View Full Version : Making the 20 Minute Ride Count?

May. 2, 2012, 09:52 PM
If you had ony 20 minutes to ride a stiff, out of shape horse with decent basic gaits 2-3 days a week, what exercises would you recommend to help him supple? I have endless patience, so want to take the time to get a great quality walk and rythmic trot.

Horse is also being ridden by a hunter rider 2 additional days a week, WTC and popping over some cross rails, so he's being legged up pretty well.

May. 2, 2012, 09:57 PM
Start with easy warm up on a loose rein with no circles; walk, trot and canter. Then move on to a walk on a longer rein, but with more steady contact and do walk figures. Get creative with them. Write words in cursive. Make sure to go both directions. Get him listening and yet also work on getting him to step under when asked and to be more flexible in his body.

Then go to the trot and do transitions within the gait on the rail, moving to doing figures around the arena anywhere you want them. Do not just use letters. Ride them when the moment feels good. Then move on to some lateral work. Change directions frequently. Move around. Do most of the work posting until you get to lateral work or smaller figures. Work on yourself as well as the horse.

Finally, go up to the canter and work changes of length of stride within the gait a few times each direction and maybe a couple of circles, then quit. You'll be surprised how after a few weeks of this your horse will be able to do much more.

May. 2, 2012, 10:04 PM
I don't always have a lot of time to ride--20 minutes is the norm most days, anything more than that is a luxury unless I want to be at the barn until 10 p.m. With my horse, what tends to be most beneficial is doing a couple minutes of trot on a loose rein, canter a lap or two in each direction, and then get down to some more serious bending/stretching/baby lateral work. His trot is much looser after he's cantered a bit.

I don't really take any major walk breaks besides the first and the last few minutes, and I don't do a lot of straight lines. We circle and weave around jumps a lot. You can get a lot done in 20 minutes!

May. 2, 2012, 10:37 PM
If I have a short ride I will work mostly on walk or trot and transitions within and forgo the canter for a day if need be.

Since so much of canter is prepared by other gaits and made better by the actual transition TO canter I will work on walk and its transitions within and same with trot.

Next ride my walk to canter and trot to canter are always way better as my horse is usually on the aids and prepd :)

May. 2, 2012, 11:21 PM
10 minute warm up, 5 minutes more strenuous/cardio work, 5 minute cool down.

For me, that would be 5-7 minutes walk, both directions. 5-7 minutes trot, 5 minutes canter, walk cool down. I work on long and low, stretching over the back, focusing on a swinging back with a pushing hind in my short rides.

May. 3, 2012, 12:35 AM
If I only had 20 minutes to ride a stiff, out-of-shape horse, I'd work entirely at the walk until my horse wasn't out of shape and stiff. Flexions in hand before mounting. Depending on the horse, either a relaxed but forward walk on a loose rein or walk on contact mobilizing the jaw, 5 minutes. Marching walk, with halt-walk transitions (mobilizing the jaw if on a loose rein prior to this), 5 minutes. Lateral work moving the haunches and moving the shoulders, bending and counter bending, 10 minutes, strategically and slowly building in difficulty.

As the horse's suppleness and strength increased, I'd start working on hills if I could get to them and/or build more transitions into the sessions. Then perhaps a little trot work but there wouldn't be time to do much more because I like a 10-15 minute warm up and cool down bookending any serious trot and canter work.

May. 3, 2012, 09:33 AM
Well, if he's being ridden 4 or 5 times per week including a little jumping, then he can't be that out of shape.

Personally, I wouldn't spend too much time focusing on the walk. Unless you know what you're doing, or you're just letting him cruise around, this can be a recipe for wrecking his walk.

If he has a good quality canter then I would spend a lot of the warm-up at the canter. Either way, work on keeping him really forward without letting him get unbalanced or strung out. This means keeping a good contact with his mouth and not letting him go around on loose rein the whole time. Do lots of circles (making sure that he is properly bent), changes of direction, and transitions. Make sure his attention is on you, even if you feel like you are having to do a transition or a figure every fifth stride.

As far as the meat-and-potatoes of your ride, practice riding correctly and deeply into your corners. So many riders neglect their corners, but in dressage they are one of your best friends. They will help bend, collect, and balance your horse. Insist that his transitions are prompt, clean and un-rushed. Work toward 15m circles and 3 loop serpentines, and practice your transitions within shoulder-fore. Riding in straight lines will not help his stiffness.

May. 3, 2012, 09:38 AM
Head-to-the-wall (on an angle) legyields get A LOT done, even in the walk.

Straightness, suppleness, connection, control of the hips and shoulders, flexibility, strength...all in one trip up the longside.

May. 3, 2012, 09:54 AM
If you horse is turned out (and thus already walking around a good bit) you can do about all you need to do in 20 minutes. Most horses don't have an attention span much longer than that anyway. I rarely ride a young or old horse in particular for longer than 20-30 minutes. My prime of life, fit horses get ridden 40-60 minutesish.

Walk around the ring twice. First lap on a loose rein, second add contact doing a little lateral work down the long sides. Trot around on a loose rein a few minutes, add the contact and work on something (stretching, lateral work, serpentines, transitions, whatever -- mix it up based on whatever you are working on, and incorporate a variety each day) for 5-10 minutes making sure you go both directions. Walk halfway around the ring and do some canter work, then some trot-canter work (3 minutes). Then a minute of trot, back to stretching and walk for five minutes to cool out.

Of course if you find a sticking point you can rework to focus on that, but generally the above will not be too hard on a horse but still offer an opportunity to work on a couple of areas, which is about all one needs to accomplish in any given day.

If you are prepping for a big show, upper levels, etc. obviously more fitness is required.

I know you said you are endlessly patient but make sure you are not taking it so slow you are boring the horse to death. His mind needs to be engaged to develop.