ridecamp@endurance.net: Re: [endurance] speed downhill

Re: [endurance] speed downhill

Joe Long (jlong@HiWAAY.net)
Sat, 2 Sep 1995 12:39:44 -500

The amount and speed of downhill conditioning must be decided with
care but, IMO, should not be neglected. Anything you are going to
ask your horse to do during competition you should include in your
conditioning program. After all, the whole point of conditioning is
to stress the horse's biological systems so as to make them
stronger. The key is to do your downhill training in such a way as
to build the horse up rather than break him down.

I can't give any magic formula but only advise you to start your
downhill training slowly at first, then add speed and distance a
little at a time. Don't overdo it! At any sign of lameness, back off.

This principle applies to concussion, too. I learned from Matthew
Mackay-Smith the value of riding "down the yellow line" of a paved
road to condition for concussion. Literally! As I wanted to train
Kahlil to stay on the shoulder of paved roads during rides (and not
try to encroach onto the pavement), when I used the pavement for
conditioning I wanted to be sure he understood the difference. So,
I would ride down the very center of the road. Understand, I don't
suggest using this technique on a busy highway!

If you use this technique, remember to start slowly for short
distances, and build up speed and distance on the asphalt gradually.
I never went much more than a half-mile at a time, and never faster
than a trot ( I will not run a horse on pavement even in

(Another "war story" follows)

I won't gallop downill even in competition, either, but once I was
very glad I'd conditioned downhill. I was approaching the finish of
a 100 mile ride and had been unable to shake a very good rider. The
last mile was up a hill, then down the other side, then a short flat
stretch to the finish line. The other horse was a fast sprinter
(and I was unwilling to race down the hill) so I knew my only chance
to prevail was to lose that horse going *up* the hill. As we
started up I urged Kahlil to "full race mode," a belly-down gallop
as fast as he could run. Didn't work; the other horse stayed right
on our butt. At the top I conceded the race and tried to pull up.
Nothing doing! I had a runaway, and Kahlil ran *down* the other
side at full speed! As soon as we hit the flat the other horse
passed us and took first place.

Kahlil was not injured by the experience -- in part, I believe, due
to his downhill conditioning.


Joe Long Rainbow Connection Arabians PC/LAN Manager home of Kahlil Khai Calhoun Community College AERC Hall of Fame horse jlong@hiwaay.net 11,475 miles completed