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How short of a ride is too short to be useful?

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  • How short of a ride is too short to be useful?

    Its winter. Its always dark. It's gotten pretty cold. I'm pretty tired, but my horses need to stay in shape. Not super great shape or anything, but I'd like to keep them moving at least 4 days a week to try to maintain fitness as best as we can through the winter.

    So. How short is too short to be useful?


  • #2
    Good q, I've wondered this myself.. It depends on your goals, I guess. I'd say any sort of length of time moving around is positive for a stalled horse, but probably wont make a difference fitness wise if it's less than 15 minutes..

    In the winter I usually ride for 15-30m, rarely more than 45. Most of it is walking around the farm, hacking on slight hills and stuff. They stay in reasonable shape this way, coming off of the end of the season. I truck in once or twice a week to an indoor to do W/T/C, and I don't see a loss of fitness there. Then they get a 1-2 month break around Dec-January depending on the weather, and start back to work with an easy leg up in February/March weather allowing, and are fit enough for W/T/C 1 hour lesson within 5 weeks... BUT.. they are outside 24/7, so I only need to "leg up" their cardio, not their soft tissue. They are all LL eventers.

    That being said there are days I get on and decide I'm done in five minutes because it's cold! My TBs never act like they missed a day or anything when I ride the next day.
    AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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    • #3
      I find that for my guys who are turned out 24/7, 15-20 minutes of basic flatwork or hacking 5 days a week is generally enough for basic fitness/ manners so that they can go to an occasional low-key jump lesson or schooling dressage show.

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      • #4
        You can do a full workout in 15 minutes including warm up and a free walk.

        It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.
        It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

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        • #5
          I notice mine don't move around much outside, despite being turned out in a big group on 10+ acres. So, I figure any time I can create constant forward movement, even at a walk, it's an improvement over standing in one place eating hay. And, they're all at least middle aged and creaky, so in order for them to actually work (I use that term very loosely) they need 15-20 minutes to really warm up. So, some nights I hop on bareback in Carhartts and mud boots and walk for 20 minutes or so while talking to a friend, and that's their work for the day. We call it indoor trail riding.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by SuzieQNutter View Post
            You can do a full workout in 15 minutes including warm up and a free walk.

            It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.
            Not in the winter where I live. Okay, not if you have any degree of consideration for your horse.

            Which is not saying that I don't ride for 10-15 minutes some days.

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            • #7
              Nothing is too short from the horses perspective.
              Their lives are pretty boring and getting out and interacting with you is the most stimulating part of their day.
              Being fed is the most satisfying.
              3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375 10582097494459230781640628620899862803482534211706 79821480865132823066470938446095505822317253594081 284811174502841027019385.....

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              • #8
                I do 20-minute rides often and I think they do well with that.

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                • #9
                  for me, anything less than 30 minutes is probably not productive, but I do 15 minutes of walking (the last 5 usually involve contact, halt/walk transitions) so that eats up a chunk of time. Our normal "light" work is 45 minutes and fitness days or days that involve a few trot sets are 60 minutes.

                  That said, if I only had 15-20 minutes, I would hop on and ride (instead of hitch up, because it takes longer) because something is better than nothing, and you can do plenty of mentally and physically challenging work at the walk. But if I only had 15-20 minutes, I would have to find a different sport!
                  Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

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                  • #10
                    No ride is too short . You can work on many things for short bursts and be productive.

                    Fitness may not be achieved depending on how long you ride but if the horse is not stalled all day they should keep up some fitness just being out and goofing off all day.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by RedHorses View Post

                      Not in the winter where I live. Okay, not if you have any degree of consideration for your horse.

                      Which is not saying that I don't ride for 10-15 minutes some days.
                      I'm not sure what you mean?
                      http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

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                      • #12
                        I've saddled up just to ride for 10 minutes. I'm not sure how much it benefits the horse, but it makes a great difference to my mental health.
                        "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
                        that's even remotely true."

                        Homer Simpson

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RedHorses View Post

                          Not in the winter where I live. Okay, not if you have any degree of consideration for your horse.

                          Which is not saying that I don't ride for 10-15 minutes some days.
                          This has to do with the mental, not just the physical.
                          It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by enjoytheride View Post

                            I'm not sure what you mean?
                            In many places, the weather is so cold that a warm up and cool down will take 15 min (or more) on their own.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by wannabedvm View Post

                              In many places, the weather is so cold that a warm up and cool down will take 15 min (or more) on their own.
                              enjoytheride - exactly this. To do a full WTC, free walk workout in 15 minutes as SuzieQNutter suggested in her first post is not fair or healthy for the horse when it gets that cold here. There comes a point at which I am warming up my horse and wondering if he'll be ready to trot before I'm too cold to continue. Posting trot really helps to warm me up if I'm not too cold by then.

                              I had a kind of extreme case of needing a long winter warm up - the horse would appear lame if I trotted him too soon, and he would not be able to work out of it. Given enough walk he was just fine at faster gaits. His minimum winter warm up time was 20min and got longer as it got colder.
                              ​​​​​
                              However I agree with SuzieQ's second post that it is possible to do a full walk, mental work with free walk in 15min - and at those temperatures 15min may be the rider's limit!

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by RedHorses View Post

                                enjoytheride - exactly this. To do a full WTC, free walk workout in 15 minutes as SuzieQNutter suggested in her first post is not fair or healthy for the horse when it gets that cold here. There comes a point at which I am warming up my horse and wondering if he'll be ready to trot before I'm too cold to continue. Posting trot really helps to warm me up if I'm not too cold by then.

                                I had a kind of extreme case of needing a long winter warm up - the horse would appear lame if I trotted him too soon, and he would not be able to work out of it. Given enough walk he was just fine at faster gaits. His minimum winter warm up time was 20min and got longer as it got colder.
                                ​​​​​
                                However I agree with SuzieQ's second post that it is possible to do a full walk, mental work with free walk in 15min - and at those temperatures 15min may be the rider's limit!
                                Did I say walk. I will go and edit it if I did. I meant a 15 minute full work out, including trot and canter and lateral work with a warm up and warm down. I have never ridden in snow, so I have not experienced those temperatures.

                                Nope I did not edit. I said a full work out including walk on a free rein, not only walk on a free rein. I am in Australia and we do not get snow here. So maybe I should have added in Australia to my post!
                                It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

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                                • #17
                                  15 to 20 minutes walk for warm up is my rule - in any weather and no matter if the horse was in the stall or pasture. Rest depends on so many things, but at least a little trot to stretch.

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Salo View Post
                                    15 to 20 minutes walk for warm up is my rule - in any weather and no matter if the horse was in the stall or pasture. Rest depends on so many things, but at least a little trot to stretch.
                                    Maybe if kept in a stable, but mine are out 24/7 so I do not feel like they need 15 minutes of walk to warm up especially when it is to so hot here at the moment.

                                    It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by SuzieQNutter View Post

                                      Maybe if kept in a stable, but mine are out 24/7 so I do not feel like they need 15 minutes of walk to warm up especially when it is to so hot here at the moment.
                                      Cold makes a big difference. I can't imagine going out and running when it's -10F out without a good warmup, so I wouldn't do it for my horses.

                                      But, if a horse is stalled it would still be worth doing nothing but walking for 15-30 minutes just to get them out and moving. Or, even if they are turned out and the weather is cold. Working until they are sweaty is probably worse than just walking under saddle unless you have time to really make sure they are dry.

                                      That said, if horses have turn out and it's -10F.....no way would I ride.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Short rides are great as long as they are good. With sketchy youngsters or reschools I think they are really great. Rarely time for the horse to get into trouble because it is bored or something. I have used these to great effect and then was able to go on to longer, very successful rides later. Cant't do much for actual fitness but loosening and stretching is always helpful. With some of then, just going through the process and having a pleasant outcome is worth its weight in gold!

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