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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

March 27, 2015

Endurance Conditioning for Dummies: a.k.a. that time thing

I’ve heard it said that riding endurance takes “too much time”, or rather, the person cannot find time to condition a horse.    My position is that it is not matter of enough time, but rather a shortage in the planning department that keeps one from getting a horse fit to complete. Sure there are unforseen things like injury, or family illness that can sideline anyone.  But think about this...

In a given week we have 7/24 hour days.   That calculates to about 168 hours total.   Out of that 168 you can subtract 50 for work or work related duties or let’s even go 60 for those type A’s (what is wrong with you people *LOL*).   You will sleep another….let’s give you the benefit of the doubt about 63 hours out of your week.    So you have left about 58 hours for meals, housework, appointments, and horse time.  So let’s knock off 14 hours for eating meals, still leaves 44,  let’s whack off 2 hours a day for housekeeping and laundry,  2 hours a week to shop,  you still have 28 hours left.  Okay let us just say that something will sideline you sometime in the week, an appointment, a school function,  a family commitment, a trip to the doctor.  I’m going to be generous and hack off 6 hours for that.    We are down to 22 hours, oh we have to take care of the horses right?   Shave off 8 more (it will even out over the year).   You have 14 hours left of discretionary time to ride.  Oh!  That isn’t enough!!!  Well---it probably is.  Just use it wisely.

Though I don’t have a high mileage record recorded on AERC, it is not unusual for me to log 800-1000 saddle miles in a given year.  The months of Dec. and Jan. my horses get the time off to just be horses.  So I spend about 300 hours a year riding with a few competitions thrown in.  When conditioning for the first ride for any season I generally ride three times a week.    More if the time is available, but I only count on three.  It will look a little like this, but I don’t over-stress on the idea that X many miles must be done in a week to get there, I just shoot for close.

Month one:
1 hour of walk/trot in the arena (trot until huffing, puffing a bit, walk until they quit, rinse/repeat.)
1 hour of slow hill climbing (Find yourself one whopper moo-goo hill if at all possible)
3 hour 10-15 mile ride on the weekend at pace that stresses but does not overload the horse.

Month two:
1 hour gradually working up the amount of sustained trotting (trot until huffing, puffing a bit, walk until they quit, rinse/repeat.)
1 hour of walk, trot hill climbing
3 hour 15 mile ride on the weekend at pace that stresses but does not overload the horse.

After those eight weeks I’m probably going to complete an LD which is “my LSD training” for that week.

Then back to:
1 hour of sustained trotting once a week, and by this time we can usually do it non-stop.
1 hour of hill climbing doing trot, and canter uphill (remember that half of that time is walking back down)
3 hours of  distance at "ride pace" and I start tracking my average speed and try to keep that pace above 5 mph, with a few canters thrown in, and try to shave off a minute or two each time out.

That is it. 

 I can’t tell you how to ROCK the top ten.  That is not within my experience.  I don’t even really want to know, I like doing it my speed.  I will say that my three horse work days are weather dependent, and now and then I miss one.  If I do I improvise and add it back in on another day.  Once my horse is fit I will do a 20 mile day now and then, and if I have really nice weather midweek and I get home from work early enough I might shoot for a 7-10 mile snappy paced ride since I have trail access at home.  That is the bare bones of it.  You aren’t going to win doing it my way, it would be wrong to try, but it will get you pointed at a slow LD.   It will earn you a turtle award ☺

You have only committed to 5-8 conditioning hours a week (eight would definitely be better), if you want to add travel time we can make it 11.   You still have 3 hours of discretionary time left,  snuggle up to your significant other, or have a play date with the grand kids, or soak in deep tub of hot water.   YOU CAN DO IT.  You just have to claim those hours for yourself, and ride the horse.

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