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[RC] Building a Base (Somewhat long) - Stagg_Newman

(belated reply on this thread - trying to catch up from vacation and
business travel - could not resist putting in my two cents worth on this

Suggest building a base is a 3 part program that ideally is done over 3 or
more years.

1. Training
2. Conditioning
3.  Continual Assessment

The key word to remember is PATIENCE.

1.  Training is teaching the horse all of the skills needed for endurance
This includes:
      -basics of equitation, i.e.going in proper frame or rhythm, balance,
alignment.  The horse that does this save energy.
       (ideally I would do one equitation lesson per week on a horse
except during vacations for the horse - note that
       proper equitation or dressage work also builds the horse's
      -responsiveness to aids
      -learning to listen to rider (not that I have mastered this one -
believe at the Pan Ams last year, Jayel Super did not really
       start listening to me until after 20 miles!)
     -pacing on trail
     -crossing streams, carrying self properly uphill and downhill
    -learning to cope with excitement of a ride camp, the start, etc.

2.  Conditioning.  This is building up the bone, tendons, ligaments,
cardiovascular systems, cooling systems, etc.
Many of the good books such as Lew Hollander's Endurance Riding:  From
Beginning to Winning have good programs.
Here are a some ideas
  -2 years of long slow distance rides about once a week building up from
shorter to longer distance of course
 (start with mainly walking and then building up to mainly trotting with
limiting cantoring)
 -one other shorter ride per week time permitting plus the equitation
lesson (for total of at most 3 days riding per week)
 -ideally do a combination of different terrains;  sand for example is
great for building tendons and ligaments but must be used with care
 -hills are great for muscular development
 -the hardest thing to condition is the structural system, particular the
tendons and ligaments (this take years)
 -the serious cardiovascular condition should be done after the first
couple of years (here mountain work is great)
 -the conditioning program needs to take into account what exercise the
horses are getting on their own daily.
 (our horses live in about a 8 acres rolling field; Maggie Prices' horses
had the advantage of 100+ acres of serious hills,
 a horse at a boarding stable with only a small paddock will need far more
 -note that a 3 year program does not mean that competition cannot be part
of the program.  Drubin did 875 miles of
 competition as a 6 year old, most of it ECTRA competitive trail riding at
a trot but also a (relatively slow) 100.  I now
bring horses a long more carefully.  I was fortunate with Drubin because
he was so sturdy and he had spent his
first 4 years running up and down Maggie Price's hills so he was
conditioned before he was ever under saddle)
-Plenty of rest.  Tendons and ligaments probably need about at least week
to recover from a new level of stress.
-And I strongly believe in pulling shoes and giving horse a couple of
months of rest (with perhaps just light riding
and equitation in the winter) and again for a month in the summer.

3.  Continual Assessment.
Ideally (admittedly I fall short of this ideal) one needs to continually
assess where the horse is and then adjust.
So my ideal recommendation is to do a mini-vet check at the conclusion of
any serious conditioning work
  -check pulse recovery
  -go over legs
  -do a trot out for soundness
 -check for back soreness and other muscle soreness

Note that the little signs of lameness can be key.  We have learned,  that
if one does not pay attention to the little signs one may get enforced rest
for a long people.  For example Drubin's son Bahrain as a 6 year old was
showing a very slight front end problem that he seemed to quickly get over.
But it
would occasionally reoccur.  Then he tore a check ligament and got a year
off.  Fortunately he came back to successfully do 100s.

So when in doubt, rest and be PATIENT.

Thoughts please.

Stagg Newman

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