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Re: arena conditioning/Building strength/flexibility

I'm glad this thread came along, because after joining RC, I suddenly started thinking "holy cow I have unfit horses" and went all out with trail riding, avoiding arena work.  The result was not as I anticipated.  Toc's aerobic fitness didn't improve significantly, and nor did his pulse rate.  Now, I appreciate that what I was aiming for was a 25, and maybe a 50, and not a 100 mile ride or anything, but it still surprised me.
I also realised that MY riding fitness had suffered by spending more time on trail and less time on arena work.  My abdominal muscles had loosened, as had the muscles of my inner thigh and lower back, although my calf muscles did strengthen.
Now that my boss is playing Draconian Guard with me and insisting that I actually EARN my salary, I have less time to ride, and so am putting in an hour a day in the arena, and doing long slow trail rides on weekends, more as a loosening / chilling out kind of exercise.  I still believe that the horses are fit enough for a 25 (not sure about the 50) but they have improved in terms of balance, suppleness, lightness and, perhaps most importantly, obedience.
And my "spare tyre" has gone.
I'm sure that arena work to condition is NOT the answer for you guys who are doing SERIOUSLY long distance, but I no longer feel guilty about the exercise my horses are getting.
PS  Another EXCELLENT arena exercise to prepare your horse for a ride : have ten of your closest friends bring their horses over to use your arena, and then try to get your horse to concentrate without leaping out of the arena.

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