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  • conditioning/hillwork

    Quick question...

    I have a pretty decent sized hill (long and fairly steep) in the back pasture that I want to do some conditioning work on. Competing novice now but working on moving up to training by the end of the season. How would you plan to do the hillwork? Would you follow the trot/canter sets of 5" x3 (trot) and 2" x 2 (canter) with walk breaks in between or just go up and down the hill a certain amount of times with trot and canter?
    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    If I had a big hill to condition on, I would start by walking up the hill, then gradually moving up to trotting up the hill once a week. Depending on how long it takes you to get up the hill, maybe go up and down twice. I would keep my conditioning sets seperate and on flatter ground (I was doing 15 min trotting and 3x3min canters at training level with 2 min walks in between with my 15.2 OTTB). I also liked doing long slow trots (working up to about 30 min. with 1 walk break) on a dirt road once a week.


    • #3
      I have a hilly hay field that GPS's at 1/2 mile around the outside. I used to time my trots and canters, but now just use the track. I do twice around one direction at trot, then the other direction then back to the original direction at canter and back again. It is easier than timing and from years of timing I know approximately the times. If I decide to do my endurance work in the cattle fields, I use my watch.


      • #4
        How long and how steep? Long slow canters up hills are one of the best ways to condition without pounding the legs. Walk down unless you have really great turf - it's hard on the joints to trot or canter dowhill for any distance.

        I would start by walking and trotting - time how long he can trot- if he can easily do 1 minute ask him to do 1m 15seconds Walk for 45 seconds and back to trot. Build up until you are at the interval you want- since you are using hills it will be shorter than if you were on a flat road or track.

        The idea behind interval training whether on a hill or around a track is that the body is stressed, then allowed to rest but not completely - and then back to work.

        Trotting up a hill is going to be easier for him than walking actually - walking up hills is fabulous for conditioning but it's very hard for them.

        Add canter once he's comfortable trotting - and then don't worry too much about speed. Just before your competition you can ask him to move out a little but building his base fitness is long trots and slow canters.

        I love hills - they make it a lot easier to get them fit.

        Also once you've been doing it for a while you will get a feeling for how much you need to do and it will differ for different horses. My mare needs for Training what my old TB needed for prelim. She needs to canter a lot and he could trot most of the time and only canter a little.


        • #5
          Originally posted by CatchMeIfUCan View Post
          If I had a big hill to condition on, I would start by walking up the hill, then gradually moving up to trotting up the hill once a week. Depending on how long it takes you to get up the hill, maybe go up and down twice. I would keep my conditioning sets seperate and on flatter ground
          I agree. I have a long gradual hill at the back of the farm which I go up 1-2 times a week. I started walking, and now trot and canter. It takes about 10 minutes to walk up.

          I also do 3x3min canters (for Training) every other week in the hayfields, which are rolling, but generally flat. I started this season with gallops every week, but now alternate and make every other sunday a canter up the mountain a couple times and I get similar results without the same pounding.

          I did trots on the road in the winter but with the harder summer ground I opt out and just make sure to include lots of trotting in my weekly hacks, which always include a ride up the mountain and then lots of ups and downs once I get back there. The hills have been amazing for him. We used to board at a place that was pancake flat, and I always felt like he was just overall lacking. The hills have not only improved his fitness for xc (especially at hillier venues), but also his hind end strength for dressage and stadium.


          • #6
            I agree. Hillwork not only helps with xc stamina but definitely has helped my horse in the dressage ring. The more collected movements feel stronger and seem to take less effort.


            • #7
              Even the UL horses I used to condition started out the season WALKING up the hill. At the beginning of the season we would do 10 walks up and 2 trots. By the end we were doing mostly trots (10) but still a few walks and never more than 4 gallops. We were not using this to build wind though... We did (flat) gallop sets in the final few weeks before competition season started too.
              The rebel in the grey shirt