Thursday, March 5, 2015

What Do Thursday: Fitness Schedule

As of right now, the plan is to get set up in the new barn on Saturday, and possibly move Boca over late Saturday afternoon or sometime Sunday.
Which leads me to my next question:

Do any of you have helpful suggestions for getting fuzzy pony back in shape?
What schedules do you follow for introducing your horse back into work?
Are there any helpful resources online that you can point me towards?
I would love to have some sort of structured schedule to follow, sort of a "Couch to 5K" for horses.
Please keep in mind we will be limited to the indoor for some time to come.
There are still too much snow on the ground to use the trails for low-impact fitness, which would be my first choice.
I'm not sure how busy the indoor will be, and I will have to be considerate of others, so lunging may or may not always be an option.
I really look forward to hearing any suggestions!
I will be checking the comments section frequently for your input.


  1. I like to start the riding season with lots and lots of walking--transitions within the walk and then adding in w/t/w transitions. It's slow and easy and builds strength, can easily be done in an indoor, and is very low impact for the horse. Of course, Boca might be fitter than you think from prancing through all the snow?

  2. Second SB -- low impact work at the beginning! And some other blogger just posted about pasture horses vs. stalled horses vs. exercised horses fitness levels, though I don't remember who it was. Take home message from that: pasture (no work) was quite similar to stalled + 4-5 hours of work a week fitness.

    My all time fave fitness resource is Equine Fitness by Jec Ballou -- not too expensive on Amazon and an AMAZING book. For a totally unfit horse (I am not exactly sure what constitutes this), Jec recommends 3 weeks of non-mounted work, working up to every-other-day riding (short rides, 25 minutes), and then slowly increasing riding time and impact under saddle. Her projected timeline for getting a totally unfit horse back into shape where it can be ridden 5-6 days a week for 45 minutes is 3 months (so not necessarily super fit, but back in work). I'm not sure where you and Boca are at, but paying attention to your horse (looking at respiration before and after your rides, sweat patterns, willingness to work, and comparing it over time) are all good indicators of fitness and work appropriateness, too.

  3. I just read the book Equine Fitness by Jec Aristotle Ballou after reading reviews on other blogs and really enjoyed it!! Lots of good exercises for building strength and conditioning. The general them seems to be slow and steady, yet correct - and also adding variety (ie schooling v conditioning) to work different aspects of fitness. Good luck!

  4. I agree with the others. I like a lot of walk/trot work in the beginning, and I don't ask too much collection or hard stuff. Just getting legs moving at first!

  5. I'm trying to figure this out for myself right now. Mostly we're walking, walking, walking. We did some hillwork yesterday. You can approximate that by doing poles - just walk over a few on every lap, or every other lap. Then build up slowly.

    I collected some links about getting fat winter ponies back into shape here:

  6. Thank you for all the awesome suggestions so far! Definitely getting some inspiraton from your comments!

  7. there was a good article in Equus for January (or was it feb) that was about that. Slow and steady is the way to to go but most importantly is to tune into your horse- his breathing, sweating, etc. He will let you know how he's doing.

  8. Hacking out on trails/fields and keeping it interesting! Whatever gait your horse likes/sustains best for longer and longer intervals.

  9. Someone should seriously write a " "Couch to 5K" for horses " . I'd buy it.

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