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hill work and mud

Conditioning question for all the experienced endurance riders out

I'm just starting to do LSD conditioning on my 4YO filly. She just
turned 4 in Sept. She's been working under saddle 3 to 4 times a week
for a duration that matches her attention span (a half hour when we
started, working towards 2 hours) since the beginning of July. When the
weather's warm, she's turned out most of 24/7 on 8 acres with some
gentle "swells" (not quite hills). She's in at night now that the
weather's turning.

She's what I would consider green broke. The trails are literally along
the back of the property where I board, so we've been doing trails since
August. I do one or two sessions a week in the ring, the rest on trails.
So at least two times a week I'm out on trails.

Which leads me to my question. I'm very concerned about protecting her
legs since this filly doesn't have a CLUE how to protect herself. I
always work with splint boots or sports medicine boots because of this.
We're working at a walk mostly because I don't know the trails well
enough to know the downhill and uphill sections (lots of them) and I do
know better than to let her trot downhill.

But is it OK to let her trot uphill? There are lots of gullies with tree
roots and when I let her pick her speed, sometimes she wants to trot
uphill out of the gullies. It seems like she needs the momentum to get
to the top comfortably.

She's in OK condition. Not ready for a 15 mile novice CTR (hoping by
next fall to enter her in the one that takes place in our backyard) by
any means, but well balanced and starting to use her hind end. Starting
to see muscle definition. No cardiovascular conditioning to speak of.
(huff, puff, this is hard!)

Also, any suggestions to prevent her from jumping the mud? Any long
stretch of mud is no problem. She resigns herself to slogging through
it. Anything under 5 feet wide she tries to jump (and succeeds). I get
off and lead her across with my 8' lead rope that's attached to my
halter bridle and then tail (BTW, how does one *not* learn to tail? ;-))
up the other side because I'm afraid my extra weight and loss of balance
might cause her to injure those precious legs.

This filly has been free-jumping since she was a foal. (Maybe she's in
the wrong sport? She obviously doesn't know she's 3/4 Arab.) I have high
hopes for this sensible girl if I can just protect those legs.

Deanna (wannabe one of the "oldbies")
and Salina (give me a good reason not to jump or run up these hills)

(sorry so long)

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