Friday, September 15, 2017

riding trot sets, when all of a sudden....

Operation: Get Charlie Fit is officially running full speed ahead. God willing and the creek don't rise, we'll get this big ol' TB's baseline condition improved enough so that he can stop being such a puss about the rigors of living as an amateur's low level event horse.

dat's a goat, charles!
Which... mostly means that now that he's sound and what not (knocking furiously on wood) and wearing all his shoes (fingers fucking crossed) and seemingly on track for the fall season (yep, we're basically jinxed now, right??), we're just easing back into the normal routine.

collecting le partners in crime
The normal routine being: our standard weekend jump lessons with trainer P; getting back on track with dressage trainer C since she comes on site every week (we rode with her again this week!! details and MEDIA to come!!); and the balance of our time spent either schooling flat work or hacking out.

oh dear, some game is afoot!
And naturally, should time and daylight allow - both schooling flat work and hacking out can be combined bc nothing beats a long casual hack after a shorter but intense workout.

srsly tho, bella, are you channeling your inner arab???
Now that we are at the new barn tho, we've got more options for hacking out than ever before. Particularly with regard to using the fields and paths for more purposeful conditioning rides. I've legit never really done "trot sets" before bc:

A) They're kinda boring as fuck if all you're doing is circling the same small field a zillion times; and B) The fitness necessary for the lower levels is pretty easily achieved for hotter blooded breeds with less formal regimens. Like.... Isabel was fine with the regularly scheduled lengthy trail ride through hill and dale with an occasional sprint tossed in there.

they're comin' in hot, sir!!
The new barn's trails don't quiiiiite rival Isabel's barn's trails (which were part of a state park system) -- but there are fields upon fields upon fields. All with gentle slopes in every direction. And all communicating with each other through a network of gates.

i spy with my little eye, a four legged red headed instigator lol 
So I headed out with Brita and Bella the other evening so she could show me the ways of taking full advantage of various paths and fence lines and field perimeters to optimize both physical and mental conditioning of the horse. Perfect!

shenanigans! 
Lesson #1 in conditioning the event horse is that it's always better with riding buddies lol. Esp if there's juicy gossip to be had!

lol riley's all like, 'ugh but mooommm just five more minutes!'
Or, perhaps more importantly, when your riding buddy is more expert at handling all the gates and whatnot so you can easily pass from field to field. Especially when the roving gangs of resident baby ponies thugs interrupt your travels to play with your puppy haha.

riley's bebeh poneh friends agree, moar play plz!
Goofy ponies. Definitely worth a good laugh tho! Esp that dark little TWH baby -- she was an orphan raised among shetlands (notably, she's the only non-shetland sized pony in the pictures from this post) but is now out in the full mare herd and is bold as brass lol.

wheeeee and they're off again!
Anyway tho, we pretty quickly decided that sharing field space with this particular herd would not be conducive to our plans haha. So we moved right on along. But not before capturing some solid gold video snippets!

hooligans, every last one of 'em
And Charlie, bless his quiet gentle soul, just kinda stood there watching in amazement as all these sma critters expended so much effort unnecessarily lol.

bella has a confuse about this whole thing. also how sweet is this senior gray mare center left who likes to play and hang out with the young'uns??
Naturally, the rest of the ride was fairly uneventful after that haha.



It was good tho. Brita showed me a couple simple and easy loops through the fields that serve well for trot sets. I didn't time it or anything, and we just did one long track twice (and Charlie was actually all veiny and foamy after).

But it seems like it'll be a really nice addition to our weekly programming - esp on week night evenings for as long as daylight lasts, then maybe on weekends?

then back to greener more boring pastures
I esp liked that there's enough space to not really have to cover the same exact ground over and over again. Esp for a horse like Charlie who has a propensity toward getting barn sour or bored lol. The whole goal is to keep getting him physically stronger and more fit while also keeping him emotionally and mentally fresh and sharp. We'll see how it goes!

Have you had to deal much with fitting up the less-inclined horse? Or tried to include more rigorous conditioning in your schedule with limited time, facilities or resources to do so? Or maybe you're just here for the ridiculous pictures of baby ponies being goons?? lol....

33 comments:

  1. The best I ever did in conditioning a horse was when I boarded where there were trails. I would school in the ring and the hit the trails doing trot and gallop sets. it was so much fun and my horse was FIT. I'm going to try doing that now that a) I have trails and b) Carmen is safe out of the ring. I also want to mix it up with maybe starting with a hack and then schooling.

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    1. i've actually never done the 'hack first, school next' routine -- usually bc of time constraints (esp week day evenings during the shorter days). but i was intrigued after touring boyd martin's facilities when he said that all the horses worked twice a day: once early on conditioning work (with varying degrees of intensity or lightness) and then later with a purposeful school. oh to have that much time!

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  2. Gem is interesting in that she has naturally amazing metabolics (we came off trail after cantering in the mountains for 14 miles and had heart rate of 41) yet she gets fat looking at grass. It's an odd dynamic. When she was 45 minutes away on a farm with no trails within an hour and I was gearing up for the 100 I needed to get creative fast. There was a single hill that was maybe a quarter mile long and at 10% grade. I did canter and Gallop sets up it once a week and that really added a ton of fitness.

    Good luck getting him legged back up. I bet he will get there quicker than you think

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    1. thanks! i agree that it shouldn't be particularly difficult to get him physically where he needs to be. it's that mental part that concerns me LOL! homeboy is LAZY for a TB.... also Gem's propensity for fitness amazes me. i always kinda thought arabs and TBs were similar in that regard, but actually the switch from isabel to charlie has opened my eyes a little bit to some differences!

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  3. here for the ponies LOL :) But i am so envious you have places to do trot sets. UGH. I have a ring. We do have one flattish field in the way back i need to check out but all the fields at my place while lovely are borderline angled in huge inclines (Remus would roll down like a tumbleweed with me following behind). Love that Charlie was fine with all that going on, I am not sure Remus would have been. And Bella HA! :)

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    1. ha omg charlie was just chillin there like maybe he wished he could have been snackin on some popcorn while watching those ponies play! and yea i'm super grateful to be at a facility with a wide range of riding options. for my entire riding career i've always been a bit of a ring baby -- right up until starting with isabel, who needed and craved variety and was an absolute beast on all those awesome trails. i realized knew i would miss those trails so much!

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  4. Horses chasing my dogs had always been fear inducing for me! Mostly because my dogs haven't always been aware that ponies are chasing them! Eek!

    You're bringing back memories of trying to whip Pig's stifle back in shape by attempting hill sets nightly... in the dark. Good times?

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    1. haha well.... in fairness, there's "chasing" and then there's "chasing." in this case, riley absolutely started it and that little baby horse was just being an honest and playful baby. had it been one of the bigger, surlier mares..... we may have felt a little more urgency in intervening lol. also hill sets in the dark? pretty sure we'd die. yup. definitely would die. lol!

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  5. Those fields are BEAUTIFUL. I'm envious as well. And the cute ponies!!

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    1. the fields are great! they aren't quite the same to me as an extensive trail system but i'm still enjoying them quite a bit!

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  6. Whenever I was at a barn that didn't have trails or had a "loop" field riding was my go to. So not much help :) But I'm sure there are plenty of articles or how to's on getting a horse fit using just an arena b/c people in cold locations are stuck in an indoor all winter. I feel like cavalettis (sp?) are the answer? Like multiple ones, not just 4 but 6-8+ and raising them as the horse gets stronger. Worth looking up! But sorry I couldn't be more help!

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    1. thanks -- i'm actually not interested in any "how to's" or advice bc i've already got a solid training and conditioning plan and understanding for my own horse. mostly i just get curious to know how others formulate their own plans for their own horses within their own circumstances. that whole 'sharing in the collective intelligence' thing i wrote about a little while back.

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  7. Bahaha! Love the baby ponies! I try to do 'conditioning' work with Dino about once a week, though I admit this season I've been slacking a little in that department! We have a 60 acre, very hilly field that lends itself quite nicely to doing trot and canter sets around the perimeter, and Dino appreciates the mental break from more intense schooling. We also try and trailer out for longer trail rides in different parks as much as we can, and hopefully this fall and winter we'll be hunting more regularly too - nothing like foxhunting for fitness!

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    1. dude i'm constantly impressed by how fit Dino is!!! esp after fair hill in july when charlie thought he might just keel over and die, and Dino meanwhile looked ready for round 2 haha!!! as much as i love being spoiled by riding arenas and whatnot, nothing quite beats getting out into the wider world for more conditioning. and fox hunting omg i want to do that sooooooo badly with charlie can we plz plz come with you??

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    2. UH YES I AM OFFICIALLY AN AMWELL VALLEY HOUNDS GROOM YOU CAN COME WHENEVER YOU WANT!!!

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    3. omg yessssss!!! i also may or may not have just fired off a bunch of emails to our local hunt too -- brita and i have been talking about this forever but still haven't done it. why? who knows! but maybe it's time!

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  8. omg those horses are so cute. everyones got that fall friskiness that i love so much.

    i actually really enjoy doing trot sets. i like making them have a really really big open steps and they get all veiny and snorty and i alternate doing it in 2point and doing different kinds of posting (two up two down).

    im sad its winter. i havent been able to ride outside all week.

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    1. omg yea, half the motivation to get more serious about this stuff is for my own fitness too.... bc like, omg i basically can't hold my two point for shit when my horse is trotting big on up-and-down terrain. which like, uh, is maybe a problem!! lol. but. it's almost october, so you know what that means! ;P

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  9. Amber and I are not conditioning. Which is not good lol. I hate running or needing to go to a gym (when riding will help with fitness! lol) and Amber gets super bored going round and round and round the ring. I want to eventually do trot sets in the desert, but I'm waiting until I can grab some easy boots - either on sale or new. I definitely don't want to trot over those rocks! Walking is kinda iffy at times as it is. I really should start that soon tho.....

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    1. yea rocky footing is definitely a challenge! charlie would probably go crippled in like, two minutes flat lol, sensitive soul that he is.

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  10. I don't really have anywhere to hack now or gallop. I use my riding time as conditioning also, long slow sets to start. Basically I just ride 20- 30 minutes straight trot and canter with a few one or two minute walk breaks in between. My horses are all OTTBs though so they fit up easy and quick, then the events act as gallop days every few weeks. For Penny I will be taking her to my parents who have big hills and hacking to get her fit for her first event in a few weeks.

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    1. definitely agreed that normal riding time is a pretty critical piece of the puzzle, and i try to use mine productively with well-defined "blocks" of work. nothing i would call 'sets' but maybe that's just a question of semantics more than anything else? exciting about getting Penny ready to go soon too!!

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  11. Ehhhhh we are decidedly NOT at the point where conditioning is a priority. So I'm just gonna let future Megan sort that out when the time comes. Also, petition to feature the goat more! I seriously LOVE goats haha.

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    1. ha yea i know that feeling. this is basically the first time in a year where i'm like, "ok it's mayyyyyybe time for my green ottb to start getting fit. bc lord knows i wanted him a tad unfit while he learned the niceties of things like "whoa dammit" and "steer"" lol. so, uh, yea. cheers to the unfit green horse!!!

      and re: the goats, i actually don't see them super duper often tho they're very cute. if goats are your thang tho, definitely check out confessions of a dressage barbie bc she's got some at home that are definitely gonna pop with goaty bebehs very very soon!

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    2. Omg babies! I'll have to stalk I mean check her blog out for that!

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  12. Ugh. I've obviously mistaken P's energy for fitness. So conditioning work is on the horizon for sure (starting tomorrow, because moving- yay!). So post more stuff that you do so I can steal ideas from you, mmmmkay? And ya, you definitely just jinxed EVERYTHING. You better hurtle yourself repeatedly against a solid block of wood. Stat.

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    1. good luck with the move! and i know what you mean about 'energy' not being the same as fitness haha -- charlie's definitely worn himself out prematurely by getting a little worked up by something lol. i'm sure you'll get lots of new ideas about what to work on once you're all settled in at the new place!

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  13. These pictures are great! Conditioning rides are much easier with friends for sure! When left to our own decisions... Brantley I spend more time galloping than doing trot and canter sets hahaha

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  14. Hahaha that's me next year I think. Definitely going to be a whole new challenge.

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  15. No idea for conditioning a horse but OMG THOSE PONIES! 😍 and what a good boy Charlie is, Vallu would have lost his shit if other horses would have come up to him!!

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  16. I'm 100% here for ridiculous pics. lol
    Actually mare before Georgie was tough to get fit (Clyde x) but I found each ride got easier and easier.

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  17. SOOOOOOOO Jealous of the space to ride!

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  18. I spent much of Murray's six year old year thinking about getting him fit and the best way to do it. I had timed out trot and canter sets that I did pretty regularly, and I thought a lot about how to make sure that he wouldn't slip back. I think the biggest thing that worked for us though was just work -- keeping him going for the last four years has added a pretty solid baseline. We're not ready to go out and run training level at speed or anything, but even after a week off it's not tough to get around a jump lesson or a cross country schooling, and I don't feel bad about overly tiring him out. I do want to get him working more on hills and on roads where the footing is a little harder (light miles there) to get him used to different surfaces and whatnot, but haven't been able to do that with any regularity yet!

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