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[RC] Conditioning question - Jennifer Thompson

Was wondering if some pro's out there could give me some
advice on how best to go about conditioning my new gelding
that I bought three months ago.

He will be 9 years old in April.  He is a big bodied, 15.1
hh arab.  He was formerly used mostly as a pleasure/trail
horse, but was used for novice 3-day eventing last year,
before I bought him.

When I brought him home three months ago, he was pretty
chubby and fairly out of shape from having several months
off and being out on pasture.  He did okay on the flat, but
huffed and puffed terribly when doing hills.

He is now able to easily handle 4-5 miles of very hilly
terrain, trot/walk and some canter/gallop mixed in.  This is
on the trails I have right out the gate from where he is
boarded.  To do more miles, I will have to loop around and
repeat trails.  I have taken him on several 10-12 mile rides
away from home, although these rides had a lot of walking.
He could have easily gone much farther, IMO.

I live in L.A. 3 days a week (Tue through Thur), and go home
to Santa Barbara (where I keep him) for four days (Fri
through Mon).

The trails that I have immediate access to, without
trailering, are extremely hilly - very steep fire roads with
a few narrow more technical trails.  There are a few flatter
areas, but not many.  I think the hills are to our
advantage.  We trot or gallop up, walk down.   I usually
don't trot downhill.

Given that I only have Fri, Sat, Sun, and Mon to ride him,
how should I best use those four days for training?  The
three days that I am gone, he is turned out on either a flat
one-acre area, or a six-acre hillside, with other horses.  I
know this leaves a 3-day gap in his training, but hopefully
the turnout will help.

I was thinking Friday - 4-5 miles easy-to medium ride in the
hills.  Saturday or Sunday, a longer ride (10 or 15 miles or
maybe longer if I can swing it) with more of a mixture of
flat and hills, doing more trotting and loping, and then on
Monday, another shorter ride in the hills, similar to
Friday's ride.

Should I change this to one shorter ride (Friday - since he
would have been off work for three days) and then two longer
rides between Sat and Mon?  I don't know if riding him all
four days would be good or not....?

I'm only shooting for LD's this year.  Hopefully will do
50's next year.

Thanks for any guidance!

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