Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What Do Wednesday: When to Quit

Yesterday was a dream, I think. Not only did I get LOADS of leads for my hunt for baby pics (thank you everyone), but I GOT TO RIDE.

I've ridden twice in the last 6 weeks, even though I wasn't supposed to, for about 10 minutes only  & it was absolute torture. Combined with being unable to work out as well, I was miserable.

I broke the fast yesterday though and not only went to the gym, but rode BOTH my boys.

Don't worry, I didn't overdo it like a typically do, and I actually feel fantastic today, just a little sore. Taking the day off to recoup, but hope to ride again tomorrow then maybe Saturday haul to the New Farm to jump!

My question today I might have asked before, and there is no real definite answer, more of an explanation of a process.

But first, a recap.

V is out of town so I wanted to get a solid flat school in on him. Yanks topline is looking pretty dreadful and is not developing as fast as I had hoped, post surgery. To combat this, I am hoping V is willing to either lesson with me once a week, or let me ride him on the flat. Shes still learning dressage, so its not her fault at all, but putting him through 2nd and 3rd level paces once a week might help build that muscle.


Yankee warmed up with a good marching walk, and we got to it right away since there was a storm looming. I played with the adjustability in his trot, working on collection and then extension and back and he felt quit supple despite the lack of muscle across his topline. Canter was no different and he was perfectly obedient and in front of my leg. To warm up at the canter and check his strength I asked for walk-canter transitions every 4 strides down the long side. He felt fantastic and stayed relaxed and ready for any command. Deciding to shake it up a bit, we dove in to my favorite canter exercise.

This exercise combines halt-canter, with 4-5 strides counter canter then back to the wall for a 10m circle to halt, turn on the haunches and halt-canter, repeat. Then flip the exercise for the other lead.

Do you like my shitty diagrams, hahah

Yanks was able to repeat this twice on each lead before he got tired and I really had to use my aids to keep him in front of my leg and keep the energy moving. Totaling 6 times, 3 passes on each lead I moved on to renver (REALLY hard) and traver to half pass in the trot. Half pass has always been more difficult for Yanks and he could only hold it for 3 strides, before falling in. He tried his heart out though and was foot perfect and listening to my aids even without spurs (I've needed spurs in the past for lateral work). After just a few minutes at that, I called it a day with him since I am 1000% out of shape and he is still building strength for the more advanced movements.

Bacardi was ever so slightly footsore because it has LITERALLY rained for 5 days straight. Its like a freaking hurricane or monsoon. With all the wetness, I was not surprised that his feets (took pics, next post!) were a wee sore. Also, mildly concerning, his stifle was clicking. It stopped about 10 minutes in when I asked him to back up....really hoping this isn't the start of another issues though.

Therefore, I kept our ride to a walk but worked on shoulder-in to halt, turn on the haunches/forehand and then simply changing the bend in his body along the long side (almost like renver) back and forth while still maintaining energy.

Lateral work used to really get his goat and it was almsot impossible to work more than 3-4 minutes with him at it before he checked out and started rearing. He hasn't reared in ages, but he would flip his head about and start to jig after his time limit was reached.

Flying change practice last summer

Yesterday though, he was great! I was pretty proud of him. #GrowingUp

So back to my point.

When do we quit in our rides? How much is enough?

For literal YEARS I would simply warm-up, do what I came to do and if Yanks was wonderful I would quit right there. For the majority of his younger life, he literally couldn't;t handle much, and I wanted to keep his baby OTTB training positive. Then he got older and I didn't change a thing. Normally my rides were no longer than 30 minutes. I never felt like he really NEEDED to be drilled and I love to end on a good note, and fearing he would get worse, I always ended them short unless we were struggling and he needed more time to get it "just right".

However, at shows we were expected to go for much longer than that I would notice he would lose focus quickly. His fitness was never an issue, just his concentration. It took me ages to make the connection between my ridiculously short rides and the fact that I would lose my horse after less than an hour at shows.

After that revelation, I tried to keep my rides a little longer, but still never felt he needed it. He knew his shit, there was no point drilling him. This lead me to a lot of creative rides to get that saddle time.

Then B came along and was a total shitshow every ride. Still trying to keep with my mantra of "end on a good note", sometimes I would be on him for over an hour.

To be honest, I never really felt like that got him anywhere, so I went back to what I used with Yanks as a bebe. We worked up until he started to resist. If he resisted right away, I dropped all initiative and we would toodle.
Sometimes even that was impossible so I would go for the most basic, dumbed down goal of the day. Usually walking two steps without bolting or rearing. Yeah, he was a hellion. Once we got that, BAM, I was off and he was done.

Walking is good
It took about a year, but B shows up to work almost every day now. I collect the reins up and he is THERE. So little by little I push him. If he responds well, I end the ride. If he resists a bit, I back off and ask for something simple and if he relaxes, we go back to the hard thing. 

So for us, its dependent on his brain and how much he can handle.. With Yankee, he always perfect and then its easy to get carried away with asking for more and more.

Being good is hard

So how much do you push? How far is too far in one training sessions?

Hard to quantify isn't it?

I think of it like a weightlifter. I would get absolutely nowhere if I warmed up, then quit, because my form was perfect. I would never get stronger in that skill set. Therefore, I push myself to do more. I fail a lot. But then, I succeed and get stronger...little by little.

Thats how I equate training new skills with my horses. If I give up too fast, they will never learn. Theres a delicate balance between too much and too little, especially with B. So generally, he gets ridden about 30 minutes, sometimes longer to work on physical stength things. His max brain capacity I've noticed is about 45 minutes though, so anything longer, despite how poorly he may be doing, I need to cut off there. Yankee is like the little engine that could and rarely gets stressed about anything but flying changes, so a happy 40 minute ride I think is sufficient for building muscle. I try not to drill the fuck out of him, since he is the solid citizen of my herd.

If you managed to stick through my incredible rambling post with no new pics, I want to know what you all do.

In your rides, do you often  push for more each time or do you just refresh old skills as a tune up and possibly throw in a few minutes of new skill? Do you ride for an hour no matter what? Do ou ever end rides early? Tell me dear readers, what do??


  1. I like your diagrams!

    I like to ride for an hour, due to my life circumstances (all the driving hell) with Ramone sometimes that was 30mins instead. If I was working on something specific, I would quit working on that thing on a good note, but there were plenty of other things to work on in 30-hour too. My aim was always for conditioning why I rode so long since again, driving hell.. I can only get out so many days a week.

  2. My riding duration varies depending on Fiction's mood. If he doesn't want to play, we ride for at least an hour. If he's game, maybe 30 minutes. It also depends on what I want to work on. I don't like to drill new stuff, but I wont relent until I get at least a semi-nice effort. With Fiction, that may take forever or it may come quickly.

  3. My ride time depends on my mood/how lazy I'm feeling. Sometimes it's 20 minutes. Sometimes it's an hour. It also depends on how much attitude the mule throws.

  4. I try to accomplish something - walking a full lap around the arena, for example - before I stop. Sometimes it takes 20 minutes, sometimes it takes an hour. I try to start my ride with a goal in mind, but that goal might change depending on how Leo is feeling. Today the original goal was trot circles, but then it was downgraded to walking one lap, and then upgraded to a collected trot because the walking ended up going so well. It's super variable, and if I'm pressed for time I usually choose lunging over riding just to get him some exercise so that I don't have to be forced to end on a bad note.

  5. It totally depends on the horse! Some horses is 5 mins of stellar work, some it's an hour or more! One of my horses I look for anything that resembles a hint of submission, the other can focus all day long and enjoys long rides and lots to think about. The more I throw at this mare, the more she enjoys herself!

  6. Depends on how the horse is feeling - if my mare's having a bad day, we work until we're soft then we quit. Usually I end up working her for about 40 minutes, after which she becomes too physically tired to successfully do what I'm asking. My young gelding gets more 'Stop once he understands something' type rides. That can be anything from 20minutes to an hour depending on mood/what we're doing/how well I'm explaining things to him.
    That's for arena work (ie: dressage stuff), for trail rides (which can be anything from a loose walk to some faster conditioning type rides) I aim for at least an hour.

  7. I try to go out with an objective and basically once I achieve that I'm good, however long it takes.

  8. for me, it really depends on the purpose of the ride. not every ride is for fitness, nor is every ride for schooling and technique and complexity (tho some may combine both).

    often, for me, the rides that are meant to be drilled down schooling rides will take as long as they need to. sometimes that's 12 minutes (perfect flat school before a show!) and sometimes it's longer. or sometimes we knock out my goal so early in the ride that we keep going and try new and better things. or sometimes we never quite get there and quit for a trail ride instead lol.

    i do aim tho to never go beyond my horse's physical comfort level. while i believe that a horse in work needs to learn that sometimes they have to keep going when they're tired - that they can't just decide when a ride is finished, generally i want to avoid a situation where they are too fatigued to get the answer right. or that even ending on a good note still feels like punishment.

  9. I've mixed it up so many times but I think I have it figured out. When we are in working shape I normally find a goal or objective I want to work on that day. If it goes super quick I change to something else. Or if it is super hard, we might only get halfway there. I tend to ride between 20-45 minutes depending on the day for Riesling (unless its a lesson). Monty takes a lot longer to get through things and I can easily spend an hour on him and it feels like we only worked for 15 minutes because I keep going back to stuff he is good at to give him a confidence boost to try the harder things.

  10. I always go in with a set game plan of what I want to accomplish for that ride. If we hit it in 15 minutes, we're done. If it takes and hour and a half to get it right, then we ride for an hour and a half.

  11. This is always something I am toying with. But if Bacon is totally magical, we quit right away because that doesn't happen all of the time. Sometimes I come out with a goal, and sometimes we never get near that goal because we discover other things to work on. Sometimes we start off a ride, and then she works really hard for a while and we quit after that. It all just depends with that mare.

  12. It depends on how we are both feeling and where we are riding. I obviously ride longer out on the road because it's interesting. Around the yard gets boring really quick so it's rarely more than twenty or thirty minutes.