Monday, October 25, 2010


Tanna got sick in April and was given a clean bill of health and clearance to ride and condition in early July.

Because of the heat in the summer, I opted to just let Tanna run around the pasture and be a horse without pushing him. If he was in pristine condition, I would have been reluctant to condition much anyway, forget that he had almost died in April.

Yellowhammer was supposed to be a blissful time of riding the trails at a leisurely pace and helping out. Well, that didn't work out so well, horse-wise. But I did have a good time chatting with all my friends and just before we left, I learned of a ride that we could possibly do. Flat trails, far enough out to get 6 weeks of training in, hopefully cool weather.

So I leaped at the chance to begin conditioning Tanna with an eye for doing a 50. If ever there was a ride to try for a come-back ride, this would be it.

My initial training plan included 3 days of conditioning and 1 day of training in the pasture. We're now into our 4th week of training and we've settled into a good schedule of 2 days of conditioning and 1 day of training.

Sunday - Long Slow Distance (LSD): This is 15 to 18 miles of mostly trotting and walking. Aiming for an average speed of no less than 5 mph, aiming for closer to 6 mph. Terrain varies depending on if I'm game for trailering out or if I just ride out from the house.

Tuesday - Training day. This is returning to the basics and takes place right on our property. A little round pen work. Stretching. Some bareback work. Some massage for him. Some riding up and down our hill in the back at a walk around obstacles.

Wednesday - Speed work. This is the fun day, but also some training involved. 7 - 10 miles mostly at a fast trot or canter, with safety the ultimate goal. This means he has to pay attention and not run off with me. Which he is prone to do as we're headed home. Terrain is flat.

The other days he just runs in the pasture with Serts and gets a ton of food to keep his weight up.

LSD and Speed workouts always begin with a 10 minute walking warm-up. After that, the real work begins. He trots or canters for 4 minutes. Then he walks until his heart rate returns to 100 beats per minute. Then we go again. We repeat this for the duration of the workout. Sometimes, especially in the beginning, there are no walking breaks as his HR often doesn't even rise above 100 bpm for several cycles.

When riding at home, we do an out and back ride and when we turn around to go home, Tanna's HR and adrenaline increase and it takes a bit of doing to get him to calm down enough to let his HR drop. But that's all part of it. I want him to learn to relax and then we can go again.

After 3 1/2 weeks of steady conditioning, he looks very good. Fit and happy. I'm really hopeful that we can successfully complete this comeback ride next month.


SweetSpiller said...

is that system of condittioning something you developed yourself or did you have a source you recommend for research on conditioning....

Anonymous said...

I'm glad Tanna is back to work. My guy has had some time off and he still looks pretty conditioned. He's spoiled because we have been riding with other friends- so now he looks rather dejected at having to train alone. I even took my dog but that wasn't a good enough substitute !

Happy trails-
Alicia and Synsation

April said...


This is sorta something I came up with after reading lots of articles on endurance riding and endurance running.

Earlier this year, I was privileged to hear Jeff Galloway (http://www.jeffgalloway.com/) speak about doing marathons (human running) with a run/walk method. Of course, the entire time I was thinking how I could apply the principles to my horses!

Since I ride with a HRM, it made sense (to me) to base the rest (or walking) periods on Tanna's HR.

Some good reading on Endurance Education:

Karen Chaton (many, many rides on a few awesome horses): http://enduranceridestuff.com/blog/endurance-riding/

Old Dominion Rides:

And of course, the AERC has an Education piece, both online and in the Endurance News magazine.

April said...


They do like company, don't they?

Horses will hold their conditioning a good bit of time under normal conditions.

I've been super careful with Tanna due to his health issues earlier this year, but once he's in shape, it doesn't take much to keep him in shape to do the slow rides I like to do.