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  1. #1
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    Apr. 29, 2011
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    Question Spin-off re tired horses: How much down time do the top hunters/Eq horses get?

    There seems to be a lot of speculation about a certain horse (or horses) possibly being too tired to compete.

    My question is general, however: How much down time do these top performing hunters (horses and ponies) and Eq horses get at "home" between showing on the winter and summer circuits? And by that I mean light hacks, turnout, and (mental) rest.

    Months? weeks? Are some pushed too hard? If so, is that the exception, or the norm?

    Not trying to start a TW, just generally curious.
    Barn rat for life

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  2. #2
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    Just a guess based on our personal schedule, it's like a month after indoors stays really light, and then a couple of weeks off wef/winter circuit. Then for us we do about another 3 light weeks between the end of the winter circuit and big spring show in late April.
    .אני יכול לעשות הכל על ידי אלוהים


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  3. #3
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    May. 22, 2012
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    I don't think you (OP) are going to get many "real" answers because most of the people that frequent this board don't ride or like the big As. Just read the thread about Parkland.

    Oh yeah, you will get those that guess and speculate they know all and all those in the big Hunters and Eq are abused and drugged up.

    I personally am very impressed how they keep their performance horses very sound. So many other horses around are dead lame and their backyard owners don't even know it.
    If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.


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  4. #4
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    Mar. 22, 2005
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    I think they get more time off than people assume. I looked at the number of shows for the top 6 nationally ranked horses in the following divisions and got the average number of shows for the year.

    Small junior hunter 15/u: 22.5, top horse did 25 shows.
    Small junior hunter 16-17: 22.67, top horse did 26 shows.
    Large junior hunter 15/u: 21.67, top horse did 15 shows.
    Large junior hunter 16-17: 23.16, top horse did 24 shows.

    None of the horses in the top 6 of any of those divisions did more than 30 shows. Several of them, including Lyle (who finished 5th in the older smalls), did somewhere in the mid-teens.

    The top horses are the ones who last and pounding the daylights out of their legs does not do that. They don't show every weekend, but when they do, they win and they win in a lot of company.

    Edited to add in the amateur-owners.

    3'6'' amateur-owner 18-35: 23.67, top horse did 33 shows.
    3'6'' amateur-owner 36+: 19.33, top horse did 24 shows.
    3'3'' amateur-owner 18-35: 19.5, top horse did 25 shows.
    3'3'' amateur-owner 36+: 20, top horse did 32 shows.


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  5. #5
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    Jul. 31, 2007
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    ^^
    Who are these A/Os who have time to show 24-33 weeks a year? Jeez.

    I won't bore you with my horse's schedule.

    I will say that I haven't ever seen a horse at a H/J show so leg-weary tired that at fell over. As a group, Big Eq horses are the most tired-looking ones I have seen. They do look tired-- in the short-term at the show where they are rapping lots of rails, but also in a longer-term tired where there's some stiffness.
    The armchair saddler
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  6. #6
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    Dec. 4, 2002
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    One of those top Jr Hunters is mine. He is regularly ridden 5-6 days per week. He jumps once or twice per week usually no more than 2'6" or 3'. He is ridden outside of the ring at least once per week.

    After a single week of showing he would typically be turned out Mon then trail ridden Tue. For 2 weeks of showing he'd rest 2 days, then trail ride. Around indoors he never jumped at home. After indoors, I think he had a full week off and then around Christmas he had a lot if turnout and no riding days.

    People are usually surprised that we jump so low at home and how few "practice" jumps we use. Our horse stayed very very sound and is currently leased to another rider.

    So there you go.....


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  7. #7
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    Oct. 21, 2009
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    I think when talking about schedules you always have to look at things in context within a program. For example, if I showed at 30 big AA shows per year that would be crazy excessive because of where I am located. We have to travel more than someone stationed in Florida or California, so I wouldn't expect to be able to keep up with the same number of shows as them without exhausting our horses from just the travel.

    Secondly, like JSalem said, you have to look at the training schedule as well. If you choose to jump fewer and lower jumps at home and when schooling, you will be putting a lot less wear and tear on a horse. Those horses would be likely hold up to more showing better than a horse that was jumped several times a week at height.

    I think you also have to take into account the horse itself. Some just do well with a busy schedule and some really need extra time off to stay sound and sane. Most young horses who are just starting on the circuit often need a longer period of recovery and a much lighter schedule than a seasoned show horse who knows the drill.

    Personaly, we typically show heavily for 2-3 months then give a month or two off from showing. We always give at least a couple days of down time after each show and really limit the intensity of workouts. During those heavier show periods I rarely jump at home. And when in doubt, we err on the side of caution and skip a show if we think the horse might not be 100% up to it.


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  8. #8
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    May. 22, 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jsalem View Post
    One of those top Jr Hunters is mine. He is regularly ridden 5-6 days per week. He jumps once or twice per week usually no more than 2'6" or 3'. He is ridden outside of the ring at least once per week.

    After a single week of showing he would typically be turned out Mon then trail ridden Tue. For 2 weeks of showing he'd rest 2 days, then trail ride. Around indoors he never jumped at home. After indoors, I think he had a full week off and then around Christmas he had a lot if turnout and no riding days.

    People are usually surprised that we jump so low at home and how few "practice" jumps we use. Our horse stayed very very sound and is currently leased to another rider.

    So there you go.....

    Agreed. This is very common where I have come from too.

    And so many of these horses love their jobs and the attention. And if retired and/or not in work they get depressed.

    And OMG your website has a horse in a grass pasture! How dare you!
    If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.


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  9. #9
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    Jun. 26, 2012
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    A few factors that really influence this:

    - location of the show/travel time
    - type of traveling (rig vs. plane)
    - divisions/classes shown in at show
    - duration of show



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jsalem View Post
    One of those top Jr Hunters is mine. He is regularly ridden 5-6 days per week. He jumps once or twice per week usually no more than 2'6" or 3'. He is ridden outside of the ring at least once per week.

    After a single week of showing he would typically be turned out Mon then trail ridden Tue. For 2 weeks of showing he'd rest 2 days, then trail ride. Around indoors he never jumped at home. After indoors, I think he had a full week off and then around Christmas he had a lot if turnout and no riding days.

    People are usually surprised that we jump so low at home and how few "practice" jumps we use. Our horse stayed very very sound and is currently leased to another rider.

    So there you go.....

    That sounds like what I was taught.

    Oh, and the better the trainer, the fewer/lower the practice jumps at home, IME.

    JSalem-- how does your schedule vary for the young'ns versus the BTDT old ones?

    I found that the older horse with some mileage on his body actually didn't like that traditional let-down of a month or two during winter. He cried and whined about the injustice of it all when it was time to get back in the gym in the spring. His favorite was TO, hand walking, trail riding and learning interesting new tricks during his "off" time.
    The armchair saddler
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  11. #11
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    Dec. 4, 2002
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    We do quite a few young horses because I really like developing them myself. (the made up ones end up out of the clients' price range too). The 5 year olds don't usually do classes during the week and them more on the weekend. They might do the PreGreens then just flat around on the weekend. At home, they frequently get week long breaks to goof off and let their muscles and joints chill out. It's not unheard of to tack a young horse up and then go for a long walk around the property. I want them to learn to accept "work" but I want them to look forward to it.

    I don't encourage a client to do a youngster unless it's a second mount. It's too much work and too much pressure on a young horse to train with the pro, then have to give riding lessons to the student. It just doesn't work well.

    The other thing we've come to like is a 2 week on, 2 week off schedule. Trainers, clients, grooms and horses all get 2 weeks to work and learn and then 2 weeks to rest and enjoy being home We don't stay on the road that much. We're really lucky with our area that we have a little venue close by (20 minutes), Conyers is an hour plus, then we can do 3 or 4 hours for an out of town adventure. Devon, pony Finals and Indoors are worked in there but around shows that are close to home. There is our 25 show year for a really serious, competitive client.


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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jsalem View Post
    It's not unheard of to tack a young horse up and then go for a long walk around the property. I want them to learn to accept "work" but I want them to look forward to it.
    That's good stuff. A seasoned WP trainer taught me about the "fire drill" treatment for a horse who was starting to hate work or worry. You dress 'em all up.... and then do nothing, putting them away. I modified this to include taking the horse to the ring, stripping off his tack and letting him roll or play some tag with me.

    The WP's idea was that he didn't want horses to be thinking ahead of what they were asked, but to accept and obey whatever came down the pike.

    The best show horse managers really get into managing the horse's mind as well as his body. That means thinking about all of his life, not just the part that's under saddle. IMO, it's not hard to do, but many, many miss it.
    The armchair saddler
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  13. #13
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    Dec. 21, 2008
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    Jacksonville, FL
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    Additionally, I think those junior hunters and such do a lot more than the pro horses/derby horses. As the article about the hunter spectacular said, Brunello rarely does classes outside the derbies, big classes. I think that's more common for the derby horses once they reach a certain level.

    Some of it too depends on your conditioning program and program at home. Going from 24-7 turnout to multiple weeks at a show in a tent is going to be a bigger change and effect than stall and turnout/handwalking at home and then going to a show.



  14. #14
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    Nov. 28, 2012
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    New York
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    My horse isn't top of the line but I ride a lot of top of the line sale horses to get the qualified for hunter finals etc. My horse gets ridden between 3-4 times a week whenever I have school and then he gets ridden every day I don't have school until he feels really good, after that we play around in the ring three or four days a week and then walk around the property one day he gets off one day is a dressage lesson sometimes with a 2' lesson added in and a 3' or so lesson. The sale horses I rode every day a client wasn't around mostly flatwork but sometimes I would go jump a single course on them or a series of gymnastics to keep them on their toes. All horses at the barn I'm at get daily t/o and the majority get Monday's off.
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