Photo by Margaret Chant and edited by Jessica Metropulos

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Fitness and Flexibility

It has become painfully evident to me over the past few days that Prin is grossly out of shape, and also very inflexible. I've known of some of the inflexibility since June, but only now is the extent of the problem becoming obvious. Prin's got what I would call a fairly straight, inflexible rib cage, some (although not nearly as much)tension in her stifles, and of course, really locked down shoulders. Such is the build and intent of a western-pleasure type stock horse, but I DON'T WANT THAT, so, we're going to change that.

Yesterday and today, under the guidance of Farrah (over the phone-haha), I set up some obstacle assessments to see where exactly my horse is at, and what needs to develop, and based on that, I think I've kind of come up with a fitness and flexibility program for her that is as follows:

Finding a Rhythm

Prin has a bit of an issue finding a good rhythm online with an obstacle in her path. She has a tendency to think in straight lines instead of circles (typical LBI much?) and so as she's circling, she'll jump the jump, then continue off in a straight line, instead of flexing and bending back into the circle after jumping. She does fairly well on the 12' line, but the goal is to get her doing it out to the end of the 45 line comfortably. Planning to build the 12' line to up to, say 30-50 laps (currently comfortable at about 15-18), then get the 22' line to that level, etc, and hopefully by the time we're to the 45' line, someone will be fit enough to handle lots of cantering.

Lateral Flexibility

I'm going to find a copy of Karen Rohlf's book/video, and start using her flexibility exericises. Farrah introduced me to just a taste of that at her clinic in June, and it seemed to make sense. I'd love to see how Prin does and builds in her movement with consistant use. So...with that out there, anyone have a copy they'd like to part with?

Longitudinal flexibility

Prin and I have been playing a lot with longitudinal flexion all summer, but I never realized how vital it was to my horse's ability to collect until earlier this fall. Getting Princess to do it in the walk and trot, and even some in the canter (PLEASE email or leave a comment if you're wondering about this) and having her STAY IN IT long enough to build muscle will really help Prin's topline strengthen and grow.


Long trots/canters to build rhythm and stamina will really help her I think. My plan is to take her for trots/canters 2-3 times a week, starting for 15 minutes and building up. I know it sounds like a lot, but to put it in perspective for you, Farrah was telling me that when she was training for her 2* in eventing, she was CANTERING AND GALLOPING (not walking and trotting) but CANTERING AND GALLOPING up to 2 hours A DAY. Yeah, that was one fit horse. I don't need Prin to be THAT athletic, necessarily, but I want her to be fit and comfortable enough to be able to do the kind of high level manuvers I want to complete.


This is the one area that I'm still a little iffy about. I've heard so many different opinions, and I'm not finding ANY consistancies. Prin is getting fed with 14 other horses about 8 small square bales a day. Probably gets about 1/2 a bale for herself. Right now I have her supplemented with a 5 pint scoop of soaked alfalfa cubes and a half scoop of oats and sunflower seeds for fiber and oils once daily. I feel like this might be off. She's turning her nose up to the hay cubes pretty badly, which makes me think that that might not be what she needs. Anyone have any ideas? She needs to GAIN WEIGHT as well as keep it on. I'd like to avoid anything high in sugars, and unhelpful fats, and really focus on proteins, fiber and healthy oils. Thoughts are appreciated right now, and I've got a bit of a budget to play with, but not too much.

That's what I've got in the works right now for Prin. It's really sad to look at Crest and think "That horse could do this already...argh Prin!" Oh well, such is the life of a LBE vs an LBI. Please let me know your thoughts :)

Savvy out!


PS, YAY OBAMA!!! Talk about a change we can believe in, check out that LANDSLIDE of a win :)


dit said...

Just wondering what Longitudinal flexibility is??

Savvy on

Fran said...

Longitudinal flexibility is flexing over the top of the body, i.e. the topline. the idea is to get the horse stretching her head/neck down long and low. When she does this, her back will come up and her hind quarters engage. It builds an excellent topline foundation for further collection.

If you have other questions, feel free to post back and I'll try to provide more :)


wildmagic said...

Thanks, i get it now.