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How long to go from winter flab to eventing fab?

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  • How long to go from winter flab to eventing fab?

    After a mostly sedentary winter turned out, with only the occasional short walking hack, how long until one should compete again (lower levels, BN-N)?

    This whole winter concept (and thus limited riding) is all new to me.

  • #2
    I would figure on 6-8 weeks-- it depends on how rusty you feel as much as the horse's fitness. I find that it takes me 3-4 lessons/ jump schools and an xc school (so usually a month) on top of how long it takes to get the horse fit enough and focused enough to start doing lessons in the first place.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Thanks!

      I'm looking at almost 3 months till the competition we might aim for. I know it won't be an "easy" course, but we've competed at that level all last season, and the horse absolutely knows his job inside and out (except for ditches if I don't actually RIDE, LOL). We have a 3 day clinic and a few other schooling or showing opportunities prior to then, but I'm not planning to push him too hard. Guess we'll see how his fitness progresses. I'm not so worried about his training/schooling as the actual fitness, but I've got tons of time to hack out and should have access to hills before then too.

      Comment


      • #4
        It depends on the horse. I have a middle aged OTTB that snaps back SO fast into shape (faster than me!), and an Appy who is never really "in shape".

        Also, just take your time. Trot some of x-country, don't push. Start riding and see what your horse's body is telling you.

        Comment


        • #5
          Also!

          There was a COTH member who had a great fitness program. At the time he would give it to you if you donated a dollar to cancer research.

          This was his info:

          http://www.floddenedgefarmequestriancentre.com

          Comment


          • #6
            For BN/N? And the horse has been turned out in a decent sized paddock? I tend to bring horses back slowly and conservatively and I'd still think you're more than generous in the amount of time. Honestly, they don't have to be - and you really don't want them to be - particularly "fit" at BN/N. I'd start yours back by spending a week or ten days walking under tack, then start light flat work and hacking (all weather dependent) and go from there. Unless your horse is a heavy draft type or one who really didn't move all winter when turned out, you're going to be more than fine.

            Comment


            • #7
              I tend to agree with GotSpots. My TBs apparently do aerobics in their stalls. That said, I like this article, which rather than a strict schedule, has you monitor the horse as you bring them back into work http://www.equisearch.com/article/ea...ack-work-17513

              and here is a schedule, but the BN/N horse doesn't really need to get to weeks 6-8 before competing. A more upper level horse or horse known to have real fitness issues might. http://greyhorsematters.blogspot.com...e-back-to.html
              OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!

              Comment


              • #8
                It greatly depends on how fit your horse was before the layoff, how fit has he ever been and his body/metabolism type. OTTB have a huge advantage in the fitness game because it is much, much easier to get a horse fit who has been very fit previously in his life. A TB type will also maintain fitness in turnout better than something with a slower/heavier body type.

                I've got a Trak in the same boat as yours and will be doing just as GotSpots suggested--a week to ten days hacking around the farm then another week to ten days flatwork and hacking then start some jump schools and we'll re-access where we are and what we need to do.

                Now if I could just get it to thaw out and dry up...

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by GotSpots View Post
                  For BN/N? And the horse has been turned out in a decent sized paddock? I tend to bring horses back slowly and conservatively and I'd still think you're more than generous in the amount of time. Honestly, they don't have to be - and you really don't want them to be - particularly "fit" at BN/N.
                  I most certainly do want mine fit for BN-N. By "fit", I mean I want a horse who finished xc and recovers quickly. I hate seeing out of shape horses pant their way around the course because of the notion that they don't need fitness to do lower levels. I don't think of "fit" as the raging hot upper level TB.. it's of course relative to the level.

                  Horse is a stock horse type, looks fat but was deceptively fit the last two seasons. He also looks like a plodder, so I was very pleased when my coach rode him xc and said that he is WAY more sensitive and WAY more fit than she had thought! He's been out on a half acre all winter sharing a fence line with a buddy.... I do catch them trotting up and back on occasion, but he's mostly pretty sedentary.

                  I guess we'll see as he comes back into shape how it goes. Thanks for all the responses

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Even walking in the snow keeps them pretty fit.

                    Gotspot is just pointing out that you do not need fitness work on really most any horse for BN/N. They just need to be riding fit. By that I mean in consistent work. For the easy to get fit TB...that may be not even need consistent work.

                    For what you described (stock horse type who knows his job), if he is working 5 days a week (a few 4 day weeks may be fine)...without any physical issues (including being very overweight), you should easily have him fit enough for BN/N in 6-8 weeks (8 weeks being safest). Just ease him back into it. You do not need canter sets or even serious trot sets (*I* tend to need them for myself). You just need to work him back up to consistent solid 30-45 min. rides with a few longer hacks out on your hills....and he should be fit enough. If not...they you are possibly not working him hard enough on your regular rides.


                    The biggest issue for most of us is when will winter end and we can start riding consistently again....the diehards will start when most of the rest of us (me included) just roll over and sleep in our warm beds that extra hour until the weather is nice.
                    ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by bornfreenowexpensive View Post
                      Even walking in the snow keeps them pretty fit.

                      Gotspot is just pointing out that you do not need fitness work on really most any horse for BN/N. They just need to be riding fit. By that I mean in consistent work. For the easy to get fit TB...that may be not even need consistent work.

                      For what you described (stock horse type who knows his job), if he is working 5 days a week (a few 4 day weeks may be fine)...without any physical issues (including being very overweight), you should easily have him fit enough for BN/N in 6-8 weeks (8 weeks being safest). Just ease him back into it. You do not need canter sets or even serious trot sets (*I* tend to need them for myself). You just need to work him back up to consistent solid 30-45 min. rides with a few longer hacks out on your hills....and he should be fit enough. If not...they you are possibly not working him hard enough on your regular rides.


                      The biggest issue for most of us is when will winter end and we can start riding consistently again....the diehards will start when most of the rest of us (me included) just roll over and sleep in our warm beds that extra hour until the weather is nice.
                      I had half my ring plowed and there's just a few patches of frozen snow left. I'm hoping to have at least the track of a 20-25m circle bare this week, and the next town has an indoor with drop ins on the weekend. My roads are bare, so I'm at least just going up and down the road until I can do more I won't be able to do any "work" for a few weeks yet, but I can at least get some cardio fitness going....

                      This is my first real winter, and even though I know it's been an easy one for us (west coast), I've gone a little batty!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by normandy_shores View Post
                        I had half my ring plowed and there's just a few patches of frozen snow left. I'm hoping to have at least the track of a 20-25m circle bare this week, and the next town has an indoor with drop ins on the weekend. My roads are bare, so I'm at least just going up and down the road until I can do more I won't be able to do any "work" for a few weeks yet, but I can at least get some cardio fitness going....

                        This is my first real winter, and even though I know it's been an easy one for us (west coast), I've gone a little batty!
                        Just walking on the roads and walking through snow will but a HUGE base on them. It will get them "fitter" than you think it would. Big issue is typically it get's them "fit" but not always rideable

                        Just bundle up and get him walking. That will put on a lot of your base.

                        If you can trailer out to an indoor once a week....that can help with the ridability!
                        ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by bornfreenowexpensive View Post
                          Just walking on the roads and walking through snow will but a HUGE base on them. It will get them "fitter" than you think it would. Big issue is typically it get's them "fit" but not always rideable

                          Just bundle up and get him walking. That will put on a lot of your base.

                          If you can trailer out to an indoor once a week....that can help with the ridability!
                          We've got positive temps, I'm down to just a long sleeve shirt and winter breeches during the sunny parts of the day! This horse is so reliable.. even when super fit I can take him to shows after several days off and he just does his job (use the warm up day as easy to get him going).

                          Our trip to the indoor yesterday was his first outing in 6 months, besides getting on bareback and walking around the farm. He was an absolute saint His field, however, has a plowed path down to the hayfeeder and they trample paths in the snow so they never have to walk through deep snow, so I fear we've lost out on that fitness opportunity

                          I'm just excited it's time to ride again. He's sound, the weather is nice, and my ring is *Almost* thawed....

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            So, I am the queen of the plus-sized horse brigade and have fitted up several non-Tbs for BN-T (and a little bit beyond).
                            All of this advice is good and I totally agree that you have plenty of time.
                            But if you want a sort of "gauge" to use once you are, say, a month out from your first competition...I have found that even for the BIG horses who have NEVER been super fit (and for whom I DO conditioning work - in one case horse had no idea how to handle terrain and open space, so it's not just for fitness) are ready to cruise around novice if I can do 3 5 minute trot sets with 2 min walk breaks followed by 3 3 minute canter sets (not gallop, just a nice cruise) with 2 min walk breaks.
                            If that's easily done and willingly offered, you are good to go. If there is heaving, sighing, trying to quit...then i'd pump it up a bit in that last month.
                            The big man -- my lost prince

                            The little brother, now my main man

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by asterix View Post
                              So, I am the queen of the plus-sized horse brigade and have fitted up several non-Tbs for BN-T (and a little bit beyond).
                              All of this advice is good and I totally agree that you have plenty of time.
                              But if you want a sort of "gauge" to use once you are, say, a month out from your first competition...I have found that even for the BIG horses who have NEVER been super fit (and for whom I DO conditioning work - in one case horse had no idea how to handle terrain and open space, so it's not just for fitness) are ready to cruise around novice if I can do 3 5 minute trot sets with 2 min walk breaks followed by 3 3 minute canter sets (not gallop, just a nice cruise) with 2 min walk breaks.
                              If that's easily done and willingly offered, you are good to go. If there is heaving, sighing, trying to quit...then i'd pump it up a bit in that last month.
                              I really appreciate all the feedback, and I'm glad to hear my timeline is reasonable with some breathing room. I worry because my horse is so willing and knows his job pretty thoroughly, I wouldn't want to take advantage of that if he's not physical fit enough. I only worry because he's had the fall/winter off which is new to both of us.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                And asterix, I was just admiring the photos of your horses in your signature... woweee! Gorgeous!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Why thank you! I of course think they are princes
                                  The big man, now 20, came to me as a 9 year old 17.2h WB dressage refugee. He had done some eventing at novice for his career change, and one training where he somewhat spectacularly ran out of steam. Turned out his rider had done no conditioning work. He was so new to being out and about that a walk in the field would result in nicks on multiple legs due to just not knowing where his feet were.

                                  About 18 months after I got him he was one of the fittest horses at his Training 3 day.

                                  It was a lot of work that first time...so I come by this experience honestly!
                                  The big man -- my lost prince

                                  The little brother, now my main man

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by asterix View Post
                                    But if you want a sort of "gauge" to use once you are, say, a month out from your first competition...I have found that even for the BIG horses who have NEVER been super fit (and for whom I DO conditioning work - in one case horse had no idea how to handle terrain and open space, so it's not just for fitness) are ready to cruise around novice if I can do 3 5 minute trot sets with 2 min walk breaks followed by 3 3 minute canter sets (not gallop, just a nice cruise) with 2 min walk breaks.
                                    If that's easily done and willingly offered, you are good to go. If there is heaving, sighing, trying to quit...then i'd pump it up a bit in that last month.
                                    To put this in perspective the above trot sets but with 3x5 canters (instead of 3x3s) is getting very close to what a TB horse needs to start a season at prelim. So while I don't disagree with asterix in this instance, I don't think this is generally good information for the more typically TB influenced horses in eventing.

                                    I would suggest that if you want to know where your BN/N horse is fitness-wise I wouldn't bother with a whole day of conditioning sets I'd just go canter for 5-6 minutes then put a watch on the recovery. Complete recovery ought to take less than 10 minutes. If it's more than 10 minutes and your horse has been in regular work for 2-3 months then you might be one of the few that needs to do specific work to build conditioning for BN/N. At that point would I go to asterix's trot sets and canter/gallop sets and build from there.

                                    Years ago some events would give "best conditioned" awards at the lower levels. Giving an award for the most unnecessary wear and tear milage put on a horse made me grind my teeth.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Yes, subk, I agree about using one good canter set plus recovery as a gauge.
                                      Full TBs are obviously a totally different story and once the OP has done this work and seen how her horse responds she'll know where he sits on the Asterix-->TB scale

                                      and i agree on the 3x5 for prelim - my regimen has always been 3x3 for novice, 3x4 for training, and 3x5 for prelim.

                                      My young fellow is Perch/TB and bears no relationship to the WB or a previous draft cross. He is fizzy and forward and seems to have no bottom. I'll be interested to see how he does as he progresses in terms of structured fitness.
                                      The big man -- my lost prince

                                      The little brother, now my main man

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by asterix View Post
                                        and i agree on the 3x5 for prelim - my regimen has always been 3x3 for novice, 3x4 for training, and 3x5 for prelim.
                                        It's such a range, indeed! My full TB was long format 3-day fit (and near enough to popping out of his skin) doing 3x5s; my Advanced horse (3/4 TB) was doing no more than 3x6 and hill work when he was fit for a CCI***.

                                        My point is that I see a lot of horses who have either been too drilled with trot sets etc to be rideable and fun at the lower levels or get wear-and-tear injuries that prevent them from having longer careers. And that the majority of horses just don't need that much fitness to go around a BN/N level course - it's not a major test (as the rules say, it's an "introduction"), and it should be well within the capacity of most horses who are in regular work to go have a nice canter around. Of course there are horses who need more work to be comfortable at that level - like all of us, horses are individuals - but I'm always hesitant when folks ask about true "fitness" work for a BN/N horse because it so often ends up being far more than the horse needs or is appropriate. I'd far rather see many of these horses do long slow walks and hacks to strengthen soft tissue and build a base than to be doing trot sets.

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