My daily routine is really normal for an average stable in Germany. My staff arrives at the stable between 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. The horses are fed, the boxes are leveled, the aisle is swept, my first horse is tacked up, and the staff members wander off to breakfast in the kitchen while I start training.
We have a deep litter system in our stable that is common for this region of Germany where stacked manure piles are heavily fined/taxed due to their run off contaminating the water supply. Instead of mucking out daily, our boxes are leveled, and fresh straw is thrown on top. Once a month the boxes are dismantled, and a tractor removes all the soiled bedding, which is immediately spread on nearby fields as fertilizer. This whole process, called ausmisten in German, takes four to five hours once a month.
While I am not a fan of this system, it does have its advantages. Due to the diligence of my staff and good ventilation, the air is always fresh in my stable with absolutely no ammonia smell, which I often notice in stables that are cleaned every day. The horses always have a thick layer of dry straw to stand on and a nice cushy mattress for lying down. Of course, daily labor is somewhat reduced as well.
I usually take my first breakfast after riding Maximus, who will always be my No. 1 choice to ride as long as we both live. By this time, my riders are tacking up their first horses and getting another one ready for me.
Our horses are only cursorily groomed in the mornings before training. We brush off the dust and the straw, bandage the legs and tack up. All of our horses are worked five to six days per week and normally for an intense 30-60 minutes depending on their level of fitness and work.
After riding, they are either bathed and put under the air dryer or groomed immediately and returned to their boxes. We save extra tasks (mane training, tail washing, stable bandages, leg treatments, etc.) for the afternoons.
By 2 p.m. each day, most of our 20 horses have been ridden. I have probably eaten breakfast three to four times between rides, and my riders have fed the horses and are ready for their own lunch. I skip lunch at the stable because the mini-breakfasts catch up with me after a while.
After training is completed for the day, I walk home to cook lunch (only one) for myself and work on the computer. Horse show entries, accounts, bills, blogs and clinic plans keep me busy for most of the afternoon. Back at the stable, all the horses are coming out a second time for intense grooming. They get their pajamas on and eat dinner between 5—6 p.m. And then there is quiet in the stable until the night-check at 9 p.m.
That is a normal day. But honestly, Rita, this kind of normal day happens approximately eight times a month. The other 22 days are packed full with extras: horse shows, vet and farrier appointments, lessons, horse shopping, clinics, aqua training, etc.
Last weekend I was not showing myself, so I followed part of my team and a few students to a national show at Meppen. (Showing is what we DO, and it is our usual weekend routine.) Meppen is near the Dutch border and is one of my favorite German shows. I try to compete myself or send riders there every spring. In 2008, Cadillac won his first Grand Prix there.
This year, Christoffer Nilsson rode a couple of the young horses for the materials classes. Rubicon, a 5-year-old gelding by Royal Hit, won the Materials at level A (training level) with an end score of 8.2. I was very happy with that!
Yesterday was supposed to be a day off after the busy weekend, but Casey Nilsson and I ended up driving two horses to the vet clinic for pre-purchase exams. Then I rushed home to write blogs and plan shows.
This morning I took Cadillac and Winyamaro over to the Kathmann Vital Center for aqua training—another extra in addition to our normal routine. Aqua training is done on a treadmill inside a tank, which fills with more than 2,100 gallons of water. The horses then have to wade/push through the water to keep up with the treadmill. The water level can be raised or lowered depending on which part of the body should exercise the most.
I like to take my Grand Prix horses to aqua training two to four times a month for a nice change up in the training. It helps condition the topline muscles needed for self-carriage and makes the back muscles very elastic. I can always feel the difference in passage after one of the Boyz has been aqua training in the morning. In addition, it is good preparation for getting into the flight containers used in shipping a horse by air. (Always thinking ahead, Rita, always.)
Here is a video clip of today’s aqua training.
I’m Catherine Haddad, and I’m sayin it like it is from Vechta, Germany.
Training Tip of the Day: Do you see your horse’s topline muscles responding to your training? A horse that is ridden through from behind every day will develop a remarkable topline.