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[RC] Hill Conditioning - April

I would like some opinions on conditioning for hill work. My horse is
moderately fit for 50 miler rides, but most of our conditioning work
is flat work. I have started working him on a local hill that is
short, but a nice hill.

I give him a good 20 minute warm-up, then trot him up the hill, out
along the flat for a few seconds, then turn and go downhill at a walk.
Each uphill portion (including a bit of flat at the top and bottom) is
1/3 mile. (So, of course, is each downhill portion.) I do
uphill/downhill twice, then rest for 2 minutes then do uphill/downhill
twice more.

My goal is to get him to do the uphill/downhill sequence 10 times with
only a 2 minute rest after 5. So I'm starting with 4 times and want to
work my way up.

My question is how long do I do the 4x workout before advancing to a 6x workout?

Tanna can trot the entire hill (he takes a little convincing that he
can) and he's huffing and puffing at the top of the hill. Should I
keep working him at the 4x up the hill until he doesn't huff as much
or until he doesn't ask to slow down to a walk? He hits about 204 bpm
heart rate just after the steepest part of the hill, then on the rest
of the way up it's not as steep and his heart rate drops to 165 by the
time we reach the top. 30 seconds of trot later he's down to 130 and
continues to drop as we go down hill. He's huffing at the top of the
hill, but his breathing slows within 30 seconds. Just wondering how
long to do this particular workout before adding on more repetitions.

He's still quite fresh after these workouts as warm up to cool down is
only a 60-70 minute workout. He's nowhere close to being tired after
we're done with the hill work.

My goal is to build strength and cardio fitness, so I don't want to
push too hard based on HR and cause injury.

Thanks for your insight.

Nashville, TN

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