Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fitness

This is a hot topic right now in the blogosphere - I feel like we're all collectively getting kicked in the butts by our trainers with things like stirrup-less riding, holding two-point, etc. I've been including stirrup-less riding in my warm ups or cool downs, but I have never done any actual 2-point work, beyond the occasional few moments in lessons. Out of curiosity, I wanted to see how long I could do it for. So last night I did it, and whoa - I am out. of. shape.

I made it once around the arena at a trot. And once around the arena at the canter. And the whole time I was wondering if I was doing it right - if I was too far forward, if I was too heavy in my heels (I had the specific thought that there was NO WAY I could hold 2-point without stirrups). Ouch.

Well, I guess its good to know what to work on, eh?

For my readers who don't really know what I'm talking about, here is a picture of a normal seat:
Silva Martin on Rosa Cha, 2010
http://boydandsilvamartin.blogspot.com   
Compare to two-point position, aka galloping position:
Phillip Dutton on Woodburn, 2010
http://sidelinesnews.com/blogs/laurengallops/in-memory-of-woodburn.html
Notice the tush up out of the saddle and the rider at a forward angle, closer to the horse's neck. It takes A LOT of legs and abs and back to do that. Trust me.

I've also noticed that horse fitness is getting some attention in the equine online media world, presumably since the show season has officially started and we're all making sure our horses are ready to hit the horse trials. I especially liked this article from Horse Nation about conditioning work for the lower level horse. Interesting tid-bits there that apply to lots of competition horses, not just eventers. The main points that spoke to me are:

  • Develop enough fitness to make sure your practice rides at home last twice as long as your rides at horse shows. This makes sure you/your horse has enough stamina to get through the show when adding in the jitters/away-from-home stress. 
  • "I firmly believe that 15 to 20 minutes of trot work should be able to happen without you or your horse getting out of breath and without taking any breaks. If you can't trot for fifteen minutes without stopping to take a break, that is your first fitness goal."
  • "If you event...you should make a day every week where you ride your horse twice. Flat him for 30 minutes, then a few hours later pull him out of his stall and jump a few jumps and go for a trail ride. not only will this help his fitness, but it will help him mentally prepare."
  • The rider needs to do plenty of stirrup-less riding, and galloping in two-point. "The basic time frame of a BN or N XC run is 5 minutes give or take, so that has been our base line goal, to gallop for 5 minutes with me in two-point." 
  • Also, the horse should be able to gallop for for this length (and hold a nice canter for some time in Dressage), so add in "canter" sets to your workout: don't worry about quality at first, just maintain the canter for 5 minutes each direction. Then add in quality.

I plan on working on myself a bit more before I focus on Spirit's fitness. Right now she definitely outranks me.

BY THE WAY, if you are looking for a talented and gorgeous horse, please allow me to introduce you to a lovely mare for sale: Isadora, or "Izzy". Here is her DreamHorse ad, and here is her For Sale page on her Trainer's Website. She is very affordably priced and is one of the most photogenic horses I've ever seen.


3 comments:

  1. I have given up my stirrups for 3 months to achieve better balance and fitness for this show season (february/march haitus due to pony injury but I'm back in the game now with abut 4 more weeks until freedom!)

    I can say that among my torturous lessons, 2 pointing without stirrups is the worst.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wowza! That is hard core. =)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the Izzy plug. :-)

    I have hardcore thighs, so riding sans stirrups is really not a huge thing for me unless I do it in two point. Two pointing with stirrups is killer. It's such a great exercise to find your balance point and learn to move with your horse and get your weight in your feet and HOOBOY BUILD THOSE MUSCLES!!!!

    And then we start talking about fitness off the horse...

    ReplyDelete