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View Full Version : Youngsters: time in the saddle vs. ending early on a good note



SnicklefritzG
Jul. 4, 2012, 06:24 PM
My youngster (6 yo OTTB) is coming along nicely and feels like a completely different horse from a couple of months ago when we started working with a new trainer, an event rider who has a lot of experience with OTTB's and has been very successful with them.

We're far enough along now that we are going to start taking her to dressage shows :) in addition to some CT's as well.

My questions is this, when schooling on your own where are people drawing the line between giving your horse time in the saddle to help it increase fitness and to get used to training vs. ending on a good note when it did something exceedingly well?

There have been a number of times recently where I've asked my horse to do a particular thing that she's previously found difficult and the response is so delightful that I'm left thinking @#$! that was good and so I've ended early. That got me to thinking, so how many times should I being doing that (ending early after 20-30 min, incl. warmup) vs riding for longer periods to build fitness? My horse is very smart, so I definiely don't want her to begin to think that having me in the saddle means a short ride and then we're done, because at shows this isn't going to happen. On the other hand, I do want to be fair and include rewards where appropriate.


What are peoples' thoughts on this?

ToTheNines
Jul. 4, 2012, 06:32 PM
I ride hunters, and have an 11 year old that I got when he was 3. He is exceedingly smart, and "training" him was always simply a matter of asking him right. Ever since I got him I have followed the philosophy of ending when he is good even it means only a 20 minute ride.

This horse NEVER disappoints at home or at shows. I firmly believe he knows when he is good.

For conditioning, I ride him on easy hacks in the field. Lately I have been conditioning him with a Pessoa rig and bitless (hackamore) noseband. for 25 minutes a couple of times a week.

bornfreenowexpensive
Jul. 4, 2012, 06:41 PM
I end ring work early when they are good and go for a hack. The hacking out is what increases the fitness without drilling in the ring.

Today...we went for a hack first, then did some dressage.

ThirdCharm
Jul. 4, 2012, 06:42 PM
Training rides and conditioning are very different. Hack on the road, gallop, trail ride to condition. You're not asking for anything much so not like he's going to give you such brilliance you quit early. Unless your trails are way scarier than ours.....!

Training rides do not need to be very long. My 5yo gets about 20 minutes, max.... My Prelim horse maybe 35.

Jennifer

GoForAGallop
Jul. 4, 2012, 06:45 PM
I end ring work early when they are good and go for a hack. The hacking out is what increases the fitness without drilling in the ring.

Today...we went for a hack first, then did some dressage.

This. My baby (4) OTTB loves hacking and is always fantastic, and if something "bad" happens it's just working through a scary spot or something.

So after we end on a good note in the ring (which has been as early as ten minutes of real work, depending on what I'm looking for) we go off, meandering through the fields. I'm blessed to have a variety of slopes to work on, so I have a path that leads us both up and down.

It's remarkable how much fitness (for a young horse) and awareness (of their growing bodies!) can be built up just by hacking out at the walk, on a loose rein.



My older horse is sneaky sneaky, after I taught him that a good job means a trail ride. He nails everything on the first or second try, and then starts heading for the exit. :lol: So sometimes I'm a mean, equally sneaky mom and go work him in a field somewhere, or work on sidepasses on the dirt roads, etc.

yellowbritches
Jul. 4, 2012, 06:49 PM
It depends.

There have been days (even on experienced horses) where they have been so good and brought their A game, that I will call it a day as soon as I feel like there is nothing left to do. There are even times where if they do something really well, especially something they have found hard, or if they just tried REALLY hard from the first second, that I will halt, jump off, run up my stirrups, and give big, big praise. There are just moments when I want the biggest, bestest reward I can give them, which is WE'RE DONE! :lol:

But, there are days that the horse has been great in the ring and I feel like there isn't much else to do, so I will take them for a nice hack, or do something fun like pop over a few fences. I very, very often will hack my horse after a school, partly because it is a nice let down, partly because he needs the practice of being relaxed out and about, and partly for his fitness (caveat- he is trying to be a prelim horse, not a baby just starting out).

So, it really depends on the moment and what I feel is best for the horse right then and there. No rule to it. The only exception may be a more advanced horse that needs the exercise for fitness (in which case, if they are perfect for 15 minutes but need an hour's worth of work, we'll hack the other 45).

dbolte
Jul. 4, 2012, 06:51 PM
Completely agree with the previous posters- if the horse is good, especially if they have done something well that they have previously had trouble with, end the ride on the good note, and go for a hack if you want more saddle time. You can always do separate fitness work if necessary, but most of the time I find the regular riding keeps them fit enough to run Novice comfortably.

SnicklefritzG
Jul. 4, 2012, 06:54 PM
Some great responses so far!

Yeah, that tells me what I was looking for. There have honestly been some times where I think I accomplish within 15 min. what I need to in the ring.

The place where I board is very lovely, but it doesn't have trail access. There are a couple of small fields I can ride in which are large enough for a good canter. Not much in the way of hills although there are a couple of places where you have a small incline equivalent in height to maybe a 2' bank jump except with a slope instead of a step. Sometimes I've hacked in the field and go up and down those. :)

dappled
Jul. 4, 2012, 06:54 PM
Training rides and conditioning are very different. Hack on the road, gallop, trail ride to condition. You're not asking for anything much so not like he's going to give you such brilliance you quit early. Unless your trails are way scarier than ours.....!


I would agree with this. If I'm having a training ride, where I'm specifically trying to teach something or achieve some desired result by the end of the ride why continue to ride after you have achieved it? Once you get the point across and your horse does it well, I see no point in belaboring it. If this means you have 20 minute training rides, so be it!

Conditioning rides, for me anyways, are less about "training" or expecting a desired result, and more about fitness. However, I would still be riding correctly... hacking for me does not equal no contact, above the bit, "blah" rides, if you will. I'm obviously still going to be asking my horse to be moving out, maintaining good contact, and getting him soft and supple. However, I'm not trying to achieve anything specific or work on anything new. I guess to me that's the difference between hacking/conditioning, and training.

SnicklefritzG
Jul. 4, 2012, 06:55 PM
@goforagallop: "My older horse is sneaky sneaky, after I taught him that a good job means a trail ride. He nails everything on the first or second try, and then starts heading for the exit. So sometimes I'm a mean, equally sneaky mom and go work him in a field somewhere, or work on sidepasses on the dirt roads, etc.
"

That's awesome. Good thing I wasn't drinking a beverage otherwise you'd owe me a new keyboard!!!!

bornfreenowexpensive
Jul. 4, 2012, 06:57 PM
on a young horse....just going for a walk will put enough fitness on him. Don't worry about finding place to canter.

subk
Jul. 4, 2012, 08:35 PM
so how many times should I being doing that (ending early after 20-30 min, incl. warmup) vs riding for longer periods to build fitness?
A couple things. Because he is an OTTB he has more than likely already achieved a level of fitness that you will never need him to achieve again. With an OTTB you don't "build up fitness" as much as you recover lost fitness. Generally this is a much easier process. If you rode 30 minutes a day 4 days a week that's adequate enough for most OTTBs to run BN or N. My point is fitness really isn't something you need to worry much about on a green horse like this.

For my green TBs unless I am in a lesson situation (and sometimes even then) I rarely work longer than 30 minutes. If you are asking a young horse to physically work correctly by engaging the hind hind and lifting over his top line (at whatever stage he may be doing that!) 20-30 minutes is physically a lot of work. Personally though I don't think it is a physical thing as much as it is mental thing. 30 minutes of keeping the brain engaged on you is a lot for a green horse.

I guess all that's a rambling way to say while you think 20-30 minutes is quitting early, 20-30 minutes of concentration is about all I'm looking for. Somedays I hop off at that point somedays I go for a hack.

retreadeventer
Jul. 4, 2012, 09:46 PM
Foxhunting. No better way to condition AND train. JMO.

KateWooten
Jul. 4, 2012, 10:15 PM
On a related note - how do we feel about more than one ride / work in a day ? I have 3-5 horses / ponies in various degrees of training, and I'm away working anything from 2 to 4 days a week. This often leaves me with 3 good days to work horses. In this heat they come in from the pasture early, and are worked in the morning. I'm thinking particularly of the cantankerous little 4 year old pony mare with bad ponytude. She's a little rocket, who likes to fight and fight, and run and run ... often our 25 minutes in the morning are me letting her trot up hills until she can get her pony head together to listen to something, and then 3 minutes in the arena to find a good note to quit. Because of this heat they all stand in during the day with fans and hay. It gets cool enough by 7.30 in the evening for me to want to be out again. That's nearly 12 hours rest. So I've been taking her out again in the evenings and actually getting 20 minutes of significantly better attitude. But she is only 4 years old. It's kind of a lot for a little one.

(The other 4 year old who is a benign old soul does his 20 minutes in the morning and is perfect, and then gets to eat for free for the rest of the day ;) )

SnicklefritzG
Jul. 4, 2012, 10:23 PM
@KAteW: There was an article in one of the equestrian mags not too long ago about Mary King and her top horses. There was one, I don't recall which, who she said she gets out twice a day. She said that particular horse is a bit on the hot side and benefitted from being ridden or lunged in the morning so that she could get a more productive ride out of him later in the day. This was in addition to tons of turnout.

The total amount of work you are talking about doesn't seem like much more than what folks are suggesting in my case. I guess the only thing would be her age. Although if this leads to productive ring work in the evening and you are only doing it a few days per week (not every day), it doesn't sound too bad.

Carol Ames
Jul. 5, 2012, 12:22 AM
End on a good note!:yes:
"instant off":cool:

Carol Ames
Jul. 5, 2012, 12:28 AM
of full format ;)3de, getting them out again would be the norm:yes:

RedxHandedxJill
Jul. 5, 2012, 02:55 PM
Agree with everyone else. With my OTTB that I'm working on getting more fit right now, I'll ride until I feel like he's really working/engaging his mind. Sometimes it takes longer, so we work until then, if he brings his A game right away we work for awhile, either introducing new concepts or just having some fun. I always end with a quiet hack around the barnyard. To him that is just as much of a reward as me hoping off since I let him go on the buckle and at his own pace.

Really, it's six one, half a dozen the other. I do what I feel he needs that day. I'll also sometimes hack out immeditely and use some dressage concepts. Teaches him that he has to behave at all times. Not just ring times ;)

I also don't have a lot of big, hilly places to ride (I'm in Colorado. What's a hill) So I make do with what I have! (barrow pits and irrigation ditches! haha!)

leahandpie
Jul. 5, 2012, 03:20 PM
Lots of really great insight on this thread. I agree with others~ let them be done when they are really good and then get out for a hack.

I really never school for more than 30 minutes...usually it is about 20 minutes of work and then end on a good note. The *only* arena rides that have ever lasted longer than that were the out of the blue, Pie suddenly won't walk over a pole on the ground rides! LOL

GotSpots
Jul. 5, 2012, 03:37 PM
Most young ones (or those going Novice, BN, or below) do not need much in the way of "conditioning" rides and I wouldn't have any of mine going twice a day. (I don't really want them particularly fit, especially the athletic ones who have too much octane already - the fitter they get, often the harder it is for them to "get" a new exercise because they can't get out of their own freshness!) In my experience, 20-25 minutes of correct flatwork or a light jump school is more than enough for a youngster. My four year old OTTB probably never does more than that; instead he goes on hacks, gets brought along to shows and other farms, hops over logs outside and/or stuff in the ring etc.

I think it's way way too easy to start to "drill" a young horse, and I've never seen a positive outcome from it. There's only so much mental work the young ones can handle, and you want them always thinking that the ring is a fun, safe place to be.

merrygoround
Jul. 5, 2012, 04:00 PM
At this age, and this level, there is time for working longer. Now you need to establish a happy horse who will willingly accept a new challenge.

retreadeventer
Jul. 5, 2012, 04:17 PM
It really does depend on the horse. Some four years olds are quite mature, physically and mentally, while some are really still three-year-olds and need less stress and more fun stuff.
But it hardly seems worth it, to me, to tack up and ride for 20 minutes. I can't even get warmed up in 20 minutes. I am a one-hour-per-horse type, I think. By the time I groom, tack, cool out, untack, bathe and put back....it's an hour....
I have ridden an hour or more per horse, but lots of times our foxhunts are well over 2 hours in the saddle per. The horses that are fit don't seem to have a problem with it but we also give them a good day off after, too. Many foxhunting horses go for years on that sort of schedule, riding hard for 3 hours twice to three times a week in winter during the season. The nice thing about it is the horse doesn't realize it is work. They simply out with the buddies going along in the herd, and it works.