The Art of Natural Dressage

[Question] How do you build up condition in groundwork
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Author:  Bianca [ Thu May 17, 2007 10:13 pm ]
Post subject:  [Question] How do you build up condition in groundwork

Evita is now 9 months pregnant so I do very little exercise with her but lately I was questioning how do you build up a horses condition not only in the form of strength but also in cardio exercising? Not for now but when she is fit to train again.
Lunging is not the way we can do it now because the cordeo Evita and I are no match (for now, maybe in the future it will be) and she is not about a lot of running around by herself. I don't chase her around ofcourse (the one thing wich is the result of trying a bit of Monty Roberts 2 years ago is that she comes directly to me when I wiggle a rope) so I think the only way for the period before the lunging with the cordeo is to run with her. So I take the time I don't exercise with her now to go to the fitnesscentre and train myself (for 1 - 1,5 hrs each day this week.. pfieuw). This gives a lot of needed energy to train her in the future but is not easy to combine with an already overloaded scedule...
I want to keep training myself but would like ideas to build up the horses condition without running next to her. Evita obviously has no good cardio condition now because I wasn't fit to run great lenghts.
Or is this not really necessary?

Evita is outside 24/7 with my 1 year old Imperia but when I study them (when I work at home I can watch them all day) they run around a short while once a day and for the rest they just are quite lazy.. a lot of standing in one place and lying down. For now this is normal for my pregnant lady but bvefore this was the same. My 28 year old Atreyu walks quite a bit more I must add.

Is this no problem or does anyone have ideas/tips for training with a lot of running around without running yourself all the time?

Author:  Karen [ Thu May 17, 2007 10:39 pm ]
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Bianca, I would like to look into this as well. For where the groundwork as strengthened and reshaped Cisco's muscles tremendously, I wonder about his stamina, as this is not being addressed. Since I don't ride him much, I won't worry about it too much. He is on pasture 24/7 with a herd of about fifty horses, and they move as they will (or not). So as a natural horse in as natural an environment as we can provide, he's fine.

I think that horses are naturally as fit as they need to be for the environment they live in...more fit, certainly, learning ground exercises in-hand, than not. So if one is not going to ride for any length of time, and you are doing the work in-hand, I don't know that you need to worry about it.

It would be nice to know if there is information about this though.

Author:  Bianca [ Thu May 17, 2007 10:49 pm ]
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I wonder when she would be in better shape she would run around more during the day? Like you see when horses get more energy ritch food. The environment my horse are in is flat and they have to move 3 meters from the drinking- to the feeding bucket to survive ;)
I don't want to ride long times but it would be nice for her to move around a bit more I think...

Author:  admin [ Thu May 17, 2007 10:58 pm ]
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Our ponies cover about the same distance during the day...

I think that if you think of building stamina,the best thing (especially relationship-wise) is to run along with your horse. Lungeing is boring them to death (a wise lesson Honza Blaha taught me), and it's also quite unfair: 'horse, we're in a partnership, so I'm going to stand here and you run around me untill I say stop.' 8)

My sister wants to take the pony's for carriage-drives again, and they (especially Blacky) really like that. But we haven't done that in a year now, because first we need to find good bitless bridles. This driving is nothing but training stamina, as they pull a relatively light carriage over asphalt, without reincontact that restricts their heads or places themin a special position.

Author:  Bianca [ Fri May 18, 2007 7:56 am ]
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I think indeed you may be quite right about lunging. I nearly never did it because I hate it myself but the way it is done within NHE to practice passage and spanish trot seems nice ... but maybe this indeed is the same thing to a horse as running circles without a lunge line.
A carriage sounds nice (withour heavy things to pull) but unfortunately I can only get our of our driveway with a carriage over a 90 km/hrs road... There are people who ride with carriages over that road but I won't. Luckily by foot I can get out over the farmlands.
I live near the Maas lakes (riverlakes)and maybe I can go swim with her in the future! :idea: Now there are many cars driving off road there but this area will be inaccessible for cars in the near future.

Author:  admin [ Fri May 18, 2007 9:41 am ]
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Well, I think you can lunge your horse and I still do that with the ponies, but we do only one or two rounds each way and then we run together to another spot of the garden to do other stuff over there.

Author:  danee [ Fri Jun 08, 2007 11:20 pm ]
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You said your mare is pregnant but long walks would still do her good (and you too!) Maybe walk for awhile, graze, walk awhile, do a lesson. Pick up a trot here and there.

Or you could play with her in a pen at liberty but do it in slow motion?

I agree on the longing. My mare was always a good soldier and went around, but she was expressionless, so I would run with her instead. Now if I get her inspired running and playing, we can longe a little and her stay perky.

Author:  Bianca [ Sat Jun 09, 2007 10:48 am ]
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Well she is very scared and jumpy now so this is why I don't go for walks, also my old mare gets totally crazy when Evita is away so this is not relaxed now unfortunately. I tried walking around in the paddock and make her trot a bit but she really does not see the point (Uhm.. Bianca,.. why??) so I leave her alone and do some small exercises every now and then.
She rund around in the field with my youngster, this she enjoys.

Author:  Bianca [ Thu Sep 27, 2007 11:23 am ]
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Well, Evita is now starting to get uhmmm really fat :? She gets limited grains and I keep her on sand with hay at night but because of Unico she has to be on the grass during the day. But she will have to exercise more! The amount of exercise wich she gets with normal groundwork simply is not enough and I'm not able to run around half an hour :oops: Lunging is difficult because he does not know the cordeo and I'm not really planning to teach her. I guess running around like I'm lunging in freedom can be a good idea but how do I teach this without "chasing" her away from me? She always is by my side so I would really have to chase her away... any ideas?

I was thinking maybe make a small jump to make this a whole new thing, so when the jump is there she will have to run around to jump it, not necessarely away from me... is this a good idea to your opinions?

Riding her for longer times is not such an good idea because it is only 5 weeks ago when she has had Unico. She first has to build up strength and de-weaken her "hips". Walking around outside our fields is also not possible because of Unico.

Hope someone has good ideas!

Author:  Romy [ Thu Sep 27, 2007 11:39 am ]
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Well, I would have suggested going for walks together with her and Unico. Or cycling, which always seemed to be great fun for Titum. When Summy was younger I went outriding with Titum and our neighbour girl on her horse and we let Summy and the 2 Shetties run free. But we hardly have any roads here and if you say that you can´t leave the pasture, this will be no option for you...

Author:  Bianca [ Thu Sep 27, 2007 12:10 pm ]
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Oh you are sooo lucky! Indeed.. we are in between two 80 km/h roads here :(

Author:  windhorsesue [ Thu Sep 27, 2007 12:46 pm ]
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Hi Bianca.. I've had similar dillemas.
One thing I can suggest re the lunging idea...

I do some free lunging with some of my fatties, and the way that I work it so that I'm not chasing them is to teach it like any other task..using reward and encouragement.
So.. I start out walking with them.. then get them trotting, with me on the inside of the circle. Then I change my body position slightly so that I am angled slightly towards them, and ask for more space with my arms and energy.. this could be something like chasing away.. However.. when I'm first teaching it, the moment that they move further away from me, I stop and reward them for it. Then I gradually build it up, as they understand that I want them to maintain a certain distance from me, until they are able to trot or canter a lap around me at any distance. By changing my body position from walking more forward and towards them with arms wide, to curling my shoulder, walking more away from them, arms drawing them in, I can ask them to come in close, or go further away. I reward frequently in the beginning, to reassure them that I'm not really chasing them away, and that this is something enjoyable we are doing together. As they become confident with this, I can ask for two or three circles before calling them in to me for a reward.
Sometimes I have to be quite assertive with my energy in the early stages.. with the lazy ones.. As their fitness improves they become more motivated and begin to enjoy it for it's own sake.
To keep it interesting and stimulating, I never do more than a few circles before changing, and I work on lots of different tasks while we do it.
So.. sometimes I ask them to trot a circle then stop on the cirle, sometimes trot a circle, then run to me, sometimes trot a circle then across the circle past me to change direction. Lots of transitions. Sometimes I take them into the big arena and let them be more creative.. figure eights are cool! Sometimes they will show me that they want to break loose and play, and then I take their suggestion and we whoop it up for a while. Right now we're working on shoulder in on a small circle in between bigger circles at a trot or canter, and walk canter transitions. I don't do it every day.. I alternate with other kind of training (working on elements, free choice) and taking them for walks outside.
I always finish with up close work where we move together, as per cordeo work.

I'm very mindful that there it is very easy for a certain amount of pressure to be involved.. sometimes unavoidable.. So I try to find ways to balance it. In a perfect world, my horses would be so full of energy and playful that they would easily be motivated to exercise themselves sufficiently during their free time together, supplemented by the wild games and concentrated work we would enjoy together.. But in my real world, my horses are quite happy to eat as much as possible, exercise as little as possible, and fall into a vicious cycle where they no longer have any motivation to engage in vigorous activity. So, I have to compromise between the complete ideal of total horse free choice, and what I believe is for their own good.
When I get the balance between my insistence, and listening to their opinions right, they do become more motivated and want to play more. If I go too far into pressure, they (especially Sunrise) go on strike and resist joining in with my ideas when I give her the choice. It's not an easy balancing act.

Remember, just three times a week, twenty minutes a day is sufficient to make a big impact to the way they can utilize the carbs in their diet. Of course, the more the better! But even a little is much better than nothing.

Good luck!
Maybe Unico will join in a get his mum playing!

Cheers, sue

Author:  Bianca [ Thu Sep 27, 2007 4:27 pm ]
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Thank you Sue :D I'll give it a go!
Unico is aiming for becoming the first Spanish race horse... he runs and runs and very very fast. In the beginning Evita would chase him (and got slimmer :lol: )But she gave up :wink: Unico was too fast for her :lol:

Author:  horsefever [ Sat Nov 03, 2007 11:30 pm ]
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Hello Bianca:
I may have an idea and I believe my T-B liked this exercise (more than lunging anyways).
I have a 22 foot rope and I ask my horse to circle around me. Nothing technical, just walk around me. Doesn't have to be a perfect circle but he has to walk. Then I'll start walking while he's walking around me. Of course you need a large area, put in a couple of barrels, or different objects. The horse will go around them and find it interesting. then you can ask for the trot. while you're walking around.
I learnt this in Parelli. when I didn't want to just circle and wanted him to think, and also, if the space has small hills or the ground is not level, it's good for their legs (probably other parts of the body, I'm not a specialist). but the horse seemed to have fun doing it. Afterwards, you can ask him to change direction just by pointing (if he's learnt that).
Just an idea for you.

Author:  admin [ Sun Nov 04, 2007 6:11 pm ]
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Great idea, Jocelyne!

I do that with the ponies too. I was once at a Honza Blaha clinic, and did in fact the Parelli basics in a modified way. We then had to circle like when lungeing and Honza complimented Blacky on being so supple, but also said that he was moving very slow when trotting. I replied that that was because Blacky got really bored after a couple of circles. Honza's tip was to then stop circling before Blacky got bored and just trot forwards, to end in half a circle (or more) again. It was very interesting that I couldn't have figured that one out myself. :roll: :wink: But even now, when Blacky loves showing off how well he can trot circles at liberty I use this and ask not more than two or (almost never) three circles after another. Also his gaits just get better when after doing a collected circle, we move forwards in a faster tempo. Especially his canter but also his trot improved a lot because of that.

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