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Conditioning on a track, sets. - HALF mile, my bad

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  • Conditioning on a track, sets. - HALF mile, my bad

    Ok so I kept wondering why after reading some of the responses I was thinking your horses must have HUGE gallop strides. I'm a dork...the track is 1/2 mile, not 1/4. DUH. 1/4 track is what I used to run on in high school. Now I feel like a dumb@$$.

    So I'm trying to see what you folks would do with an accessible HALF mile track if you didn't have access to fields and hills to do canter/gallop sets on.

    Both of my guys are super fit right now, despite being restricted to the arena. You'll be happy to know we've been able to incorporate a trail ride every couple of weeks into our schedule, and in April we'll be able to go out more than that. However, the trails I am able to ride are not canter/gallop friendly, and there's really not many places we can safely go above a walk.

    I'm able to haul out to the above-mentioned track hopefully once a week, and I want to make the most of it. The horse I will be taking is my Arab/QH as we are planning a move to Training in May or June. We have not had any issues with fitness at Novice. I know sets aren't *really* necessary for Training, but I don't want to get to the end of our first XC round and run out of gas. He gets ridden three times a week by the girl who is half-leasing him. She does one lesson (1-1 1/4 hour generally) and then hauls him to Pony Club the other two rides. I ride him three times a week, generally. Sometimes I will ride him briefly in the AM, and she will ride him in the evening on her lesson day. We jump school once or twice a week. We did a short but fairly intense dressage school yesterday (He was being good so we just kept playing!) and he was barely sweaty under his girth.

    Just looking for ideas. TIA!
    Last edited by runNjump86; Mar. 20, 2013, 01:00 PM. Reason: fixing info
    runnjump86 Instagram

    Horse Junkies United guest blogger

  • #2
    IMHO, at this stage in your game and with this particular horse, I would stay away from conditioning. Get him too fit and he's going to drag you around the course like his tail is on fire, which is potentially more dangerous than him being a little tired by the end.


    • #3
      You will need to open up and gallop someplace, once or twice I should think, in the month before the event - the quarter mile is OK but not really big enough (I actually have a quarter mile track, so I know I have to really get rolling to get the Training level gallop speed, and then as soon a I do I hit a turn.)
      I think this horse is getting a TON of work. He should have the bottom. Just add a little speed for Training. For novice -- he's probably OK! However I don't know your horse or circumstances.
      I can ride one 20 minutes and get the heart rate up just on the flat with dressage -- so one person's hack is another person's hard work....hard to tell unless you're there in person...
      Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
      Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


      • Original Poster

        Good point retreadeventer. Tricky thing about online forums...advice being given sight unseen.

        Heinz, I took him out there tonight just to see what would happen, and I was honestly surprised. We walked on the buckle without any theatrics, he got a little hot at the trot but after being reminded once with a not-so-nice trot/halt when he ignored my half halt he was SUPER light and responsive. Our downward transitions came from flexing my fingers (kept the reins in a bridge), lifting my chest, and saying "whooooaa..." I was SHOCKED. Honestly. And after our first canter set he was once again calmly walking on the buckle.

        Amazing how far he (we) has/have come in a few months, let alone a year.

        I'm mostly looking to get better at timing, and being able to regulate his gallop. There for a while it was either a canter, or balls-to-the-wall, and I want to be able to comfortably find a happy medium.
        runnjump86 Instagram

        Horse Junkies United guest blogger


        • #5
          I think "being able to regulate a gallop" is a life long quest! With everything I ride!
          Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
          Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


          • #6
            A 1/4 mile track is OK for trotting and cantering, but I wouldn't do much "at speed" stuff on a track that small. My big pasture is about 450 meters (a little more than 1/4 mile) around the perimeter and it's OK for slow speeds but there just isn't enough room to open them up for more than 10-12 strides in that type of space.
            Click here before you buy.


            • #7
              I still say this horse does not NEED more fitness for your first Training. You've been reporting that he's dragging you around the novice courses at training+ speed and referencing bits like twisted wire snaffles for jumping - a little tiredness might be a good thing here. Your OP talked specifically about conditioning and doing canter/gallop sets, which I think are a bad idea for the horse you've described in your posts. Maybe once you get your feet wet at Training, making time will be a concern - but for your first event? Worry about going clean and getting around successfully and safely. Worrying about time can come later.


              • #8
                OP, I know this wasn't your actual question, but just in case I'll offer my advice. One big thing often not addressed with horses that drag you around, is that the rider has not learned/insisted upon riding the horse mostly on a soft contact and expecting the horse to maintain the speed it's been told to go.

                It sounds like you are on the right track (do one half-halt, if no response, halt and start again). The key is to force yourself as a rider to stay on a soft contact and not pull. If the horse speeds up, half-halt and then go back to soft reins and expect the horse to maintain its speed.

                I would be very conscious of this, as bridging the reins is generally the opposite of this method - you use the neck as a brace with your bridge and allow the horse to "pull against himself." I feel this should be used sparingly, as with a stronger bit, all you're going to get is a horse with a harder mouth.

                You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng


                • #9
                  I've used a 1/2 mile track to condition a hard to keep fit horse when our footing was too hard. You can be creative and use the opportunity to continue to work on his rideability.

                  Use whatever markers the track has (furlong poles, etc) and calculate out your times for various speeds, then work on maintaining those speeds all the way around, checking your time against your watch at each pole. For example, calculate how many seconds between poles for 350 mpm and then work to hit every pole right on time.

                  As others have mentioned, you may not need fitness, so don't overdue. This is the time to concentrate on your position, staying out of his face and just developing a steady rhythm.

                  Be creative and use your walk and trot warm up to do some leg yielding across the track and work on change of pace with in each gait.