Thursday 23 March 2017

Pony Fitness Week 1

To me, Fridays have always seemed like the start of the week for all things horsey, so I'm starting our fitness diary as of last Friday. If you'll recall, vet opinion number 1 was that B needs to lose weight and be fitter as a first step. The fitness aspect actually caught me off guard a bit - pony is used 6 days a week for at least one jumping and one dressage lesson, plus vaulting classes plus trail rides, 1 hillwork/fitness day, plus additional jump schooling and flatwork. That would have been plenty for any previous horse I've owned (heck, Ginger is very fit on the same schedule right now), but sadly, it's not enough for the Bridgets of the world and we need to step up our game.

I'm going to start keeping better track of our rides and see if we can mark some progress. I do have access to a heart rate monitor and will see if I can start borrowing that to help. I like the idea of using intervals, however we essentially live in the mountains and it's simply not possible to find a space big/flat enough to allow you to trot for 10 min and canter for 5 without footing or elevation becoming serious issues. Our arena is too busy most days as well, so I've sort of given up on keeping to a strict plan that way.

Friday: Jump school. 15min W/T/C warmup, 20 min jumping 2'3 -2'6". Started with single fences, finished with a course of 6 jumps twice (with a short break in between). B was starting to tire and was pretty sweaty.

Saturday: Trail ride. 15 min W/T/C warmup in the arena, 90 min trail ride on some challenging terrain, probably the steepest hills you could safely navigate around here.. Mostly walk, one short canter uphill (about 200m). B can walk all day, but that short canter and some of the steeper inclines really had her out of breath.

Sunday: Flatwork in the arena. She felt tired and a bit stiff, but warmed up out of it. W/T/C 30min. Finished with a ride up the "big hill" (1.3km/0.8mile to the top from the barn, elevation change of 132m/433ft, average slope = 10%, although the final half is the steep part averaging closer to 14%). Walked and trotted until she was puffing, then walked on the contact back down, making her use her bum.  Hard work for ponies.

Monday: Day off

Tuesday: Dressage lesson. 30min walk warmup followed 45min of trot and canter, with a short walk break halfway through. Lots of transitions and getting pony to sit on her hind end. Very sweaty by the end, but never out of breath.

Wednesday: Accompanied one of the eventers out to do gallop sets. We use a dirt road with undulating hills, about 800m/half mile long for the gallop part. It's the flattest suitable road here, but still to steep to use both ways at a canter or gallop, so mostly the girls canter or gallop up and walk/trot down. B did one and felt like she might die, although recovered quickly. So total outing = about 5km, mostly walk/trot on varied terrain, with about 1km of that being canter or gallop (B did a bit of gallop and tried to keep up, but mostly needed to canter it).

Thursday: Repeat of Sunday. Light flat school in the arena and a 3 km loop walking up and down the big hill.

This weekend, we start with a jump school Friday night, have a clear rounds day on the agenda Saturday, plus a trail outing on Sunday. Next week we're back to regularly scheduled lessons Monday and Wednesday, plus vaulting on Tuesday as well.



  1. I need you as my fitness instructor!

  2. can you come and start boot camp for Carmen and I?

  3. I might have to lie down just from reading that fitness schedule! Good luck with resolving out B's issues.

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  5. Sounds like a lot of awesome work! I get nervous about Charlie's general fitness too, esp bc we have very few opportunities to work for any duration of time on terrain and hills

  6. Sheesh -- pony needs lots of work! It's going to be so fun though :D

  7. I think I need you to help me get Katai fit too!

  8. I wish we had some hills at our barn, non existent though long and slow work is totally doable. I hope this fitness journey gets Bridget's butt in gear!