View Full Version : What can you do in 20 minutes?

Merry Fox
Dec. 17, 2009, 11:03 AM
I'm looking for winter fitness advice to build fitness (and not bore myself to death in the process) with limited time and daylight. I work a full time job and by the time I get to the barn the light is fading fast. My ring has a light at one end that provides visibility for flat work and some trot pole work in about a 40 meter space give or take.

Can anyone make suggestions about how you would spend your 20 minutes? Excercises? Ideas?


Dec. 17, 2009, 12:03 PM
ok, didn't see that you were looking for ring work... but still, maybe this will be helpful to someone! (big duh to me!)

Do you have a cable package with on-demand programming? I do, and there is a "Fitness TV chanel" with a huge variety of workouts... cardio, pilates, strength training and every combination. Beginner and up. Workouts vary from 15 minutes to an hour. There are even some six-week program type where you change your workout each week and gradually increase the work, etc.

Even though I belong to a gym, some nights... ok, most nights... during the winter, the last thing I want to do is leave the house once I get home, walk and feed the dogs and start making dinner, especially when the weather is particularly nasty. These on-demand workouts are AWESOME for no other reason than I can just flip to that chanel and pick a workout to do in less than 30 minutes. One of my favorites is a 12 minute (no joke) pilates/core workout. I did it over the weekend and can still feel it!

I also have a mini stair stepper thing that I can exercise on while I'm watching my favorite 30 minute tv show.

Dec. 17, 2009, 12:23 PM
Pick something and work on it. Like leg yielding, or getting that perfect trot circle, lengthening, etc.

Something different every night, but just pick on thing to work on.

Dec. 17, 2009, 01:21 PM
What can you do in 20 minutes?

Clean 2 stalls, pick up poop from the horse porch, clean the chicken coop, dump the wheelbarrow, feed the chickens, dog, cats, and horses, and throw hay for the next week.

Oh, wait . . . ;)

If you're looking for things to keep the winter from being boring, I certainly wouldn't plan on riding in a big circle every time! I'd try to make a series of distinct "workouts" for you and your horse--take your pick:

1. Ride bareback, walk/trot/canter
2. Ground work--get that horse jogging like a pro, stopping on a dime, turn on the haunches/forehand, voice commands, etc. while in-hand
3. Longe with poles/cavalletti to keep the back and hind end nice and strong
4. Under saddle with no stirrups
5. Under saddle work on crisp, accurate, obedient transitions in and out of and within all gaits
6. A whole ride in two-point :D
7. Have a buddy longe your horse, with you riding minus stirrups and reins

ANY of these can make 20 minutes into quite an intense workout. :yes:

Dec. 17, 2009, 01:48 PM
Maybe I'm misinterpreting your post - but you said you have a light on your ring, right?

Is your ring flat and without other obstacles?

If so, I'd say you don't need to restrict yourself to 20 minutes at all! In fact, I find riding in the semi-dark or dark can be a very productive use of time, as I tend to focus more on my position and the quality of my horse's work (can't look at the neck for false sense of progress!) and the horses usually pay more attention to their feet and less to the imaginary creatures.

If you are worried, you could wear a head-lamp - but fair warning, some horses don't like the bouncy moving light in front of them!

Wear layered clothes, the first and last 5 minutes while warming up/cooling down are the coldest - the rest you won't notice since you'll be working!

Dec. 17, 2009, 02:13 PM
I was in this situation a few years ago at a boarding facility.

I'm at home now and as long as I'm riding when the sun goes down to pure darkness I can see/ride in the dark just fine. They 'yotes start stirring though...I don't like their pack calls.

But when I was boarding the farm had many paddocks with alley ways. I would just go trotting around the property.
And I would put my horse in an elevator. Or a snaffle with draw reins and not work on ANYTHING. If you get into a bind and you need quality schooling you won't have the time or light to do it.
Pick something that requires no discussion and will leave you and your horse feeling happy.

Dec. 17, 2009, 02:26 PM
I think it GREATLY depends on the horse (and, to some extent, the rider). We have two horses, owned by the same guy, who are polar opposites. His older horse would NEVER be a canidate for a quality 20 minute ride (a "speed ride" as we lovingly refer to them). It takes 20 minutes to warm him up before you can get anything quality out of him. 20 minutes is better than nothing, and at least he got out and stretched his legs and got his heart pumping, but it does nothing for SCHOOLING him. The other horse this man owns, though, is the master of the 20 minute ride. He comes out and is ready, willing, and able to go right to work. You can get a lot of schooling done on him in 20 minutes.

Usually, if I only have a few minutes to ride, I focus on just working the kinks out. A 20 minute ride will be 20 minutes of stretchy, bendy work, focusing on forward, straight, and quiet. I don't really go into it with anything more in mind that I just want the horse in question to get out, move his legs, and shake off the cobwebs.

Merry Fox
Dec. 17, 2009, 03:01 PM
Deltawave--these are great suggestions! We already do a lot of longing but I could add more ground work. I also like the no stirrups, two point, and longe by a buddy idea.

Yellowbritches--I see your point. If my guy has been turned out all day he usually plugs right in and we can at least get some good walk/trot work. Other nights I'm sure it will be a walkings session.

Thanks to everyone else--these are good ideas.

I'm going to throw in another winter riding question here.....how many of you use a quarter sheet? How cold does it have to be for you put it on? Do you leave it on the whole ride? My horse in unclipped and I rarely ride in tempertures below 32 degrees. (Please don't make fun or call me a weenie!)


Dec. 17, 2009, 03:38 PM
Is your horse normally blanketed? If no, then I wouldn't use a quarter sheet at all - unless he gets sweaty and needs help wicking away moisture and keeping him from getting chilled during cool-down.

If he is normally blanketed, then I might warm up in the quarter sheet then take it off while working, then put it back on while cooling out. However, if it's above 32 F and he isn't the frisky type, I might leave it off altogether - that way he is less likely to sweat from being too warm.

Dec. 17, 2009, 03:43 PM
In fact, I find riding in the semi-dark or dark can be a very productive use of time, as I tend to focus more on my position and the quality of my horse's work (can't look at the neck for false sense of progress!) and the horses usually pay more attention to their feet and less to the imaginary creatures.

I almost posted exactly this! Then decided against it because I worried it would seem snarky...but now that someone else has, I will ditto ditto ditto it. I would/have/do just ride in the dark, as long as the footing is decent, and it's wuuunderful.

Merry Fox
Dec. 17, 2009, 04:35 PM
Tucked Away--it's not snarky. It might be difficult in my situation; I'm near a busy road and have lots of areana obstacles to contend with but the idea is good!

Blugal--he is blanketed but not overly frisky. I'm guessing for what I do he needs nothing.