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Re: RC: Re: Simple question, maybe not so simple answer.

Really agree with what Sue said about dressage work.  We do that regularly,
with our young horses.

Note that it's useful to make a distinction between training, teaching a
horse skills,
and conditioning, building up a horses body and cardiovascular system.  For
the latter,
I believe that many of riders do too much conditioning and do not give our
horses enough rest so that their bodies can recover.  Much of this I learned
from people like Dr. Mathew McKay Smith, AERC Hall of Fame, and Dr. Jeanie
Waldron, one of the best endurance riders and vets in the country (many FEI
medals, 4 OD wins).

However I should say that our horses are turned out in about a 10 acres
pasture with a good slope
to it.  So they get a exercise on their own every day.

Also we try to select young horses who grow up running in large, preferably
hilly pastures so
that they come naturally preconditioned.

Horse kept in small paddocks will need more conditioning as will horses who
are not
naturally endurance types (all our horses are Airheads, aka Arabs).

Also I believe competitive rides are a great way to build up young horses. 
Drubin as a 6 year old was the ECTRA high milage horse with 875 miles.   I
believe this foundation of long slow distance
is one reason why he can still top 10 one-day 100s at the age of 18.   We
like to aim for a 3-day 100 CTR in the fall of for our 5 year olds.


>From: "Susan Garlinghouse" <>
>To: "Angie Nathe" <>, <>
>Subject: RC:  Re: Simple question, maybe not so simple answer.
>Date: Tue, Jun 19, 2001, 7:37 PM

>> I work full time 8am - 5pm.   I also have my own business I run.  In my
>> time I am training and conditioning my 4 yr old for 25 mile CTR's.  Here
>> my dilema.  Is it better for me to ride him 5 days a week 1 1/2 -2 hours
>> to ride on weekends for up to maybe 6 hours at a time?
>> Thanks for your help!
>> Angie N
>Well, keep in mind this opinion comes from an exercise physiology academic
>background, not as anyone who had campaigned dozens of high mileage horses.
>Between the two, I would definitely say 5-day routine is better, as
>consistent work is going to gain you the increased density in bone, soft
>tissue and muscle that you'll need for a long, sound career.  Riding on the
>weekends is definitely do-able, lots of successful riders do it that way,
>but that's usually a better option physiologically for a horse that already
>has a good, solid base on him.
>However, I'm leery about "conditioning" a four year old youngster (in my
>book) too hard.  You can certainly *ride* the horse five days a week, but be
>very careful about loading hard work onto those young legs day after day.
>Work out a plan of having different things to do each day, so that maybe two
>days a week, you work on bending and softening and working on moving off the
>leg, either in an arena or out, etc;  two days a week, you work on
>developing an easy, effortless, no-nonsense jog on down the road with
>extremely little cantering; and the fifth day, you can maybe work on things
>like mounting on the trail, going up and down hills in a balanced way,
>practicing eating and drinking, getting tied to trailers away from home,
>learning to behave in a group and either leaving or being left without
>getting stupid, or just developing a really nice, relaxed, consistent walk
>without getting worried about how far you went.  Whatever comes into your
>head to do that doesn't put a lot of strain on either muscle, bone or
>tendon.  And for now, when you come to poor footing like deep sand, very
>hard surfaces, mud, etc, WALK.
>You'll want to mix up your days so that the muscle group that was worked the
>day before has a good day or so to recover, compensate and develop before
>being asked to really work again.  If you keep doing the same thing day
>after day, you won't develop nearly as quickly or consistently and won't
>develop the "whole" horse as well.  I can't think of anything better for a
>young horse at this point in his career than some good dressage lessons, and
>that goes for you too, no matter how skilled a rider you are.
>A key point for you to keep in mind is that a 25 mile CTR is just not that
>difficult for a quality horse either aerobically or muscularly, assuming you
>don't do anything stupid like gallop wildly through it and then have to wait
>at the end for your minimum time to expire before you can walk in.  The best
>thing you can do for your horse at this point in his career is to totally
>forget about "conditioning" muscles or cardiovascular system.  Work on
>manners and maintaining an easy pace; work on eating and drinking well on
>the trail; responding to your cues and learning to tolerate whatever
>shenanigans you may choose to do out there.  Just have a good time, spend
>alot of your time just walking and relaxing and exercising the horse's mind
>(and yours) and you'll both do just fine and have a much brighter future for
>having taken your time this early in the game.
>Good luck and HAVE FUN.
>Susan G
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