View Full Version : Give Your Horse a Break After Each 10 Minute Schooling Phase

Mike Matson
Feb. 14, 2011, 12:39 AM
As stated by Klaus Balkenhol at a large gathering of the recent Xenophon meeting and riding demonstration in Munster, Germany.


"After each schooling phase of around 10 minutes, Balkenhol recommends a short break. ‘This allows the muscles to relax and, thus, we can prevent tension".

I confess to getting wrapped up on some exercise or movement and going too long, so I plan on incorporating Klaus' advice into my working sessions.

What's your opinion?

Lots of great information in the summary of the Xenophon meeting at the link - check it out! :yes:

Feb. 14, 2011, 12:44 AM
I try to include more and more little breaks in my sessions. I found that it allows both me and my horse to take a deep breath, think and start again. I don't really monitore my ride, and will stop when at least something satisfactory happen, but even then, I prefer stopping few sec and walk, practice simething else and come back.

When I teach new movements, I prefer doing really short intense sessions than a big one that ends up being not quite good because the horse is tired. With youngers too.

Feb. 14, 2011, 12:47 AM
I didn't even know it had gone out of style until I joined the CoTH BB :lol:

Feb. 14, 2011, 12:51 AM
At least every 10 minutes, I'd say closer to 7 and my horse is still FIT. Any time my horse learns something new he gets a lap to lick and chew on the buckle and process.

Feb. 14, 2011, 12:52 AM
Klaus is da man ! Not to mention 10 mins of Klaus schooling is a real workout so very good idea to work in phases with rest/relax/stretch breaks.

Feb. 14, 2011, 12:52 AM
I'm another who tends to get a little carried away and too focused but definitely agree the regular and frequent breaks benefit not only the horse's muscles but also their mind and acts as a reward and incentive.

Working with youngsters freshly started u/s I tend to keep the sessions short and sweet, sometimes only 20-45min depending on what we are working on. Sessions are extended as condition improves and we have more to build on skills-wise.

spotted mustang
Feb. 14, 2011, 01:35 AM
I've always done that. But mostly it's ME who needs a break after 10 min. of work :D

Feb. 14, 2011, 01:53 AM
7 to 10 minutes. Always. Keeps the work and the horse fresh and relaxed. Lots of stretching.

Feb. 14, 2011, 02:18 AM
When I am seriously schooling and training, I always wear a watch.

I am really rusty on this, as in I haven't even thought about it in decades. Not able to find my books on it right now either, so .....

It was my understanding that after about ten minutes of intense work, that if you don't give the horse a long rein so they can stretch (and they always will if the work is correct), then the process of *building muscle* reaches a point where the lactic acid (that is what makes you sore the next day after a workout) begins to build up to the point that it is not being picked up by the lymph system (to be carried out of the muscle, into the bloodstream and out via kidneys). Too much lactic acid building up is not good, but there must be some worked into the muscles or you cannot build muscle.

Then there is some other process that doesn't work well after about ten minutes also (really not remebering this well at all, but ...) ... muscle fiber must get torn down a bit in order to build up some scar tissue in order for NEW blood vessels to work their way into the muscle structure so the whole damned system becomes more efficient.

You and your horse are actually making new blood vessels, veins, fiber and some other stuff while you are working. More like you tear things down while working, but then you and your pony eat a whole lot of food and take a very long nap and your body begins to repair and develop what you were working on earlier.

When you are schooling/riding intensely, at any gait, with a rythym that is either slower or faster than that individual horse would go at naturally, then you and the horse are building muscle and activating an entire metabolic system (not the same as just going along at a natural, relaxed gait trail riding or hacking).

Without stretching every now and then, too much lactic acid builds up and things begin to deteriorate and break down. Any scar tissue that is going to build that muscle back up is now going to take A LOT more time and leave too much scarring. Then you get muscle-bound ... loss of elasticity in the muscles and things begin to get tight ... permanently.

Or something like that.

The balance between strength and limberness.

Jackie Chan vs. Arnold Schwartzenegger.

Feb. 14, 2011, 11:57 AM
one of the most enlightening things i learned about how to work a horse was to learn how to work my own body (aka hard core physical training)...

i would say that every 10 minutes is a great goal, but if you are *really* asking those muscles to work (aka piaffe, cp , etc) then a rest after a minute or two is more appropriate.

Feb. 14, 2011, 12:13 PM
i break after each movement schooled, for two or three minutes.

Feb. 14, 2011, 12:40 PM
I like and do little breaks often as a reward, mental break, physical break for both of us. IMO it helps to keep that relaxation phase of the pyramid a SOLID foundation to build on.

Feb. 14, 2011, 01:40 PM
‘We have got to let the walk unfurl rather than 'ride' it’, he said.

That is a really nice image! I'll use that one today.

Vesper Sparrow
Feb. 14, 2011, 01:44 PM
My horse knows the word "break". He has come screeching to a halt on several occasions, unprompted.

Mike Matson
Feb. 14, 2011, 02:25 PM
:lol: I can relate.

Feb. 15, 2011, 12:08 AM
Ive seen people who never give their horse a walk break. They warm up and ride for an hour and never walk. It makes for a very tense, sweaty horse. I always take short breaks after schooling movements, esp if the horse has done it correctly. I often use them as rewards. The horse does the movement correctly several times and he gets a pat and a walk break.

The comment about the lactic acid is very interesting.