Sunday, September 30, 2012

Set Up for Success: Conditioning

I have learned that I am repeatedly setting my horses up for failure by not conditioning them well enough.   

This was true in taking Hudson out to hunter paces a few years ago.  I thought I had conditioned her through a couple of months of trail rides on hills, but in the actual event, she became very tired before we were done with the approximately two hours of walk, trot and canter with a few little fences along the way.

Boyd on Remington, who resisted fitness work, Boyd said.
Recently, Starlight simply stopped cantering during a horse show in deep footing, even though I had worked her on trails and in a home-made grass arena for much of the summer. 

After listening to the conditioning routine that Boyd Martin puts on his horses, I can easily see how insufficient my conditioning efforts were.  I listened to him describe his new routine during a recent episode of the Eventing Radio Show (link here).   

Granted, Boyd rides top-level event horses, but even a low-level event horse has to be able to canter for eight or ten minutes straight and jump, not to mention the other two phases, so I don’t think the conditioning routines for high or low level should be all that different. 

Boyd said his horses do fitness work every second day.  His fitness work includes a “show jumping canter” for eight to ten minutes, or cantering up a hill two or three times at a fast clip, or a 25-minute trot.   

My horses might keel over if I tried any of these activities now, but I’m hoping, by next spring, with a lot of regular road rides this winter, they will be fit enough to compete.

1 comment:

  1. Any time you need/want a riding partner to help condition the horses, I would be more than glad to help.