I thought this morning that I would post up my thoughts on a time-line for Structure, Stamina, and Speed. My source information this time is Go the Distance by Nancy Loving, DVM.
Please place tongue firmly in cheek as this is my accumulated mental wanderings on the topic of Structure, Stamina, and Speed.
The recommendations for a first year horse is to build 2-3 months of solid LSD by riding every other day. Long and slow defined as: intermittent walking and slow trotting. With a ride goal of 5-6 miles in the beginning, inching up your distance week by week (NOT YOUR SPEED) until you can hit your goal distance of 25 or 30 miles. Then you can begin to increase the length of your trotting sessions gradually at shorter distances of 5-10 miles during the week. At the end of your first year the horse should be capable of working over level terrain at 8 mph.
Year one is the structure building portion. After the three month structure build up you would add some rides at the same LSD pace, shooting for completions. The LD rides would replace your LSD trainings at this point.
Winter off-season maintenance: Ride 5-10 miles 3 times a week to keep a level of fitness on your horse.
Here we begin to work on stamina about 8 weeks before the season begins again. You would train basically 5 times out a ten day period. You will be training shorter distances of 10 miles and each ride increasing your speed NOT YOUR DISTANCE. So 10 miles at 7 mph, 10 miles a couple weeks later at 8 mph, and couple more weeks up to 9 mph using the same training loop as possible so that you are progressively loading under the same set of training conditions, tweaking speed very slowly to build stamina. You will still have one session of LSD every 10 days at a good working pace of 7-8 mph. Train at the pace you plan to complete. Your total mileage for a given week should not exceed your ride goal of 30 miles (unless you are aspiring to a 50 mile ride).
At this point you have developed your LSD base, and your horse has stamina from the short but faster training miles. The recommendation for developing speed is Interval Training. Developing speed also puts the greatest risk of injury on a horse. The process recommeded for an endurance horse looks very different from a racehorse. On your 10 mile rides you will begin to canter an interval. First session maybe the goal is a one minute canter, with an active (trotting) ten minute rest phase, then repeated three times. The next week maybe you bump it up to a two minute canter, with a ten minute active rest phase, repeating it three times. The goal is to challenge the horse in small increments so as not challenge to the point of exhaustion or injury. Over weeks of training you should gradually be able to tweak those cantering sessions up longer, and gradually reduce the trotting phases. This process can also be done using a long gradual hill.
At this point I see Phebes and I on track at the end of year one. We will likely work at the stamina phase this winter after a little tune up from her lay-off.
Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance
Favorite Links for training, gear, and memberships!
- National Association of Competitive Mounted Orienteering
- HOW TO CMO
- What is CMO?
- Old Dominion Endurance Rides
- Renegade Hoof Boots
- Riding vs. Racing a discussion with the Duck.
- Trumbull Mountain's INTRO TO ENDURANCE RIDING
- Principles of Conditioning
- Conditioning the endurance horse by SERA
- Short Article: Feeding & Training the Endurance Horse
- Feeding the Endurance Horse, Swedish Author
- Preventing Dehydration In the Endurance Horse, Ontario Competitive Trail Riding Association
- Jim Holland's fantastic training links here!
- South Eastern Distance Rider's Association