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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun. 30, 2011
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    5

    Question Cardio Fitness

    Suggestions for the best way to build up cardio fitness in a horse that has been out of work for about 6 months (just because not due to injury). I know different ways to muscle tone but I've never really thought about cardio in a horse. Awhile back she had pneumonia, which she recovered from but left her a heavy breather. Before you couldn't hear her breathing, now, at the canter you can hear her. Again, I know how to bring her back physical fitness level wise. Suggestions on cardio? More trotting? More cantering?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec. 13, 1999
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
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    35,788

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    I'm conservative when re-starting a horse, and start with at least a week of 20-30 minutes a day of walking under saddle. If he was mostly stalled for those 6 months (ie just a couple of hours turnout) then I would start farther back and spend a week hand walking for 20-30 minutes, but I skip that if he's been on decent sized pasture for that time off.

    Beyond that, you start adding trot work, adding a few minutes every couple of days, or longer if breathing/heart rate recover is too slow. At 15 minutes of trotting, assuming it's not 15 1-minute sets then canter is added.

    Increase time or intensity, but not both at the same time.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun. 30, 2011
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    She's been 24/7 turnout including time in a few acres field. Her muscularture is great. Vet was shocked this was how she looks with no riding.

    Sounds like a normal plan of bringing a horse back. Like I said I've never really thought about cardio vs. muscle. For people its very different so I was curious to see if anyone had anything different for horses.

    Thanks JB!



  4. #4
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    Dec. 13, 1999
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    Greensboro, NC
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    It's really not all that different between us and them There are muscles and ligaments and tendons that have to gain fitness, as well as the heart and lung capacity. It's all done by carefully increasing the amount and type of work. Variety is important at some point as well
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan. 16, 2002
    Location
    West Coast of Michigan
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    36,321

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    Cardiopulmonary fitness is the EASIEST part of a horse's fitness to build. Returning to work after a long period of time off is much harder on the bones, tendons, and soft tissues than it is on the heart and lungs.

    Maximum turnout helps a lot. But with a truly and profoundly unfit horse you need hours and hours and hours of walking to get the musculoskeletal system ready to handle faster work. Once you're doing a little bit of trotting, the heart and lungs will catch up very quickly. That doesn't mean you can neglect the rest of the horse, though!

    I think the old axiom is to spend one week on basic fitness for every month beyond the first one that the horse has been out of work.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun. 30, 2011
    Posts
    5

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    Quote Originally Posted by deltawave View Post
    I think the old axiom is to spend one week on basic fitness for every month beyond the first one that the horse has been out of work.
    I like this rule of thumb

    And the difference I meant was for us we can do weight training for our muscles versus a treadmill for cardio.

    I really don't think it'll take long to get her back.



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