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 Caring and Owning Horses
 The Beginning Rider
 Excercise....
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horselvr0405
Beginning Rider



107 Posts

Posted - 03/04/2006 :  8:47:08 PM  Show Profile Send horselvr0405 a Private Message
Hello! I have a question regarding excercise. If ya'll dont ride everyday, and want to start riding more often, do you have a certain type of regimen to get your horses back in shape? I just pretty much trailride, but that sometimes includes long canters and such. My mare has been out of work for awhile--what is the best way to get her working again gradually? I just bought a lunge line today--I know how to use it--and feel comfortable with it--but, how long should I work her for starting out? Increase to? I just want to get her some muscle mass and in a better cardiovascular condition. Thanks!

"There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man."

Horses are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.



Hook
Trail Boss (Moderator)



Canada
6115 Posts

Posted - 03/05/2006 :  07:17:08 AM  Show Profile  Visit Hook's Homepage Send Hook a Private Message
I usually start out on the longe line with a few walk circles to get every thing loosened up. Then I will jog a few circles, progressing to a fast trot, I will continue the fast trot for about 5 to 10 minutes depending upon how the horse is holding up. ( stop early if horse starts to breath heavy or sweat) I then reverse directions and repeat.

Caution here, this is when the horse will show of excess energy and will be hardest to control) Once both sides are warmed up I ask for a canter and do a couple of rounds, again gauging the reaction of the horse. Stop after a couple of round, back into the trot and repeat. (If the energy is too high, do more work at the trot before asking for the lope or canter.) Then I repeat on the other side.

This usually takes about 15 minutes total at the start and I gradually increase the trotting and cantering time depending upon the horse but I usually try to increase the total time about 5 minutes a day.

After about two weeks of longing ( make sure you keep those circles as big as you can to minimize the leg strain on the horse)I start alternating the longing with riding and follow the sames regimen with added control / flexibility exercises.

By about the third week most of the conditioning will be riding and will probably be about an hour.

At this time, ground conditions willing, I start to add more speed and refresher courses in barrels and poles. A trail horse should be ready for some 1 or two hour trail rides as long as you alternate the gaits to not over extend your horse at the trot or canter. Should be easy to monitor by keeping an eye on the breathing and how much sweating occurs.

So , gradual start up without a rider, further gradual addition in time with rider (helps the rider to get accustomed to extra exercise as well), then progress to your task specific requirements while keeping your eye on how the horse and you are getting into shape.

Good luck, hope this helps a bit.

Hook(ed)......on Horses

"The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. " Author: Robert Louis Stevenson

Edited by - Hook on 03/05/2006 3:54:47 PM
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Red Hawk
Clinician



USA
5092 Posts

Posted - 03/05/2006 :  12:57:42 PM  Show Profile Send Red Hawk a Private Message
Good advice, Hook.

I'd just like to add that you can do a lot of flexing exercises from the ground with a halter & lead or using a bridle with a mild snaffle bit(such as an O-ring, D-ring, egg butt, etc.). The thing is not to overdo these kind of exercises or you will sore your horse in a hurry. I'd start with no more than 5 or 10 minutes at any one time and maybe do them only once a day.

Another thing you can do, if your horse is trained for it, is some ground driving. This would be great for an in between step from lunging to riding and can really help tone a horse up without him having to carry the weight of a rider. My horses are broke to drive, and I've put a few driving miles on them before riding as driving is much easier on a horse than riding is.

When you start trail riding, make your first few rides short(maybe about an hour or so) on level ground if possible. If not, maybe moderately rolling, but not big hills or strenuous climbs. Keep them at a walk until your horse is taking it easily with no excess sweating or hard breathing. Then gradually increase the length of your ride and do some trotting for short distances and maybe some small hills with gradual slopes. Next try some bigger hills and maybe trotting longer distances on the flat with a little cantering thrown in on the side.

In-other-words, just start gradual, feel your horse out, and keep an eye on how she's taking it. If you can learn how to check her heart rate(pulse) and resperation, you can tell exactly how she's doing once you start trail riding her and how much she can take. But I'd definitely do the toning up at home and from the ground before beginning to ride.

One last note: The older the horse, the longer it will take to get them back in shape. I'm discovering this to be true even for me. It seems like getting back in shape takes longer every spring as I get older. LOL!

"God forbid that I should go to any heaven in which there are no horses"
--Robert Browning

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
-- Author Unknown

Edited by - Red Hawk on 03/05/2006 1:00:03 PM
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horselvr0405
Beginning Rider



107 Posts

Posted - 03/05/2006 :  7:48:50 PM  Show Profile Send horselvr0405 a Private Message
Thanks you guys! Great advice on this forum as usual!
Looking forward to the regular riding weather!!!

"There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man."

Horses are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.



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