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Being aware of your horse's training rythms

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  • Being aware of your horse's training rythms

    I am stealing this idea from Catherine Haddad's training tip from her recent blog post. But I want to put a different spin on it and instead of talking about what day is the horse better- but what time of the day- and how do you work that for training.

    I have noticed that my best rides are normally early in the morning, about 8am after his breakfast...or late evening, between 6 and 9 pm. Anything between 11am and 4pm ends up usually being an irritating ride (on both our parts) Not coincidentally, this is because all of these times are well after feeding times.

    How do you work this at a horse show? When you don't really know when your rides are going to be until 2 days before the show and you really don't want to throw your horse off of his regular schedule for 2 days but you still need your horse to be focused on you not on his belly?
    "I'm holding out for the $100,000 Crossrail Classic in 2012." --mem
    "With all due respect.. may I suggest you take up Croquet?" --belambi
    Proud Member of the Opinionated Redhead Club!

  • #2
    Me, I ride when it's convenient for me, and I focus on trying to get the best out of my horse. That's a daily thing. In this heat, sometimes I only ride in the morning or evening, but that's more a safety thing. The rest of the year I ride when it's convenient.

    Past that, I make sure my horse is rested coming into a show, and if there is something like needing to eat before I ride, then by all means give a snack before you tack up! Some need to be lunged, some need to be stretched, some need a long walking warmup or a shorter straight-to-canter warmup. So give him the snack and let him get over it.


    • #3
      I try to avoid an over regimented lifestyle for my horses precisely because being married to a routine makes it harder on them when the the routine changes. (Well that and I hate living on a schedule!) Nothing is more routine changing than what we ask of our horses when we travel and show. That might mean you sacrifice timing for the best possible school just so you can mix things up a bit.

      A few years ago there was a very big name event rider who had been praised in a large publication for what a great lifestyle she provided of 24/7 turnout in a pristine setting for her upper level event horses. She took two of them to England for a stay and both of the horses managed to have major bouts of colic. Suddenly that low/no stress care at home might have turned out to be a big a problem when it could no longer be provided.

      By all means I'd second adding a snack when needed! You might even do it a few times at home.


      • Original Poster

        What kind of a snack? A flake of alfalfa? feed?
        "I'm holding out for the $100,000 Crossrail Classic in 2012." --mem
        "With all due respect.. may I suggest you take up Croquet?" --belambi
        Proud Member of the Opinionated Redhead Club!


        • #5
          Depends on the season. If it is extremely hot out I might break up their grain and/or protien (alfalfa) into three or four servings throughout the day/evening.

          I'll feed 1/2 of breakfast two hours early and then throw the rest out for lunch.

          Stuff like that.

          If I have an extra hard workout and it isn't really hot out, I'll toss some oats in the bucket after I have untacked and cooled out. Then feed dinner later.

          ETA: the horse I'm working right now gets 1 Cup of Pennfield Cool'N'Lite twice a day and 1/2 flake of alfalfa once a day. Plus free feed timothy. I WILL break up his 2 Cup/day serving and his 1/2 flake of alfalfa. He is a 14 1/2 hh Welsh Cob, weight approx. 1000/1100 lbs.. He is in light schooling and 24/7 turnout on a quarter acre.

          One 15hh horse I was using in long distance riding was up to 9 gallons of 12% sweet feed twice a day, three flakes of alfalfa and all the hay she could eat. I was always breaking her feed up. Main thing with her was to cut back to half that on her days off (prevent tying up). Then right back up to the full amount.

          Etc., etc., ...


          • #6
            I ride 80% of the time in the morning between 9-11, after my horse has had breakfast and a few hours of turnout. I do ride in the evening sometimes, but generally the only time my horse misbehaves is when I ride him during feeding times. He gets super cranky when the other horses are eating without him or if he's hungry. We are both pretty set in our routine, but surprisingly I have no problems riding him at shows at odd hours. My horse knows he's at a show and that all bets on the routine are off and he seems to manage very well. I always keep hay in front of him so he doesn't get hungry and he gets much more one-on-one time with me and lots of pampering. He just follows my lead. The only problem I've experienced is when I entered 3 classes/day our first time at 3rd Level and they were spread out throughout both days. By the last day/ride, my horse was pretty tired - both physically and mentally - and so I only enter 2 classes now. I think every horse is different and you just have to learn how to manage them.
            Most friendships in the horse world are just an opinion away from doom.


            • #7
              My horse has to watch the feed truck drive by most times we ride. I usually come about feeding time since I work and he actually probably thinks now that feeding time is after her gets worked so the sooner thats done lol...

              I ride when I ride. Just like at the shows whenever my trainer has time, I hop on, and that could be 10 at night, three in the morning, or six in the afternoon (at the shows I mean).
              ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


              • #8
                I have 2 ideas here. I had a couple of horses at one farm that used to be much better right after feeding. I always figured that was because they got a bit of a "sugar low" - like when you eat a big meal and all you want after is a nap and 2) I think one's tummy hurt without a bit of food in it to settle. This farm fed quite far apart and he generally had to wait a long time between meals.

                I dealt with it by giving them a nice snack before work (alfalfa can help settle the tummy, or an easy feed if you don't use that) and had them looked at for ulcers as well, just to rule it out.
                Shop online at


                • #9
                  I almost always ride at dinner time. My horse is used to it, the rest of the barn getting fed while we are working. He gets to hand graze while cooling out after a ride, and I always give him at least 1/2 flake of hay before we work.

                  I don't ever hesitate to ride him at other times of the day either-before breakfast, after breakfast, mid day, early afternoon-it's all about my schedule and he can adapt. The one thing that never changes is he gets hay before and grass after. He really can't tell time, so there is no issue.

                  I do find that he has more energy in the morning or evening and is lazier in the afternoon and after breakfast-these are the times he likes to have a little snooze He can still step it up and go to work, nap time will wait!!!


                  • #10
                    Mine don't get enough hard grain for it to matter... and have no idea what a 'schedule' is. They are on free choice hay or forage, and then get concentrates w/ vits/mins once a day.

                    When we travel, Himself usually stays on the trailer since he's a boy. I will usually put a fresh bucket of beet pulp, with oil and some concentrates, probiotics and sometimes electrolytes in it, in front of him once we stop.

                    I really do think free choice forage (or as close as humanly possible) makes it far easier to be casual in schedule.

                    I also don't wait after feeding to ride, or wait after riding to feed. He's not getting enough hard feed to even think about worrying about that... and once you've seen how working horses (ranch/cattle work) or distance/endurance horses treat food & water during an event, you can really change your mind from how most 'english' horses are kept.
                    InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

                    Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


                    • #11
                      I notice the biggest difference in attitude not related to feeding but to turnout schedules. If they have to be in overnight, then held in for an early morning lesson, one is MAD that his pals went out without him and he's just a bear to work. The other loves his early morning workouts, and doesn't care much that the other guys are out. If they're out overnight and I bring them in for an early morning lesson - ho hum. I've actually kept one of mine in overnight on purpose so he'd have a little more go during his early morning ride. The other, I turn out overnight on purpose so he's rideable!