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Conditioning Question

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  • Conditioning Question

    I have a 4 year old mare I want to start LD's on this spring. She has been ridden 1/2 to 1 hour 5 days a week for the past two months (walk trot canter just training in an indoor). I'm going to start her outside next week (we still have snow!)
    What's a good program to get her going for a potential LD in the first part of May? Or maybe my question should be: should I start a 4 year old on LD's or perhaps novice rides ??? I have lots of questions.

  • #2
    This may be a stupid question, but has she been ridden out of the indoor much?? On actual trails?

    If I was starting a 4 year old, I would probably try something a little less competitive until 5. But, that is just me... I prefer to take it a bit slower with a young horse. The ones that I have had that were brought along slowly until 5 or 6 have held up much better than the ones that were started in moderate to hard work at 3 or 4. I like to have mine broke by 3 and then light, consistent riding (2-4 times a week usually less than an hour. Attention spans are not very long sometimes...) until 4-5 . Then the real work can begin. Of course every horse and situation can be different. My horses are trail and working horses and we might go to a little show once in a blue moon. I want them to last a long time and be sound and happy. We do lots of ground work and I pony a lot as well.

    I also want to feel secure on my young horse and prefer to get them as solid out in company, on the trail, as possible before going to compete. There are going to be enough nerves happening and I want be as prepared as possible so it is a good learning ride. Good Luck!!
    Just cause you move to Texas, doesn't mean you are a Texan. After all, if a cat puts her kittens in the oven, It doesn't make them Bisquits.


    • Original Poster

      She has been ridden outside most of her life, she's just in an indoor now due to the weather here in Minnesota. I've had her on a few trail rides away from home and been to some playdays away from home in the past few years. She's been ridden down the road by home last year a few times a week. Just bringing her along slow and showing her the sights. I thought this year we would go to some ld's, but I don't want to wreck her. I want to be riding her when she's 20! She's a big appy by the way.


      • #4
        I think that patience now will pay off later... Especially since you plan on riding this horse up to her 20s. There's no need to rush competing. If you're really itching to do an LD, ask around and see if anyone would let you ride their extra horse and just take yours along to get used to camping, lots of commotion, horses coming and going and so on. You can also practice vet check procedures if the vets have some downtime.

        There's lots of stuff to learn for you and to teach your horse before you start competing. I personally believe that 4 is a bit too young in this discipline, especially since you already want to attend a ride in four weeks and haven't had the opportunity to do any LSD work this season. Building a solid all-around base now (mental and physical) will really help your horse stay sound and healthy in the long run.

        Best of luck!


        • #5
          I don't start my horses under saddle until their 4 yr old year although they will have been ponied on trails as 2-3 yr olds if I own them at that stage. I spend that 4 yr old year doing putzy riding, taking them to see different things, mental training, very gradually strengthening those legs and joints. In the 5 yr old year I began to condition and will do CTRs and/or LDs in that year from early summer onward, still doing LSD work. No 50s until they are 6. Just my preference. Oh, the bigger they are the more weight those young legs have to tote around. Don't let size fool you.



          • Original Poster

            Looks like a playing around fun year!? Hanging out at some rides and showing her the sights...I was afraid of that...I'm so ready to go out and ride. I'm gonna have to borrow my friends horse, she has 40 or so to choose from!!
            Thanks for the input.


            • #7
              LD's ARE novice rides, assuming you don't get race-brain.

              However, I don't think I'd ask a 4-year old, 1st year distance horse for an LD after just 4-6 weeks of conditioning. I'd give it 3 months (minimum), then do an easy LD focused on training rather than racing. Better safe than sorry on those young legs and back!
              Training and campaigning Barb endurance horses at The Barb Wire.


              • #8
                My opinion, for what its worth is..

                Do a fun ride at the May ride -your horse has never been to ride camp, never been through vetting, and if you haven't either - its worth it to take the 12 miler and learn all this while still exposing your mare to the sometimes 'high action' involved around vet checks and horses coming in an out - especially if your trail is one where all distances are running, -which means you may take the chance of having some high milers galloping up your rear from time to time.

                Per regs, yes you can put a 4 year old in an LD, - I've done so myself, but its been a horse that has somewhat considerable more trail experience than what you are describing , along with more conditioning.

                I think of endurance the same as jumping - do I want to overface my horse and have an issue later - or I should I start em in xpole hunters for their first outing.
                Its all relative -.
                Originally posted by ExJumper
                Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by DianeS View Post
                  I have a 4 year old mare I want to start LD's on this spring. She has been ridden 1/2 to 1 hour 5 days a week for the past two months (walk trot canter just training in an indoor). I'm going to start her outside next week (we still have snow!)
                  What's a good program to get her going for a potential LD in the first part of May? Or maybe my question should be: should I start a 4 year old on LD's or perhaps novice rides ??? I have lots of questions.
                  Well so far everybody has been telling you to back off and go slow and no real answer to your question about conditioning.

                  The purpose of true conditioning is to build the horse up physically and mentally and to eventually determine when the horse is ready for an LD. You can/should start that asap with a plan similar to what you would do personally at a gym. Start short distance and slow speed like everyone has been saying and keep increasing the load in small steps. You do not increase distance and speed at the same time.

                  First off I would get a HRM GPS watch, it is a valuable tool for conditioning. Learn how to fit it to the horse and how to load the info into your computer. The data will help you to see if your horse is improving when you ride a similar course over and over. That particular course is what I call a "Test Effort Course". You ride lots of different areas to prevent boredom but you need to pick a roughly 2.5 mile section of trail or a loop or whatever and ride it every other week and get the horse familiar with it so he is not spooky because that will screw up the HR readings. It took me a month of wandering around to finally pick a decent route that has some hills and decent footing and that alone is good conditioning.

                  Warm the horse up first (15-20 minutes) before the test effort and then ride it at a conservative pace. Trot the flats and walk the hills. At the end you stop and jump off and check the time and wait to see how long it takes for the HR to drop to 60 and stay there. That time is called "recovery time".

                  In training my limit for my horse is 10 minutes. Anything over 10 minutes to recover and IMHO I have over ridden my horse. This is all done without special cooling and you will learn a great deal about reading your horse and how he is handling the work.

                  During all training, except the test effort, I try to keep the HR under 130 max. That means that on steeper hills I might have to walk the horse. You can read more about "Low Heart Rate Training" here http://www.aerc.org/HeartRateTraining.asp

                  That should get you started on a program to condition your horse.
                  Don Huston
                  "If you want a barefoot horse you are just gonna have to ride that critter barefoot."


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks for the conditioning information Fasterhorses.
                    I've come up with a plan to start with. I'm going to do novice rides this summer. they are a lot shorter and run like CT rides, which I don't like, but I thnk its what's best for my horse. I'm going to condition kind of on the plan like fasterhorses laid out.
                    CT really isn't my cup of tea I'd love to be able to do LD"S this year, but probably not what's best for the horse....