Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Exercise Plan!

I hope I'm not getting ahead of myself by putting this plan together, considering we haven't done Lilly's x-rays yet (come on, Monday!), but I don't see any reason why I can't put Lilly back to work. The x-rays are mostly for my own curiosity, although they might tell us why she's a bit sore on her right front hoof without boots, and they'll also help my trimmer make better decisions with Lilly's hooves. I'm hoping that's all they show us and that everything else is normal in her hooves.

Thanks to the EasyBoots, I've been able to ride Lilly like a normal horse several times and she was fabulous... no soreness in her hooves and no issues with the saddle. She seems happy and I'm definitely happy! Because she's been out of work for so long, she's really out of shape, and I want to make sure I take it easy bringing her back into real work. I feel like her body is still adjusting to the new hooves and I want to make sure we have a good plan that makes sure she's comfortable and not pushed too hard.

I work best when things are written down and right there for me to see, so I put together a routine of sorts, with different exercises from two different books. The first is by far my favorite and I know a few of my readers have this book also: Equine Fitness: A Program of Exercises and Routines for Your Horse by Jec Aristotle Ballou. It's my favorite because not only does it list the different exercises, but it lists what part of the horse's body they work. There are a number of different exercises available for each target area and predetermined routines based on your specific goals. It got me off to a great start with Lilly's routine. The other book I used is an old favorite that a lot of us probably have in our library: 101 Arena Exercises: A Ringside Guide for Horse and Rider by Cherry Hill. I enjoy this book because the exercises listed are more like patterns, and they range from the most simple to way too complex for me!

I'm hoping to ride Lilly four times per week. I know that won't always happen but I'm going to try to stick to it. I'm also going to try to ride every other day rather than two or three days in a row. That way she can have a break in between rides. I'm sure this plan will change once I get going because I'll have to gauge her level of fitness once we start working and make adjustments as I go along. Days one and three will be for increasing suppleness and building strength. Day two will be for increasing her fitness level, and day three will be for us to work on the "normal" things we need to work on. I'm hoping to stick to this schedule for 2-3 months, rotating different exercises in here and there to keep it interesting and increasing the number of laps as I notice her fitness level increase. So here's the plan!

Day 1 - cardiovascular fitness, strength training, and suppleness

Prep:
Leg Lifts: Ask her to lift her hind legs using the dressage whip - exercise #39 (Equine Fitness)
2 Laps: Loose rein walking on the rail and over ground poles

Warm-Up:
Warm-up 1 (trot): On the long sides of the arena ride a ground-covering trot and on the corners, slow the trot. 3 laps in each direction - exercise #26 (Equine Fitness)
Warm-up 2 (trot): At one end, ride a 20m circle, after leaving the circle, increase speed the length of the long side, and resume working trot at opposite end. 3 laps in each direction - exercise #27 (Equine Fitness)
Warm-up 3 (canter): At one end, ride a 20m circle, after leaving the circle, increase speed the length of the long side, and resume a working canter at opposite end. 3 laps in each direction - exercise #27 (Equine Fitness)

Exercises:
Spiraling In and Out (trot): Rising trot on a 20m circle for a few circles and then spiral in until the circle is about 10m. On the way out, nudge with the inside leg when rising up and take about 3 circles to get back to 20m. Repeat twice in each direction - exercise #1 (Equine Fitness)
Sprint Lines (canter): Space a number of cones throughout the arena using varying distances. Get into a nice canter and when you reach the first cone, sprint to the second cone. At the second cone, slow down to a working canter. 3 laps cantering, 3 laps walking; repeat the pattern three times in each direction. Exercise #2 (Equine Fitness)

Cool-Down:
10 Laps: Loose rein walking cool down
Rein Backs: Over a pole, varying the heights of the pole - exercise #10 (Equine Fitness)

*****

Day 2 - cardiovascular fitness

Prep:
Leg Lifts: Ask her to lift her hind legs using the dressage whip - exercise #39 (Equine Fitness)
2 Laps: Loose rein walking on the rail and over ground poles

Warm-Up:
Walk: Briskly for 5 laps

Exercises:
Arena Interval Training: Canter for 3 laps, then transition down to a working trot for 3 laps. Reverse at the trot and canter in the opposite direction for 3 laps, and working trot for 3 laps. Continue this sequence 4 times. Exercise #19 (Equine Fitness)

Cool-Down:
10 Laps: Loose rein walking cool down
Rein Backs: Over a pole, varying the heights of the pole - exercise #10 (Equine Fitness)

*****

Day 3 - the basics Lilly and I need to work on

Prep:
Leg Lifts: Ask her to lift her hind legs using the dressage whip - exercise #39 (Equine Fitness)
2 Laps: Loose rein walking on the rail and over ground poles

Warm-Up:
Warm-up 1(trot): On the long sides of the arena ride a ground-covering trot and on the corners, slow the trot. 3 laps in each direction - exercise #26 (Equine Fitness)
Warm-up 2(trot): At one end, ride a 20m circle, after leaving the circle, increase speed the length of the long side, and resume working trot at opposite end. 3 laps in each direction - exercise #27 (Equine Fitness)
Warm-up 3(canter): At one end, ride a 20m circle, after leaving the circle, increase speed the length of the long side, and resume a working canter at opposite end. 3 laps in each direction - exercise #27 (Equine Fitness)

Exercises:
Long Serpentine: Jog up the long side of the arena and jog a 30-foot half circle to the right. Jog down to the opposite end of the arena 30 feet from the original track and jog a 30-foot half circle to the left. Repeat the entire width of the arena and back four times - exercise #49 (101 Arena Exercises)
Trot, Halt, Back, Trot: In sequence until I start to feel the hesitation and her trot is slower. - exercise #23 (101 Arena Exercises)
Guess What: Using a five-loop serpentine, begin by walking the first loop and stopping in the center. Trot the second loop and stop in the center. Trot the third loop and stop in the center. Walk the fourth loop and stop in the center. Trot the fifth loop and then walk. Practice three times varying the placement of the halt - exercise #81 (101 Arena Exercises)
Change of Lead Through Trot: Lope down the long side, into the corner, and on the second corner, lope a 40-foot circle. Head across the diagonal after the circle and perform a simple change in the middle. Perform this 2 times on each lead - exercise #27 (101 Arena Exercises)

Cool-Down:
10 Laps: Loose rein walking cool down
Rein Backs: Over a pole, varying the heights of the pole - exercise #10 (Equine Fitness)

*****

Day 4 - same as day 1

*****

With any luck, we'll kick this off on Monday after the x-rays! :)

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for this post! I too need to dive further into the Fitness book and work out a strategy for re-conditioning my own pony. It's great that you are finding ways to combing the Fitness book with the Arena Excercises. I have both and will look at doing the same. I keep my fingers crossed for the xrays!

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  2. With patterns like this, you'll be a dressage convert before you know it!

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  3. Great plan! I was watching Dr. Hillary Clayton vidoes recently about how to condition a horse (she's an equine vet who rides dressage) and she was advocating stongly to only ride / school every second day. SHe said that repetition of exercises without breaks really increases risk of injury. I think you might enjoy her - it's definiately along your lines of thinking (or maybe you've already seen these).
    This plan will certainly get Lily fit! It's challenging. I think I need to up the bar for Rogo and I. I really love the warm up routines. They're prefect for dressage.
    Good luck with the xrays.

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  4. SillyPony, those books are great! I've learned a lot from both of them, but the Equine Fitness book is my favorite. :)

    Terry, I sure hope so!

    Carol, I think Dr Clayton is a vet with Michigan State, right? I haven't seen any of the videos, but I'm going to look them up. I can always use more info, and videos are most helpful for me because I can see what they're doing. Thanks!

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