Early-Season Fitness - Killin' It Edition

Throwback to a hack from last year. I don't desperately need new media or anything...
On Friday the forecast called for rain during my scheduled barn time, so I wasn't really planning on riding. But when the end of the workday rolled around and we were met with sunny skies, I tacked up my noble steed and headed out for some trot and canter sets around our "little" field. The grass is too tall for my hole-spotting-at-speed comfort level around our big 50-acre field, so I was relegated to the 5-acre spot behind the pasture. What a tragedy. I really have it rough.

It was like a wildlife safari out there, and Dino and I spotted several pairs of nesting geese, the resident fox, tons of songbirds, and fat waddling groundhogs. Dino didn't so much as bat an eyelash at them all, though he was QUITE interested in the geese and probably would have chased them if I let him. Clearly he learned from our horse park adventures that geese are not hazardous to ponies. 

I kept the sets the same as the last time we did fitness work - two 5-minute trot sets and two 3-minute canter sets on the hills, with one minute walk breaks in between. Since it's still early in the season, I don't want to be pushing Dino hard just yet; I want to know he's comfortable at this base level before I start increasing the number or length of sets. And since the average BN course isn't much longer than 6 minutes, if Dino can do these sets easily, we're at least fit enough to skate by without dying. 

WonderPony POWERED through his trot work - I actually had to bring him back down to trot when he popped up into canter several times during the trot sets, and the rest of the time he motored along on a floppy rein. I think I may have used Mr. Sticky (Mr. Whippy's shorter cousin) ONCE on the way down to the field when Dino thought about turning around to hang out with his buddies instead of going to work; after that he kept his own momentum without any reminders! 

The left lead canter set was awesome. I've finally remembered what my 'cruising position' feels like for cantering over terrain, and I felt really confident about staying up out of the saddle and letting Dino take care of things on the downhill sections. Every time I asked for a little bit more on a flat straightaway, it was there. 

The right lead was also fantastic until we hit the steep downhill portion, where there was also some tall grass and brush. Dino kept jumping it and swapping his lead, which was super annoying. 

So after those 3 minutes were up, I went back and schooled the 90 degree right-hand turn to steep downhill through the brush on the right lead. Voluntarily. Several times. 

And guys, my brain was not weird about it AT ALL. Not once did I pull back, or get anxious about galloping headlong down a hill with weird terrain, or worry about my pony doing a face-plant because we were going downhill. I just RODE, and focused on keeping him forward and on that right lead, and I did it until I found a strategy and path down the hill that worked. I high-fived myself for that one. 

By the end of the ride Dino and I were both sweating and had definitely worked hard, but there was still gas in the tank for both of us. Walking hills all winter has made a HUGE difference for Dino's start-of-season fitness, and I have noticed massive improvements in my own strength and endurance since I committed to working out several days a week a couple months ago. 

Fitness-wise, we're killin' it. 


  1. Woot! Brain success AND fitness success. Sounds like a super ride all around!

  2. Walking hills is so good for them. It's nice you can feel those effects now.

  3. Yahoo! You guys really are doing so great this year!

  4. So great to see that you're noticing a difference after those months of mind-numbing walking. It helps to know that all the boredom was well worth the effort!

  5. He definitely looked plenty fit and comfortably galloping around on those hills on Sunday!


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