Friday, July 23, 2010

Need I Say It Again?

The Heat Wave Continues

The only saving grace for me is the swimming pool and my compulsive determination to swim at least ten laps every day...but mostly twelve.  All in all, it takes me about a half hour to swim.  I'm not really fast, but just swim at a moderate speed.  It's a bit over a minute going one length, so 24 lengths, give or take some time is about 24 minutes.  Were I riding, that would be a short workout for one horse.

I used to keep my schooling sessions to about 45 minutes, longer, of course when I was eventing.  Fitness for horse and rider changes according to the sport and level of training.  Upper level dressage demands good fitness on a horse's part, but I'd rather gain it through varying the exercise program rather than drilling dressage exercises every day for hours on end.

And then there is the "Thoroughbred factor."  By nature, Thoroughbreds build muscle and fitness pretty quickly.  As well drilling endlessly doesn't do much for their brains.  Mine have always tended to learn an exercise pretty quickly and while it might need practice to perfect, keeping at it for too long tends to:  a) bore them,  b) annoy them, or c) frustrate them, d) insult them.  Either way, the result is often an emotional overload that can lead to all kinds of bad behavior. 

That's not to say I haven't had my share of battles.  I once "argued" with Russell R. for well over an hour about half passing up to a gate.  I made faint progress for the bulk of the time until he finally decided to move off my leg and I quit.  We were both emotionally and physically exhausted.  It wasn't a violent session, but he totally resisted all my aids and simply refused to half pass up to the gate, despite being quite willing to half pass just about every where else in the arena.  He'd set up some kind of block in both his body and brain and it totally frustrated me.

Curiously enough, the next day when I took him out to work on the same lesson, he half passed right up to the gate as if he'd been doing it all his life.  Lesson learned, that's for sure, but to this day, I wonder if I might have accomplished the same thing without all the drama by being less demanding. 

Neither Toby nor Tucker put up with much "forcing of the issue."  Toby tends to get too upset and starts to offer just about every exercise he knows once he gets confused. and Tucker....well, he simply rebels.  As such, I have tended to try to find "ways around" to get to the same end instead of taking the more direct approach.  Of the two horses. Toby is easier to deal with, mostly because I really think he does want to do things right.  Tucker, on the other hand, really wants to do things his way.  Dealing with him is mostly trying to convince him that what I want him to do is exactly what he wants to and, more importantly CAN do. 

And with both of them, I need to remember to "keep it short."  Far better to spend ten minutes doing something well and quitting than an hour of just "doing." 

I'm pretty sure Chance will need a slightly different approach as he has far less natural stamina and needs more work to become fit.  Unlike either Toby or Tucker, lungeing him settles him down and takes the edge off if he is in "silly mode."  The other two just get more wound up and unsettled if I try to "work them down." 

So, I figure the ten laps would be enough work for the big Boys, but Chance might need twenty.


  1. Anonymous3:03 AM

    Joy often comes after sorrow, like morning after night.. . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  2. more than one way to the result - although it is difficult finding the correct way!

  3. I think it makes it more interesting to have horses with different personalities.We really learn how to ride each one differently just to come to the same basic end on the training scale.

    On the heat note, I don't think there is anyone I know right now who is working horses. Glad you've got a pool to get your exercise in, have fun up a lazy river.