Boy, you are going to get information from all over the board on this one. What I have found is that you just do the best that you can with what time you have. I personally think that 3/4 times a week is plenty for me. Anywhere from 1 to 2 hours at a time. If I can get out on the weekend and do a 3 hr + ride that is great. Sometimes it depends on the terrain you are riding too. A slow climb up and down a hill for 1 hour can probably be as beneficial as a fast 2 hr trot on level ground. I have friends that would probably say that isn't enough. It just depends on where your goals are for you and your horse. If you want to ride 100's, you need more. If you want to do LD that is probably sufficient.
Also when you start to compete, use your competition rides as a stepping stone to the next distance. If you do 2 LD fairly close together in good time, 1 month to 6 weeks, you could probably step up to a slow 50. Then shoot for a little bit faster 50. Etc....
I started this sport doing LD on a little quarter horse with a big heart. I asked my vet what I needed to do to ride a LD. He told me 5 miles 3X a week. So that is what I did. But get this, I wasn't comfortable venturing out too far as I was pretty new to riding. I lived on a 1 mile stretch of road and went up and down that road 5 times to get in my five miles 3X a week. Got real bored, and so did the horse. But was able to successfully compete in my first LD.
I have graduated to a different horse. I ride both from my house, and trailer to other locations to train. But given the fact that I have a full time job and sometimes like to do other things than ride. I still only train 3/4 times a week, 1 to 2 hours a ride, maybe 3+ hours on a weekend if I can. This year my mare and I did our first 2 day 100 and our first 75 very successfully. So what is enough? What ever you shoot for.
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