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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance
Email: jackereynolds@yahoo.com


December 8, 2011

Conditioning the Endurance Horse

I found another one today, this time Australia.  This is a brief synopsis of what I read.

Once the horse has the basics of under saddle work such as lead changes, diagonals, gait transitions, calm trail work, loading, tying,and group riding, eating and drinking on trail, and handling for any areas the vet might use, desensitization for oral syringing, and needles (after all a horse could have blood drawn for drug testing at a ride, or in a worst case scenerio given fluids, or injection of banamine or such).  So this piece assumed that you have all these basics first.

This author really started slow.

  •  3-4 miles per session (riding it in 45 minutes-an hour and a half).  Every other day for a few weeks.
  • 6-8 miles per session (riding it in 1-2 hours).  Every other day for several weeks.  Think of using the same distance and trail each session, but slowly reducing the time it takes to complete your course.  So in the beginning maybe the trail takes 2 hours, but after four weeks it takes you one for example.
  • Then move onto hill work.  This author recommended walking up hills for hour to hour and a half sessions to build fitness fast.  Every other day.   Then throw in a LSD ride once every ten to fourteen days increasing the horse's distance gradually over time and sessions.  10 miles, 12 miles, 14 miles, 15 miles, just inching up every couple weeks, and concentrating on slow hill work on the other training days.  Always allow a recovery day between ride days at this point. Try to peak the horse to the distance for a competition using this cycle.
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Then I found this one.

Week 1:  Ride 3-5 miles daily at a walk, one day can be an arena session.  Feeding hay, minerals, and electrolytes as needed.

Week 2: Three ride sessions  of 5 miles this week introducing the trot.  Walking ten minutes, and trotting five, repeating.    One session of arena/ or lunging.   Introduce concentrated feeds on work days only in addition to hay/grass, minerals, and electrolytes as needed.

Week 3: Three ride sessions of 5 miles this week, increase the trotting, have a short canter, and cool down.  Increase the feed ration to maintain weight.   

Week 4:  Two arena sessions of an hour this week, and 2 rides of 6-8 miles using the walk and the trot.

Week 5: One arena session, 2 rides of 8-10 miles.  Keep record of the horse's weight, and increase feed to maintain weight (reducing feed on non-work days).

Week 6:  One arena session, 2 rides of 8-10 miles utilizing walking warm up, and trotting, with a few cantering intervals.  One 15 mile slow ride ( 5 mph).

Week 7:   2 snappy five mile rides, and 1 long ride of 15 miles,  1 hill session.

Week 8:   One lunging session,  2 easy 4 mile rides,   and a slow 25 mile LD,   a one mile walk the day after the ride.   Week 8 is actually a slow training ride for your next leg up in distance (ie. 30 miles, 50 miles, etc.)

This one was out of Great Britain  and covers only the first eight weeks of legging up and moving into the sport at turtle speed.  This was the shortest version of a conditioning program that I've run across.  Most advise about 12 weeks, but it could be that this one is figuring you already have a somewhat fit horse.  It then goes on to strength training of the human component of the team.  Strength training 30-45 minutes at a time, and exercises for a strong core, using stretchy bands to build arm muscles, doing squats, lunges and planks.  Then on to cardio fitness for the rider by getting off and jogging beside your horse.

I'm sorry I lost the links to these so the info is off a printed copy.  I found them searching for FEI Endurance horse training.   Not saying right or wrong, just sharing.... ~ E.G.   

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