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Re: ponying & conditioning

The short answer is that any aerobic exercise (not just excitement from
watching a plastic tarp blow their way) is going to add to conditioning, and
the generally accepted aerobic zone for an average condition horse is maybe
110-150 beats per minute.

If you wanted to get a little more precise in calories expended and what
not, there's an algebraic formula on my website at

By goofing around with the numbers a little bit, you'll be able to figure
out what the comparative energy costs are between ridden versus nonridden.
It's not all that much.  For example, for a 1000-lb horse and 160-lb rider
to do fifty miles in eight hours takes an average of about 40 Mcals of
energy, just for the exercise alone, without a rider.  If you ponied the
horse the same distance, without a rider, the energy cost only drops by
about 5 Mcal, about the same energy as that contained in about three pounds
of corn.  In other words, about 85% of the energy expended is to move the
horse, not the rider.  So even ponying is pretty good exercise.

Having said that, however, keep in mind that a ponied horse is going to take
the path of least resistance and isn't necessarily going to engage and drive
from the hindend properly, may not stretch his topline as he should, change
leads on a regular basis and all that other stuff a rider is supposed to
keep him honest about.  Also realize that adding a rider does funny things
to the downward forces the bones and tendons and feet have to carry and
compensate for, and it won't be quite the same as during ponying.  So I
certainly wouldn't use it as the sole method of conditioning, but oh yeah,
you better believe it'll add some conditioning.

Good luck.

Susan G
----- Original Message -----
From: Michelle Fink <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2000 11:32 AM
Subject: RC: ponying & conditioning

> Hi -
> Anyone know how ponying compares to riding for conditioning effects?  I am
> ponying my ex-racehorse quite a bit, and wondered how much conditioning
> gets out of it, if any.
> Each week we are doing one day of dressage (1 hour of walking, trotting,
> cavaletti), one long ride in sandy, hilly terrain, and then 2 days of
> ponying walk/trot intervals (5 miles per day, working up to 10-12).  Is
> sufficient to get her ready for an LD by spring?
> Happy trails -
> Michelle
> (Colorado)
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