Saturday, August 21, 2010

Fitness Blitz- Week 1

Due to a suspected stifle weakness, Spider and I have upped our workout schedule. Here's what we've done so far:

Monday: I took him out into the pasture to trot around on the "hill". It's actually more of gentle incline, but it will do. We did big circles, big figure eights and lots of straight lines. Tight circles can irritate weak stifles, which doesn't help the problem. I let him go on a fairly loose rein, allowing him to stretch downwards and out but keeping him off his forehand. I trotted him until he tripped, about 25 minutes, then did a couple shallow leg yields at walk in both directions. I figure he's probably tripping when his muscles get tired, so working him at trot to that point then doing a little gentle lateral work at walk while he cools out will strengthen him without over working him.

Tuesday he had off, because it rained all day.

Wednesday: I free lunged him over cavaletti. I was originally going to have him in side-reins, but he went right into a lovely frame without them. If he's going to stay nice and round without them, I really see no reason to bother hooking them up. It's just more work for me. Of course, the thing about lunging a horse with weak stifles is that they really shouldn't just go in circles. So you need to use the whole arena. Which means a lot of running around for the person at the end of the lunge line. You never really realize how big a dressage arena is until you're running down the long side trying to keep up with your trotting horse. Spider thought this was great fun (of course) and tried to make it a race. I ended up getting some really beautiful trot lengthenings out of him, unintentionally. He offered them up willingly just to watch me try to keep up, I think. One thing is for certain, he is not a lame horse. He went absolutely beautifully on the lunge line. Not a single misstep.

Thursday: Back under saddle. This time we did leg yields and trot-walk-trot transitions in the arena. Again, we avoided tight circles by using big figure eights to change direction. He ended up working for about 30 minutes before he tripped. After that I cooled him out and called it a day.

Friday he had off and today we'll go back to the pasture to trot around on the "hill". I think sometime next week I'll have my trainer out to evaluate us. It helps to have another pair of eyes on the ground when you're having an issue.


  1. That all sounds really good, and the fact that he's able to work well for up to 30 minutes without fatigued stifles setting in is really good. Your strategy of not pushing him beyond this point should avoid any reinjury. I'm hoping Maisie and I will be imitating you shortly - we're up to 30 minutes of walking and about ready to see how she'll go as we start our trot work.

  2. Excellent!! I admire your determination and fortitude. Lost mine, but it's good to know someone has some here in NJ. *G* That incline will work well. As long as he has to do a little extra work to get up it, it will be fine.

    Nice job. My highest compliments.

  3. Kate- I can't wait to hear about how you progress with Maisie. Spider's overall fitness level is pretty good because he's always turned out. It's really when I start asking for more demanding work (more collection, lateral work, etc.) that he starts to fatigue. I think I was just pushing too hard too fast.

    Jean- Thanks! You'll back at it in no time, I'm sure!

  4. Sounds like you have a great fitness plan in place. I think hill work is one of the best ways for strengthening. It's always good to have another pair of eyes on the ground, I always try to have help if possible when I ride. Have fun.


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