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Out of Condition -- Wanting to show in Feb

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  • Out of Condition -- Wanting to show in Feb

    My jumper mare has been out of regular work since fall. Actually, all of my horses have been on a winter holiday! I typtically ride them on and off through winter, just very easy stuff. Then I pick back up in spring. However, this year there are a few nice winter shows that I would be interested in going to.

    What do you recommend as far as conditioning my mare to get ready for, say, a February show? Any suggestions on a routine to get her ready? It is a low-key schooling show. Jumps no higher than 3'. She's shown 3'6" in the past.

    Or should I just scrap this and wait till spring?

    Thanks in advance.
    “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
    ¯ Oscar Wilde

  • #2
    id start riding or longing at least 2 -3 times a week on the flat for 15 to 20 minutes -- check how hard shes blowing, after 2 weeks you could probably do 30 minutes on the flat and work in some lower jumps.. she should be resaonalby fit if you are pretty ambitious by then.


    • #3
      How soon?

      How soon in Feb? Do you at least have 30-45 days? Has your horse been at least getting regular turnout? And you are not going to try and do anything more than your horse has done before? you are just going to try and show at a level you have attained already? How often can you school your horse?

      A lot of factors... should work

      You will have to keep us updated... I hope it works out and you can!


      • Original Poster

        Yes, she's shown level 3 jumpers. I'm just wanting to do a lower schooling show. She's just not been working much over winter. She's turned out all day, every day. In at night.

        The show is February 27-28.

        The weather here is just turning. So today I will get her out for the first time in about 3 weeks. We'll start slowly. Walk/Trot most likely.

        “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
        ¯ Oscar Wilde


        • #5
          Depends on a lot of factors. I have some horses I would take without worrying much about the conditioning and others that I would need more time to really get back into shape.

          So the first factor to consider is whether your horse is one who stays pretty fit regardless of riding schedule or if she's one who goes "soft" with several weeks off. If she's been in an irregular but consistent (meaning ridden as much as weather or other factors allow, but not stall-bound for 12 weeks) program then I wouldn't bother with starting back at walk-trot only. I usually take my horses who have had a few weeks off (at the tail end of the hit-or-miss weather of winter) and start them with a 15-20 minute ride with little to no collection work, and mostly just forward trotting and galloping sets. I'll usually increase the workload a little over each day and start jumping little jumps as an extension of flatwork a week or two in, with no real coursing for 3 weeks or so.

          The second factor I'd consider is whether the classes you'll be asking her to do will be physically challenging for her or not. I'd take my un-fit-ish AO Jumper mare to a show and pop her in some 3'6" classes for a day or two without worrying too much about her condition (assuming, of course, that she'd been regularly ridden and jumped at least a few times in the 3-4 weeks prior). I'd hesitate before doing the same with my mare who does the 3'6". So my point is that if the classes you'll be doing are physically (and mentally) easy for your horse, then I wouldn't be terribly concerned about being in tip top shape.

          And finally, I'd consider the show details. I would be inclined to take it easy with no more than one or two classes on the first day (even if one was a low warm up) and same on the second day. And I'd be more conservative if the footing was anything less than perfect.

          But the bottom line is that if you're taking an average-fitness-level horse to a show with easy fences/courses/heights, and only showing for two days, I don't see that as unreasonable at all. I do little one-day jumper schooling shows through the winter and take my two big jumpers regardless of riding schedule, and don't hesitate to put them in the 4'3" class even if we haven't jumped up all winter. 1 day of showing doesn't bother me in the least (I'm more concerned about the mental effects of day 1). It's day two when the horse is sore from using muscles they haven't used in a while that would concern me more (more likely to take a wrong step or compensate for body soreness), and I would certainly be inclined to bute that night (within legal limits, of course), in the same way that I pop aspirin like crazy the night after the shows

          Anyhow, that's my wordy response when all I really mean to say is, "assuming everything's normal, you should have plenty of time to do some little winter shows."
          Flying F Sport Horses
          Horses in the NW


          • Original Poster

            Thanks for the input. The mare is EASY to work, which is good and never "complains" about anything. I think we'll be fine with what I'm planning to show. So, I'll just get riding her this afternoon!
            “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
            ¯ Oscar Wilde


            • #7
              I say you should go start now, and whether you deem her ready for the feb shows or not, you've gotten some extra training in before the spring season this year!


              • Original Poster

                Sounds like a plan. Heading out right now to go ride. It's finally warm enough. Heatwave of 50º right now!
                “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
                ¯ Oscar Wilde