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Winter Vacation

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  • Winter Vacation

    I'd love to discuss and hear opinions on how much vacation you give your horses after the season is over. I think it's dependent on what area you live in and what level you are running.

    For me personally, I'm on the fence.
    I have a young horse who had a very light fall season as far as competing. I wanted to spend more funds training and prepping for a move-up to Preliminary. (Which she made and rocked last weekend. Happy with that plan.) I'm trying to decide whether now I give her a long vacation to let down, or continue spending some time doing homework and dressage lessons, but cut down on the conditioning work. My plan would be to run our first event back mid-January.

    For me personally, while I know there are now events in Area III during the summer, my horses have two competition breaks. June/July and then December/January.

    She's not the type of horse I can pull shoes off of. The ground is still tough and rocky. I'm slightly concerned that a complete vacation may cause problems for our barn girls when she becomes a dragon on vacation. I'd just love to hear opinions, especially considering that she's young and not yet an upper-level horse but reached the point of fitness she could have run a CCI 1*.
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  • #2
    Mine (training level) doesn't get a complete vacation, but things change. There is a lot more trail riding. Jumping is reduced to once every two weeks at a Pony Club lesson. Dressage 2-3 times a week. I will pull her shoes soon and leave them off until March, but she is okay to work barefoot. If the weather is bad or I'm too busy, she might get a whole week or more off. I don't really worry too much about keeping on any kind of schedule until March.


    • #3
      Mostly my horse's vacation is for me. I get super busy at work during the holidays so she will get two weeks off, I'll ride for a week, two weeks off, ride for a few weeks, etc. If the temps drop into the teens she's on vacation until it warms up and I tend to take fewer lessons in the winter.


      • #4
        I keep mine hacking as long as the footing stays good. I also keep up a weekly dressage lesson with the occasional missed week every now and then due to holidays/conferences/weather. I typically fox hunt once every week or two, but my schedule hasn't been working out this year . I will take a couple of jump lessons before my trainer heads south, but I keep the jumping light. I'll start picking it back up around February with some clinics and jumper shows.

        Otherwise I let the weather dictate the time off. I also don't like riding when it's in the low 20s or colder. And we occasionally will get a snow that sticks around for a couple of weeks (or even longer) which limits me to road hacking.


        • #5
          When my older horse was competing we would do a winding down (let's hope that phrase doesn't get me banned ) after the last show and cut out the conditioning and jumping. I'd hunt a time or two and flat. Then she'd get a 3 week Christmas vacation to cover me packing, travelling, unpacking. Any more and it seemed harder for her to get going again. Never pulled shoes- terrible feet in play here! Then we'd resume light work, stopping whenever the weather got bad.

          Sounds like you might have the kind of horse who needs a hacking vacation.


          • #6
            I just gave mine most of 3 weeks off with only a couple walking hacks. We're starting back into long slow miles fitness now going into the cold season. I'm going to use it for walking fitness and slow trot hill work to re-strengthen her stifles by the time the end of February rolls around I'll be hoping to add in road work plus field work.

            I'm looking to have a nice solid base for spring without grinding in the outdoor arena. We'll see if/how mother nature complies.
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            • #7
              I have a young horse who finished a very busy season with a Training move up. We have a very definite May to October season but I'm not in a situation where a full vacation is feasible. I board so she is turned out for 4 hours - I don't think it is fun or fair for her to spend the other 20 in her stall so I always go out and do something with her. She will stay in work (with shoes on but no traveling, less stress and more days off. December and January will be light then we will start playing around at some local indoor h/j shows in Feb & March to start getting ready for the next season.


              • #8
                Both my horses and I enjoy whipping-in for a couple of local hunts - the hazy, hot and humid July and Aug is their off-season.


                • #9
                  I have a 5 year old mare that I competed in September, October and November, but only at BN.. Prepping for our shows during that time included riding 6 days a week, jumping up to two times a week and one XC school a month at the most. I did debate giving her some time off after our last event (11/17), but decided against it. Our dressage tests resemble me riding a camel, so I thought the winter would be a good time to work on that.

                  hile I'm still riding though, it's not nearly as much as we were doing when we were showing though. Now I ride 5 days a week, and jump 1 day a week at most. We are doing a "dressage bootcamp" this winter, as she really needs to learn how to properly engage her hind end and become stronger in her top line. Also, one of those rides is a lunge lesson where I get to work just on my position. If she gets ridden a 6th day a week, it would be a light hack or a trail ride. We will likely have this schedule December and January. Do our first XC school in February and then first event beginning of March or April (depends on which one my coach decides to go to).

                  All that being said, I live in California where our winters are very mild. While 40 degrees is FREEZING to me, I realize that's a nice winter day in other parts of the US!
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