This week started off pleasantly warm and sunny, so I thought it was the perfect time to dive into conditioning my horses for work. I’ve never had a layoff this long with my guys, but stuff happens. I don’t think their feelings have been real hurt about not having to saddle up and exercise. They’ve been perfectly content getting morbidly obese on their round bale and napping all day.
I’m not joking… I wonder if he could suffocate in there?
I was really embarrassed when I brought them down to the round pen. Thankfully, not many people were around. I’ve never had to loosen my cinch so much with Kona. He looked like a giant grey tick, ready to pop.
And Hot Rod could barely muster the stamina to get past a slow pleasure-like jog whilst dragging his nose in the dirt in protest.
Conditioning has been on my mind a lot since then, and I’ve been compiling a set procedure to get them back in shape. I’m a firm believer in conditioning before work. It takes time and patience, but skipping it is just asking for injuries and lameness.
Too many times at my barn I’ll go weeks without seeing a boarder and suddenly he (or she) will waltz down the aisle, tack-up their horse, and ride it like a racehorse. Meanwhile, I’m gritting my teeth, saying choice words under my breath at their ignorance and carelessness.
Don’t do that, mmmmmkay?
After watching my horses struggle, I realize we’ll have to start slowly. Like, snail-pace slow. My plan is to tack-up and longe for about 15 minutes, and then mount-up and walk for the next 15 minutes. I’ll do this for a couple weeks and then progress to shorter round pen times and more riding time. By six weeks I plan to ride the full time in all three gaits. I also need to plan more time for proper booting-up and cool downs. I didn’t put boots on this week, because we were snails.
What do you do to condition your horse?