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 Post subject: Conditioning a Horse
PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 3:10 am 
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I thought I would open this topic as it is something I have been considering how to do in a natural way that would avoid pressure as much as possible. I'm thinking about this in relation mostly to Tam. He's not ridden much yet as it is not his favorite thing. He enjoys moving and playing on the ground, and I was thinking something like biking with him would be excellent, except that I don't have any place safe to do this with him. I'm not really in good enough shape to bike out on the pasture, and my only other alternative is the highway...and I'm NOT going there.

So I was thinking perhaps ponying from Cisco.

What I've thought of so far is this (and why I think I can't do it).

Free lunging. Too much pressure for Tam. He gets bored and then I would have to increase the pressure. Plus, I don't think endless circles around the arena would be all that much fun.

Lunging on line. Same as above only a smaller circle.

I do all the lateral work from the ground, and honestly, just playing, Tam can work up a little sweat. But none of it is really enough to take weight off him. This is primarily what I need to do.

This summer, I will be able to better control his intake of food as he will be in the fat paddock with Cisco and a couple other horses. But I would really like to work on building him up at the same time as we're working on reducing. Does that make sense?

So if anyone has any marvelous ideas on various ways I can do this so I don't bore him to death or push him more than I need/want to...please share!

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 Post subject: Re: Conditioning a Horse
PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 3:38 am 
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Hey Karen!

Yeah. I struggle with this one a lot cuz neither of my horses are able/ready to be ridden a lot, or at all! And Lucy lives on air <G>

If you can teach Tam to pony from Cisco, I think that would be great! I guess you could jsut start in the arena, heck that may be a great thing to do anyway, some sort of gamne with you riding Cisco and Tam following along??

I am thinking of evolving our woods walks into riding Jack with Lucy following?? Right now I am holding them back BIG time as they want to trot, etc. and I just can't keep up! And my friend Lyndsey is going to train her youngster to pony with her older mare this spring, and she wants me to help so I may have more ideas how to begin that then!

So my other favorite game on the trails is the recall games I play. You can do this in the pasture maybe?? Dump a small pile of treats or even hay? and them sneak away and call for the next pile! My guys really work up a sweat cuz the gallop to catch me, and we play it on the way back on our walks which is all UPHILL!! Kills me tho! It's a lot of walking!

And of course I love my target lunging, just bought a new fishing pole to make a new target stick!!

And then there's the snowmobile idea, and am thinking of getting a small ATV (or a bigger lawn tractor?) to ride the trails for the non-winter months. And of course there is Sue's motorbike idea!!!

Brenda

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 Post subject: Re: Conditioning a Horse
PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 3:48 am 

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Karen, I love the topic. I only have a small contribution at the moment. I have a lazy horse so had to give this some major thought. I found a way to make the "chasing the tiger" a much larger circle by using an extendable flag pole. It's about 17 feet long so I can run a very small circle while my horse does a very big one. I wish I could remember where I got it. I purchased it originally to train our whippet for lure coursing/racing. Suppliers for lurecoursing might have it available. I've also been wondering if a moterized setup similar to the kind that is used for lure coursing would work for a very fast "tiger". Dogs chase these at speeds up to almost 40 mph (about 65km/h) and the "bunny" is a plastic bag tied to a thin line. It might cost some money though, unless you know someone who could build something like this.
I've never had the opportunity to pony since I only have one horse but think it's wonderful if the horse you pony off of is really solid. The people I know who have done it have done it only with a Roping Saddle where they could dally around the horn once but also release quickly if necessary.
Looking forward to hearing more ideas that everyone has for this. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Conditioning a Horse
PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 4:12 am 
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I know that Tam can pony...last spring when Paul was here, we had a cart to play with and he hitched up his Friesian stallion. I went for a ride and ponied Tam...he did really good. I adore the idea of teaching him to chase an ATV, but I don't think the stable owners would want me to bomb around their pasture. Darn that would be fun though. :D

With riding and careful development, Cisco is really doing very well. He is building muscle he and even his withers have filled out a little. But Tam is not ready for a lot of riding. He's not old enough. I don't intend to do a lot at once, but a trot around the pasture behind (or along side) Cisco would be doable once the snow is gone. I would go out in the deep snow (as my friend said, it would be like non-stop cavaletti poles!) but there are rather large rocks scattered around out there and no way to know where they are/are not...so it's not possible until the ground is visible.

We do a lot of circles with the tiger, and Tam will circle on the lunge/cordeo with head up or down depending on my body language...so that is all good for him, but to do it almost endlessly would sour him I think. I can and will do some, and like I said, he will get a little sweat going.

I have one very long carriage whip that I use as a tiger for larger circles.

As I have never purposely conditioned a horse, I don't know much about it other than one should start small and work up, and one needs a very good cool-down regimen as well?

Maybe I should google a little too and see what I come up with.

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 Post subject: Re: Conditioning a Horse
PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 4:19 am 
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This is very interesting...far more conditioning than I would ever do. I am just looking for a better balance between calorie intake and energy expending work. So nothing like this article is talking about.

http://www.livestocktrail.uiuc.edu/hors ... tentID=650

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 Post subject: Re: Conditioning a Horse
PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 7:44 am 
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Hi Karen, not sure of you remember this old thread or if you can find anything useful in it?

How to build up condition in groundwork?

Oh, and I can understand that you don´t want to cycle on the highway. But you said that you were going for trailrides sometimes - can´t you cycle on those paths?


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 Post subject: Re: Conditioning a Horse
PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 9:06 pm 

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Karen,
I think that is a wonderful article. I'm so glad you found it. 8) I passed it on to a friend right away whose horse has major kidney damage and also Azoturia and tying up. I will read it very carefully several times and integrate it into our spring training. I've also thought that maybe it is a very good idea for us to go for long walks with halter and leadrope with only short periods of trotting at first that get longer as my own fitness and that of my horse gradually increase. The more walk-trot transitions there are the more the muscles will be strengthened and the better the balance for both of us. If trotting along the horse seems too strenuous even transitions within the walk would be a start. I will report about our progress of this in my diary. I'm definitely planning on limiting riding to the walk for at least several weeks once I have started.


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 Post subject: Re: Conditioning a Horse
PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 9:19 pm 
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Romy, the trails are more than I can handle on a bike. The path has fallen trees, etc. If it's clear, I could probably manage it!

I'm not in the best of shape though. I hope to remedy that some this year. I started biking with my dog last fall, and I plan to do that several days a week as soon as the ice is off the roads! That might strengthen me enough to try and tackle the trails at the farm.

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 Post subject: Re: Conditioning a Horse
PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 10:23 pm 
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Birgit wrote:
Karen,
I've also thought that maybe it is a very good idea for us to go for long walks with halter and leadrope with only short periods of trotting at first that get longer as my own fitness and that of my horse gradually increase. The more walk-trot transitions there are the more the muscles will be strengthened and the better the balance for both of us. If trotting along the horse seems too strenuous even transitions within the walk would be a start.


I absolutely agree! Our walks/trots this winter have been awesome for all of us!! Normally this time of year I'm in the worst shape!! But this year, along with my visits to the gym and fitness classes, we are really good going into spring!! And it is sooooo motivating mentally for me to walk with my horses and dogs, gives me energy that I didn't even know I had!!!

My plan now that my ring is clear is to alternate woods walking with ring work!

Before horses, I would go on what I called power hikes, where I would jog as far as I could and then walk, then jog, then walk, and so on. I was younger then but the concept is still good I think!

Brenda

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 Post subject: Re: Conditioning a Horse
PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 10:31 pm 
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Oooooh! That is an informative article!! I printed it out for study purposes!!

A friend of mine let me borrow a heart monitor and now I might dig it out and use it on our walks and ring work!!!

Brenda

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 Post subject: Re: Conditioning a Horse
PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:53 am 
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Great thread!! Something close to my heart.. and my thighs... :D How to keep horses fit, and stay fit enough myself to be able to do it without forcing them to lunge etc...

Quote:
Before horses, I would go on what I called power hikes, where I would jog as far as I could and then walk, then jog, then walk, and so on. I was younger then but the concept is still good I think!


I do this, but running is not so good for me, so often I power walk with Sunrise. At first it was a bit of a drag (literally! :green: ) because her walk was too slow, and her trot too fast.. but then I turned it into fun for her, with lots of praise and the occasional reinforcement, and taught her to be responsible for keeping the line loose at all times. That meant that she had to walk, trot, walk, trot, walk, trot, while I kept up the same "racing walk" pace. At first I had to cue her, but then she caught on by herself, and she'll begin trotting as she gets to the end of the rope behind me, and then slow to a walk when she's getting to the end of the rope in front of me. The spinoff is that it REALLY improved her trot, from being quite high headed, to being nice and slow and rounded... thousands of transitions! :D

:f: We've also done lots of ponying. Still pony Harlequin a bit. I try to get them out for at least a four km journey at least twice a week. And let them gallop twice a week..take them over to the field in the evening when they're up for it, and arrange the grouping so that there's a couple of energetic horses together with a more energy concious model, and they'll all usually do a ten or fifteen minute gallop and play.

:f: And for the rest it's just the training that I do beside them.

:f: Although I am teaching Sunrise to trot poles now.. using R+ as a motivator, and gradually chaining things together so she can do a couple of rounds before I need to reinforce her. In the begining, I reinforced for just walking over a pole.. then only for walking over a pole without hitting it (biggie for her! :blush: ), then for walking two or three poles.. then only if she trotted.. etc. She goes looking for poles now, so that's working out well.

:f: Something Ella has done with Harlequin, which is great for his confidence training too, has been to take him for walks up the driveway, loose, give him a little picnic when he gets there, then race him home. (about 150 metres each way.. ) Some days they've done that ten times.. so it adds up.

:f: My husband was taking Footprint slow jogging with him for a while, four times a week, training for Marathon and triathlon. That was GREAT! She was the best she's ever been. :D

:f: It's a bit of challenge isn't it, to be creative and non-pressuring about this, but make sure that they get what they need. I do feel that beyond making sure the feed is low enough in sugars, restricting food intake is not the best way to weight control. So exercise is really key..

Cheers,
Sue

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 Post subject: Re: Conditioning a Horse
PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:39 am 

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Sue,
I love the idea of teaching them to automatically adjust their speed to yours. I guess since I can teach a dog to do that I can teach a horse to do that :D


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 Post subject: Re: Conditioning a Horse
PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:36 pm 
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Oh, interesting article, Karen! Thanks for the pointer!

One small thing, though -- at one point she writes:
Quote:
The importance of the cool-down period is that the slower work helps the blood remove lactic acid from the horse's muscles. This is necessary to minimize stiffness and soreness in the horse day after it's workout.


This is physiologically incorrect!

Quote:
Most runners still believe that lactic acid is released during hard or unaccustomed exercise and that this is what limits running performance, as well as being the cause of stiffness. Neither is correct. But not even is the terminology of “lactic acid”.

Lactic acid does not exist as an acid in the body: it exists in another form called “lactate”, and it is this that is actually measured in the blood when “lactic acid” concentration is determined, as is done from time to time. This distinction is important not only for the sake of correctness, but more importantly, because lactate and lactic acid would have different physiological effects.

The greatest myth is that lactic acid is the cause of the stiffness felt after an event such as a marathon. Stiffness is due mostly to damage to the muscle, and not an accumulation of lactic acid or lactic acid crystals in the muscle.

Another misconception is that lactate is responsible for acidifying the blood, thereby causing fatigue. To the contrary, lactate is actually an important fuel that is used by the muscles during prolonged exercise. Lactate released from the muscle is converted in the liver to glucose, which is then used as an energy source. So rather than cause fatigue, it actually helps to delay a possible lowering of blood glucose concentration, a condition called hypoglycemia, and which will cause a runner to feel weak and fatigued if it occurs.


More at http://www.time-to-run.com/theabc/lactic.htm

Another random thought: I read in Dressage Magazine a while back that a number of trainers were doing 15 minutes to half hour training sessions twice a day and finding they were getting much better results than an hour a day in one fell swoop...


:)
Leigh

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 Post subject: Re: Conditioning a Horse
PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:49 pm 
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I had one teacher who only taught in half hour increments. You were to have had a light warm up and be ready for a lesson and work for half an hour. SHe had wonderful results, and it meant that most folks who were close got to come out and ride twice as often, and that a shorter session meant a lower fee and more folks were able to benefit from her knowledge. I always remembered this and have always thought it was best. I tend to ride maybe 45 minutes over all, including light warm up and cool down (and light work right now, too). If I lived closer I'd do more what the article suggests. But alas, it is hard enough to get out at all, so one slightly longer ride is al I get.

Time to sneak out to the barn and see what it looks like in its long term (I imagine) configuration of 1 owner, his brother in law, and that's it for now.

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 Post subject: Re: Conditioning a Horse
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:46 am 
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That is so true I think :)

A lot od old masters where often done in 5 to 10 minutes.
"Done?" Auditors wold say. "Done" the masters said."when he is done, he's done" :)

I myself mostly ride (if I do) 10 to 20 minutes. I preferable teach 30 minutes.

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