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View Full Version : Getting the S-L-O-W Warmblood fitter?



SidesaddleRider
Mar. 31, 2011, 10:03 AM
I have a WB gelding (dressage bred), who is the most laid-back guy in the world -- which is semi-good as I do the hunters and not jumpers or dressage. He also hunted this past season, but in the sense that when the rest of the first field was flying across an open pasture, we were quickly passed as we loped our way along. We caught up when we caught up. And he was fine with that. :lol:

However, that is NOT my usual manner of hunting, and I would REALLY like him to be able to keep the energy level up when jumping courses, which he will especially have to do as the jumps start getting higher than 3'. He has a huge stride, and lopes the lines (I am usually half-halting to try to fit in the distance at shows), but we don't have enough "engine", IMO.

He already does trot sets on hills -- my normal (and previously 100% successful) routine for getting horses fit enough for hunting. However, that isn't cutting it in this instance (and yes, he has been throughly checked out health wise by one of the country's top vets -- he is FINE -- just QUIET :)). He normally gets turned out for ~12 hours per day, in a herd, in a pasture with several big hills.

Has anyone incorporated galloping sets to build up fitness? Should I add in swimming him? Other thoughts?

Most of my horses have been TBs, WB/TBs, QH/TBs, or if full WBs Trakehners, so I am used to a bit more "blood."

PNWjumper
Mar. 31, 2011, 12:17 PM
I have a warmblood mare who is the epitome of "dead." She lives in a big field with other horses and you should see the evil looks she gives when they all start running around :lol: She refuses to expend one ounce more energy than she absolutely has to in order to survive. This includes her jumping style where she clears each fence by little more than an inch or two (which is a great time saver in jump-offs, lol!).

Unlike your guy, she does need a little more get up and go down the lines (jumpers, not hunters) and she has a short-ish step to boot. So her fitness (and maximizing her step) was my primary focus for the 4 or 5 years that we competed in the 1.30 and 1.40m jumpers.

Bear in mind that I'm not a fitness expert by any means, and I don't have the understanding in building fitness that I think most eventing people have. But with my mare I did a lot of conditioning in long work sets with the goal to work on her stamina. Our warm up EVERY SINGLE DAY was (and still is)....5-10 minutes of trot one way (we lengthen down the rail and shorten in the corners because I want the change of speed within the gait, and then add in 4-8 circles in the corners of the ring), 5-10 minutes of trot the other way, 7 minutes of canter one way (gallop down the rail, shorten in the corners), 7 minutes of canter the other way. I do all of this with no walking. We then walk for 5-10 minutes and then go on to do any collection/dressage/jumping work that we're working on for another 20-30 minutes (with a lot more walking interspersed). And if I'm limited on time we just do the warmup. I've found that that warmup, regardless of anything and everything else we did was the only thing that kept her "moving" through entire courses without starting to drag towards the end of the class and, more importantly for me, towards the end of a show. Her biggest need was to build and maintain stamina, and that did it for her.

I also added in double rides for the season that I had her in the 1.40m jumpers (which was really beyond her scope range, so I needed to have her in the best shape of her life). I'd do the 30ish minute warm up ride in the morning, and then do the warm up plus jumping in the afternoon. She was definitely at her absolute peak fitness that summer and had a lot more "oomph" under saddle.

But take all of that with a grain of salt. My mare is kind of a quirky horse, and there are a lot of things that work with her that haven't ever worked with other horses I've owned. I just happen to have a pretty good understanding of what SHE needs because she basically needs the same thing to build muscle as I do :winkgrin:

BridalBridle
Mar. 31, 2011, 12:23 PM
This really isn't meant to be snarky but well, you bought a warmblood. You can't make a bulldog into a whippet with a diet so you can't make a warmblood into a TB with excercise.
Either enjoy the slow ride or find a cheap TB to rock on with.

Small Change
Mar. 31, 2011, 12:25 PM
I don't know if this is helpful to you at all or not, but a friend of mine was paid to fit up hunt horses for a member of one of the big hunts in the US. She had a few lovely Irish horses who were totally ho-hum, and ended up galloping them to get them fit, as she couldn't get their vacation weight off them otherwise. The nice thing was that they were quiet enough the galloping didn't make them too hot for their riders in the hunt field, but did get them fit enough to actually keep up.

Burgie
Mar. 31, 2011, 12:29 PM
This really isn't meant to be snarky but well, you bought a warmblood. You can't make a bulldog into a whippet with a diet so you can't make a warmblood into a TB with excercise.
Either enjoy the slow ride or find a cheap TB to rock on with.


I have an Oldenburg mare that has TB about 6 generations back. Not all warmbloods are, nor have to be, slow and bulldoggy. Mine sure as heck isn't.

netg
Mar. 31, 2011, 12:34 PM
Is his fitness a problem, really, or is he just behind your leg? Nothing in the OP said "this horse isn't fit enough" but rather said "this horse is lazy and knows no one is making him move." That doesn't mean he's not fit enough, but I'm guessing you are going to have to up YOUR energy level to get him to up his.

SidesaddleRider
Mar. 31, 2011, 12:35 PM
This really isn't meant to be snarky but well, you bought a warmblood. You can't make a bulldog into a whippet with a diet so you can't make a warmblood into a TB with excercise.
Either enjoy the slow ride or find a cheap TB to rock on with.

I'm not trying to make him into a TB, trust me! (and I have plenty of them) I LOVE having a horse that I don't have to worry about lunging, riding down, etc. However, I do think his fitness can be improved, as it is not that he CAN'T move on, it is just that he is naturally LAZY and would prefer NOT to make an effort. ;)

PNWJumper, I think your program is just what I need to do with him.

Small Change, yep, I thought galloping might be a necessary addition to the program. Hmm, I can go over to the Training Track and gallop him there -- I can't wait to hear the laughs from the exercise riders!

SunkenMeadow
Mar. 31, 2011, 12:36 PM
I used to take my slow WB for some gallops occasionally, he really loved it and embraced it finally out in the fields. Still slow as molasses in the ring though...

SidesaddleRider
Mar. 31, 2011, 12:38 PM
Is his fitness a problem, really, or is he just behind your leg? Nothing in the OP said "this horse isn't fit enough" but rather said "this horse is lazy and knows no one is making him move." That doesn't mean he's not fit enough, but I'm guessing you are going to have to up YOUR energy level to get him to up his.

It takes about 3-5 minutes of trot/cantering to get him in front of my leg. After that, he is fine for the rest of the ride, but the fuel in the tank will run out, per se.

I have had several people on him (both hunter and event professionals who are VERY fit and have strong legs), and they all said he is really quiet, naturally lazy, but 100% willing to work, and he needs more fitness.

sar2008
Mar. 31, 2011, 12:47 PM
Has anyone incorporated galloping sets to build up fitness?

When I was working over at Bolinvar with GP, we did gallop sets around the huge front field on the Patton Barn side 2x/week with our guys. Most were draft crosses/very quiet and this seemed to help a lot. We hunted frequently with Piedmont, and they had no problems keeping up ;)

SidesaddleRider
Mar. 31, 2011, 12:55 PM
When I was working over at Bolinvar with GP, we did gallop sets around the huge front field on the Patton Barn side 2x/week with our guys. Most were draft crosses/very quiet and this seemed to help a lot. We hunted frequently with Piedmont, and they had no problems keeping up ;)

Well, that is a good enough recommendation for me. If GP's "heavy hunters" can keep up with PFH, then it must work! :lol:

whbar158
Mar. 31, 2011, 01:13 PM
I have a very lazy QH (although he does have go, but only when he wants to) and having him fit really does help. The lazy ones use any excuse to not work.

It does sound like he enjoys being behind your leg, ones that have a huge stride and are lazy can be hard, because for awhile they can get away with being behind your leg and still get down the lines fine.

I agree a good gallop can really help, my horse loved it, and he was much more willing to go forward outside of the ring so it was much easier to get him in front of my leg and in really good shape. I spent a lot of time outside of the ring with him (he really dislikes the ring) and once he regularly was in front of my leg and in shape it did make ring work way easier.

I also think if you get him fitter and in front of your leg better it will be easier to collect him down the lines too.

Oldenburg99
Mar. 31, 2011, 01:26 PM
I have a warmblood mare who is the epitome of "dead." She lives in a big field with other horses and you should see the evil looks she gives when they all start running around :lol: She refuses to expend one ounce more energy than she absolutely has to in order to survive. This includes her jumping style where she clears each fence by little more than an inch or two (which is a great time saver in jump-offs, lol!).

Unlike your guy, she does need a little more get up and go down the lines (jumpers, not hunters) and she has a short-ish step to boot. So her fitness (and maximizing her step) was my primary focus for the 4 or 5 years that we competed in the 1.30 and 1.40m jumpers.

Bear in mind that I'm not a fitness expert by any means, and I don't have the understanding in building fitness that I think most eventing people have. But with my mare I did a lot of conditioning in long work sets with the goal to work on her stamina. Our warm up EVERY SINGLE DAY was (and still is)....5-10 minutes of trot one way (we lengthen down the rail and shorten in the corners because I want the change of speed within the gait, and then add in 4-8 circles in the corners of the ring), 5-10 minutes of trot the other way, 7 minutes of canter one way (gallop down the rail, shorten in the corners), 7 minutes of canter the other way. I do all of this with no walking. We then walk for 5-10 minutes and then go on to do any collection/dressage/jumping work that we're working on for another 20-30 minutes (with a lot more walking interspersed). And if I'm limited on time we just do the warmup. I've found that that warmup, regardless of anything and everything else we did was the only thing that kept her "moving" through entire courses without starting to drag towards the end of the class and, more importantly for me, towards the end of a show. Her biggest need was to build and maintain stamina, and that did it for her.

I also added in double rides for the season that I had her in the 1.40m jumpers (which was really beyond her scope range, so I needed to have her in the best shape of her life). I'd do the 30ish minute warm up ride in the morning, and then do the warm up plus jumping in the afternoon. She was definitely at her absolute peak fitness that summer and had a lot more "oomph" under saddle.

But take all of that with a grain of salt. My mare is kind of a quirky horse, and there are a lot of things that work with her that haven't ever worked with other horses I've owned. I just happen to have a pretty good understanding of what SHE needs because she basically needs the same thing to build muscle as I do :winkgrin:


This.

Mayaty02
Mar. 31, 2011, 02:03 PM
sidesaddlerider, I am chuckling just wondering HOW you are going to get a gallop out of him :lol: Let me know when you're doing it, I need to see this!

DMK
Mar. 31, 2011, 02:18 PM
This really isn't meant to be snarky but well, you bought a warmblood. You can't make a bulldog into a whippet with a diet so you can't make a warmblood into a TB with excercise.
Either enjoy the slow ride or find a cheap TB to rock on with.

well crap, here's hoping she doesn't end up with MY Tb (cheap too!). I've struggled with the same issues. He's got a big swingy trot, but umm, like his dad (who won the Woodward twice), he believes the rider/jockey should also work hard (watching Lido Palace eek out that win, I'm not sure the jockey didn't need to be cooled down more than the horse :lol: ). This has presented an issue getting him strong through the stifles. That's always the hurdle for the youngsters, but with him, I could trot around the ring for hours and not really make a dent in the problem.

Fortunately I have the foothills of the Appalachians to do some trail riding, and it's amazing what an 8-12 mile ride, mostly at a walk up and down multiple steep grades can do for fitness (and typically not more than 300 feet changes in elevation, however that can be gradual or abrupt) than hills). If it's available, I highly recommend it.

sar2008
Mar. 31, 2011, 02:22 PM
Well, that is a good enough recommendation for me. If GP's "heavy hunters" can keep up with PFH, then it must work! :lol:

Seriously :lol: We had some big ones too!!!

Sport
Mar. 31, 2011, 02:32 PM
I was reading your description and I think it completely describes the next horse I want.

SidesaddleRider
Mar. 31, 2011, 02:34 PM
sidesaddlerider, I am chuckling just wondering HOW you are going to get a gallop out of him :lol: Let me know when you're doing it, I need to see this!

Well, see, my plan is that I'll do one direction, get off to rest, make YOU get on and do the other direction, switch again, and repeat. After a month of this, we will both have lost 20 lbs, and hopefully he'll be fitter! LOL

Mayaty02
Mar. 31, 2011, 02:36 PM
Well, see, my plan is that I'll do one direction, get off to rest, make YOU get on and do the other direction, switch again, and repeat. After a month of this, we will both have lost 20 lbs, and hopefully he'll be fitter! LOL

I like this plan!!! :lol:

Go Fish
Mar. 31, 2011, 04:58 PM
If he's making the distance, jumping well and gets around the course, I'm not seeing what the problem is. Most people pay big bucks for a horse just like this.

Maybe he's not cut out to be a field hunter. I don't think most WBs are bred for this purpose.

He sounds like the perfect show hunter to me! I'd be kissing myself in the mirror each morning for having the smarts to buy him!

Mia412
Mar. 31, 2011, 06:04 PM
[QUOTE=DMK;5518892]well crap, here's hoping she doesn't end up with MY Tb (cheap too!). I've struggled with the same issues. He's got a big swingy trot, but umm, like his dad (who won the Woodward twice), he believes the rider/jockey should also work hard (watching Lido Palace eek out that win, I'm not sure the jockey didn't need to be cooled down more than the horse :lol: ). QUOTE]

DMK, is your TB related to my young TB? Mine can zoom around the pasture all day tormenting his friends, but is quiet/lazy/mellow about work. He willingly stays in front of my leg as long as I'm working too.

OP, fitness will help. I'd like to lose 20 lbs too, maybe I can come help gallop your boy? After the weather prevented much riding this winter I need to be more fit to deal with my lazy beast!

SidesaddleRider
Mar. 31, 2011, 06:14 PM
If he's making the distance, jumping well and gets around the course, I'm not seeing what the problem is. Most people pay big bucks for a horse just like this.

Maybe he's not cut out to be a field hunter. I don't think most WBs are bred for this purpose.

He sounds like the perfect show hunter to me! I'd be kissing myself in the mirror each morning for having the smarts to buy him!

Oh, believe me, I am SO happy I bought him. MayaTy02 can attest to the fact that I ❤ him. ;)

The reason I want to get him fitter now is that I am concerned that when the jumps get higher and I am coming to one long, he isn't going to have enough "fuel" left in his tank to kick in some more impulsion and move up to it. I am darn good at seeing the spot, don't get me wrong -- but a top professional rider I am definitely not -- so I would like to know I have something left in reserve towards the end of the courses. Also, in the summer, he can get very tired after doing a full course in a big outdoor ring. He really uses the 2-3 trips between his rounds to rest up to be able to do the next one. So I would like to improve on that.

So basically, what I am working towards is really better show ring fitness -- I agree that he just will never be a horse I can hunt with a fast hunt like Piedmont, and that is fine, as I have plenty of others capable of doing so, and his primary job is to be a show horse and be lopey. But a bit more "oomph" to our lope would be nice! :cool:

trina1
Mar. 31, 2011, 06:21 PM
It isn't just WB's. SSRider, I have a five year old OTTB who is almost as slow as your WB. I too am trying to improve upon his fitness level just to do local horse shows at 2'6". I know I don't want him "too fit" as a hunter. I love having a TB I don't have to lunge or ride down before a show! Thanks for the suggestions everyone.

jay0087
Mar. 31, 2011, 07:02 PM
Sounds like my guy except he finds energy every once in a while to try and buck me off. I have only seen him trot in the field once and that was only because I made the other horse run from the gate and he went after him. He keeps my fields looking nice. We are just working on cantering around the ring for a min.

Oldenburg99
Apr. 1, 2011, 08:31 AM
If he's making the distance, jumping well and gets around the course, I'm not seeing what the problem is. Most people pay big bucks for a horse just like this.

Maybe he's not cut out to be a field hunter. I don't think most WBs are bred for this purpose.

He sounds like the perfect show hunter to me! I'd be kissing myself in the mirror each morning for having the smarts to buy him!

LMAO!! Too funny Go Fish!

starlight
Apr. 1, 2011, 08:42 AM
[QUOTE=SidesaddleRider;5519425]Oh, believe me, I am SO happy I bought him. MayaTy02 can attest to the fact that I ❤ him. ;)

The reason I want to get him fitter now is that I am concerned that when the jumps get higher and I am coming to one long, he isn't going to have enough "fuel" left in his tank to kick in some more impulsion and move up to it. I am darn good at seeing the spot, don't get me wrong -- but a top professional rider I am definitely not -- so I would like to know I have something left in reserve towards the end of the courses. Also, in the summer, he can get very tired after doing a full course in a big outdoor ring. He really uses the 2-3 trips between his rounds to rest up to be able to do the next one. So I would like to improve on that.



Well he is pretty much exactly the same as my big, slow moving, somewhat lazy black WB with 3 socks. Oh yes, we DO have horse twins! Lol!

This was my exact same concern too SSR, I *know* my leg is not super strong, so riding this one was really a challenge for me at first and I wondered how we would even trot-- let alone get to the jumps!

What we did was really work on fitness, but hind end fitness. When we did field work he went in draw reins and we focused on slowing down the front end, really engaging the back end (to teach him "yes, you MUST use it!") and not letting him get hollow through the back and neck. Galloping is an inverted type of gait, think how the TB's race, all stretched out, I don't think I would want to encourage my slow and behind the leg one to travel all stretched out (totally been there!). We want the slow WB to be powerful, even if slow, but to get that long spot they have GOT to canter under themselves and cover ground. It was hard for our guy-- he is long and had a weak hind end. I felt like I was being a bully when riding him but we didn't give up! It took a little muscle, I would get on and tell myself to ride him like a German!! Lol. That being said, it worked, and he is SO much more forward now but is still slow, just ground covering.

I can rent you my mom. Seriously! ;-) We went to ride on Christmas morning together and she was like "ok, I'm not leaving until we do this right or one of us dies..." Mom riding him really helped, plus the draw reins and conditioning, plus riding him with a very type A attitude and make him step under himself. Do a lot of trot and canter to halt, then "rev" him up at the halt up in to the bridle with a lot of leg and not letting him go backwards, then keeping all that contact trot forward, etc...

Hope to see you and the handsome horse soon!

E

DMK
Apr. 1, 2011, 09:16 AM
DMK, is your TB related to my young TB? Mine can zoom around the pasture all day tormenting his friends, but is quiet/lazy/mellow about work.

Hah! I wished he would zoom around the pasture all day. Nope, he goes out with my 19 year old. If they have been in for a day or two, and you turn them out it goes like this:

First 2 minutes: [pas de buck deux] Yay, run, buck, twist, yahooooooo!!!

Next Minute: [almost keeping up] Hey old man, why ya still running? There's hay you know? Oh all right...

Next minute: [loping along] Really? We are still running? Why are you bucking? There's hay AND grass, you know.

Next Minute: [loping in a small circle at center of pasture as Robbie careens around the pasture perimeter] Oh you gotta be kidding... Hay, H-A-Y, right. over. there. Are you senile you old geezer? Don't you need to refuel?

Next Minute: [changing direction at an impressive ... amble] Screw you, I'm STARVING.

Next 3 minutes: [munch munch munch] Geez, look at him go. What an idiot.


Needless to say he is a failure to his TB heritage. :lol::lol::lol:

hijumpin1
Apr. 1, 2011, 09:26 AM
Feed Red Cell.

Eventer13
Apr. 1, 2011, 09:43 AM
Gallop sets. If he gets hollow, then you need to ride him ROUND while galloping. Yes, its damn hard. I usually have to start at a slower pace, get the horse round, then slowly lengthen the frame while making sure I'm not losing the back. Many of the heavier horses can trot and trot and trot, its the cantering/galloping that actually gets their wind built up. They use different muscles, so if he's having trouble getting around a course easily in canter, then you need to actually train more of the fitness IN the canter/gallop.

Add in sprints. Those work very well to 1) get the horse in front of the leg and 2) add in fitness. Once he has a base, you can start adding short (like, 15sec) sprints and build up to 30+ sec.

If you are working on building the hind end, add in more shoulder-in (esp. at canter), haunches in, counter-canter, and lots of forward and back at the canter.

While I'm all for rider fitness, if you are having to work that hard to get your horse to go, then he needs a major wake-up call about getting in front of the leg. There are several great threads on the dressage forum about how to achieve this with a less-than-willing-to-go horse. And when riding a course, I think you'd really appreciate having a "go" button when you need it. You may need to get ugly for a week or two, but believe me, it is so much nicer not to have to work so hard to get your horse to go! And yes, the lazy ones CAN learn to be forward and off the leg.

There is a horse in my hunt, looks like a full Perch. VERY fit, ran 1st flight every time. NOT built to gallop in either his build or the way he moved (lots of knee action). If he can do it, so can yours.

Eventer13
Apr. 1, 2011, 09:45 AM
Feed Red Cell.

Its rare to have an anemic horse. If you're planning to go this route, I'd do a blood test to confirm rather than risking feeding them too much iron.

Lucassb
Apr. 1, 2011, 10:15 AM
I have owned this type of horse for quite a few years now. He can jump mountains... but would prefer to do so out of a trot, if possible. Cantering is just sooooo much darn work!

I joke that if I put a western saddle on him, we could do the QH peanut roller circuit. I swear, he can canter slower than most horses walk, if I let him.

Anyway, I can totally relate to the feeling that there just might not be enough engine running to, say, make up a little gap on the way to something 3'6" or so, and it's not a good feeling. Especially when you see the distance you like pretty far out, turn to go get it... and lose that half a step when they die a little coming off the rail.

Two things really helped my horse a LOT. The first was riding him twice a day. The early morning ride was done out in our field, trotting and cantering FORWARD around the perimeter.

The second thing was to refuse to work as hard as these horses want you to (something that was hard for me to learn, as I had gotten into the bad habit of really supporting the gait I wanted nearly every step of the way.)

You put the horse in the gear you want, and then just maintain a normal contact with your leg. If they drop behind the gear you've selected, you whomp them with a stick hard enough that they really bolt forward - if they don't RUN, you didn't correct them properly. Then you return to the previously selected gear and go back to a normal contact.

The horse has to accept that they need to stay where you put them until told to do otherwise. Ditto for your transitions. They are to go forward and back instantly to the degree that you specify. Once you establish that - and frankly, I was AMAZED at how prompt my "lazy" horse could be! - you can much more easily package them up to get that engine running better behind, giving you a much better quality canter to get to those larger jumps.

I will tell you that once I installed those buttons ... I really felt like I had the perfect show horse. I LOVE the nice quiet relaxed demeanor most of all - but it was *heaven* when that lovely attitude was combined with the instant willingness to go forward in a balanced canter anytime I wanted.

SidesaddleRider
Apr. 1, 2011, 12:54 PM
While I'm all for rider fitness, if you are having to work that hard to get your horse to go, then he needs a major wake-up call about getting in front of the leg. There are several great threads on the dressage forum about how to achieve this with a less-than-willing-to-go horse. And when riding a course, I think you'd really appreciate having a "go" button when you need it. You may need to get ugly for a week or two, but believe me, it is so much nicer not to have to work so hard to get your horse to go! And yes, the lazy ones CAN learn to be forward and off the leg.

LOL, no that was actually a joke between MayaTy02 and myself. When I got this horse, he had NO idea what responsiveness was. She rode him, in July, when it was 90+ degrees, and working so hard I thought she was going to pass out. ;) So last summer we had a come-to-Jesus moment, and I started riding him with BIG spurs and 2 dressage whips, and really working him with seat and legs -- like a jumper rider. That made a HUGE difference in teaching him to be responsive. The trainer that I bought him from rode him over the winter, as was ASTONISHED at how responsive he was compared to what he had been.

Lucassb: I must note, however, that he DOES NOT CARE if you beat him with a whip -- he will NOT run forward. I have used a show bat, a dressage whip, a racing bat with lead weight at the bottom, a crop, etc. He just goes, "ugh, what do you want?". Utilizing two dressage whips, more as annoyances, was the only thing that was successful.

Is he where I want him to be? No, not yet. But we are working on that. When cantering, I can "put" him into the frame and lopey pace that I want, and he stays there with a loose rein and collected frame -- until he gets tired. Hence why it is a fitness issue more than anything else. He can trot all day, but cantering? Ugh. So I think that is just where I am going to have work, to get the muscles and wind more used to longer periods.