Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Fitness Program Begins

And Tucker Walks the Trail

I lunged today. It was a bit windy again and I just felt better on the ground.  

No need to worry too much as Tucker was perfect on the lunge line. Granted, it's just some walk, trot and canter in the halter at the end of the line--more exercise than training--but he often plays up at it.  Not today.

So, after we finished our session, I took him out for a lead walk through the woods trail, introducing him to the new trail in the process. He was not impressed and much more interested in grabbing bites from every leafy tree we passed on the way.  I indulged him--mostly--as long as when I said, "Let's go," he did. We had a few moments of too much focus on the leaves and not enough on me, but for the most part, he was a good boy.

When I got back, I put the halter and line on Chance and lunged him in the paddock area in front of the barn. The footing there is sandy, but a little uneven, so he had to work a little more to keep his balance, pace, and footing.  We did a good bit of trotting. As Muriel noted, trotting is the key to strengthening stifles as it's the gait that builds the muscle around the joint.

And, hills are an important part of developing the muscle fitness a "stifle horse" needs. So when we finished in the paddock, I took him out to the pasture. There are some really nice hills out there with varied steepness, all of a nice length for lunging or even riding to get a horse fitter without overdoing it.

I may have pushed Chance a little too long, as he took one bad stride on the left rein, as if his right hind just kind of "collapsed" under him--although he may have tripped. So I cut the exercise short on the right rein and then called it a day.

Tomorrow, if I get the chance, I will ride him on the trail again, perhaps using the hill along the farm field to give him some work under saddle.  If it's not too breezy, I will try to ride Tucker out on the mini trail, but we'll see about that.

I have also captured a very unhappy Peppercorn who is now in the cage in the sunroom with Misty to keep him company. Tomorrow, he goes to the vet for neutering. He may never trust me again--who knows?--but it is for his own good as well as the good of any female cats within roaming distance of my house.  As much as I love cats, the world does not need litters of stray kittens with a shiny black daddy.

I hope he will forgive me in time.


  1. I have always believed that every time we interact with a horse we are training. I often think that the way we interact with our horses on the ground shapes them more than our work in the saddle.

    I so wish I had hills to work on! South Jersey is so flat!

    Peppercorn may not appreciate your intervention, but you're doing good work, anyway. He'll be less inclined to fight now, and that means a longer life for him. Not to mention saving many of his potential litters from a life as ferals!

  2. I think that the horses aren't the only ones who were getting a fair share of exercise today. Sounds like good work to get those stifles in shape. I know we like to ride the horses up and down hills around here to get them in shape too.

    As for eating the leaves, we once had a giraffe for a horse too, he loved leaves and bark on trees. It was a little embarrassing sometimes standing outside a competition arena and having your horse chow down on the the trees. We walked him around a lot to get him away from his snacking.

    Peppercorn may not thank you right away but the neighbors and female cats in the area will, I'm sure. And in the long run he'll likely have a longer healthier life because he'll stay home more.

  3. Poor Pepercorn ^-^ You are doing the right thing for him! Who wants to be slave of their hormones???

    Yes trotting. I need to start a trotting programme for Teena. I ahve been incredibly busy. So when I ride I go hacking where teh ground is too slippery, when I am indoor, I canter, because I am afraid to canter outside.

    So yes next week I will start a trotting schedule for Teena ^-^