Paint Girl mentioned that you might try to stop by! :)

fernvalley01 said...

I don't know , your "ride em" comment pretty much covers it simple, succinct ,and really other than the varied degrees of the workout it is what you need to do .

Paige said...

That is how I would sum it up! Ride em

cdncowgirl said...

Well 'ride em' is my basic plan. The more detailed version is to start off slow and build up. Lots of walking at first with a bit of trotting and loping.
As they gain some wind I plan to extend the trotting and loping.
Next step, when the ground is good, is to ask for sprints with real speed... this particular step is important for my horses because I need them to have gas and have it NOW for barrels.

But you know what gait we'll be doing most of our conditioning in? Trot. Long trot. LOTS of long trotting. It is, from what I've been taught, a great way to get your horse in shape.

cdncowgirl said...

PG - thought I'd ask this here since you said you'd be popping back to see what others said. Re MB & lameness... do you give him any supplements for his arthritis?

Laura said...

I know "ride 'em" is the basis for conditioning. Just like people - eat less, move more... - I was just wondering if anyone had any more detailed advice...

I'm stuck riding circles in an arena for the next couple of months and even if the weather is nice enough to ride outside, I'm still stuck in a ring just slightly larger than 20x40. There isn't anywhere to ride out and do long trots until maybe July.

I guess even though I sometimes ride 4x/week, I rarely see much of a change in Rusty's shape... I guess I need to ride longer or something. He is old too, so I'm guessing it is a bit harder to gain nice muscle in an almost 20yr old horse...

Mrs Mom said...

Long Slow Distance was always my favorite way.

Laura- you've got an interesting case with limited room. You might want to check out more backing, side passing, and things that move different muscle groups for Rusty too. ie: backing (in hand first) lifts amd raises the back and belly. Side passing uses that newly created belly lift to attain proper leg placement. Maybe getting him working laterally some off your legs will help build some tone for him.

Trot what you can, but be careful with an older horse in a smaller area. Trot some, walk some. Toss in some other moves, and trot some more. (Kinda the same thing I do with horses who are rehabbing from booboos.)

Give Rusty a mint and smooch from me!!

Reluctant Cowboy said...

Must be a common theme for us northern types :). Posted what I do to get the ponies in shape. You might give it read and let me know what you think.


Danielle Michelle said...

Good lunging, good riding...I always like to 'ease' my horses back into shape after the winter - until we can go for nice long rides.

Long trotting is also a favorite for me, especially if you can find a nice sandy ditch to work in! Talk about 'legging up' when you can get them in shin deep sand!

Honestly though? I think that as long as you are doing something with your horse that's active - that's really the biggest part in getting them back in shape.

Mikey said...

I'm with you, lol, RIDE EM!
But it is a good question. I like that Danielle Michelle brought up long trotting, especially in the sand. Brings on some nice muscling, but must be done slowly.

Once Upon an Equine said...

The only thing in good condition on my horses right now is their jaws.

Love the picture in your header, beautiful colors and nice windmill.

Anonymous said...

good to hear your horses have wintered well! Mine just turned 31yo AQHA who Ive owned for 24 years has wintered better than I could have hoped for :) The Buckskins looking good! I am fighting mud right now, OK winter has been a rough one. I did finally get a new horse, a 6yo tobiano. First one Ive had as my VERY own since I bought the old guy when he wasnt so old. My new horse is broke broke broke, no suprises. My horse finishing days are behind me now. Ive went back to work part-time so I want to spend the rest in the saddle, Missed y'all blogging when I was gone. Happy things are good for y'all!

BG from Ramblings from the reservation (wouldnt let me link)

~The South Dakota Cowgirl~ said...

I like to do a 4-5 mile workout per day. It's harder to do that when you have limited space, but it boils down to about a 10 minute walk, then 7 minutes of long-trotting each way (for a total of 14 minutes) then about 4.5 to 5 minutes of a hand-gallop or fast lope both directions(for a total of 9 to 10 minutes). Then a cool down (walk) until the horse is back to normal respiration rates. If it takes him longer than a couple minutes to get back to normal, then you have an out of shape horse. I typically start with about 3.5 minutes trotting and go from there based on how my horse feels.