The Beautiful Monotony of Conditioning Sets

I’ve been focusing a lot lately on conditioning work for Tristan. Now that winter is settling in (2″ of snow overnight, heeere we go!) and the time change means that I always get to the barn in pitch black, it’s endless indoor circles for us.

Lately our schedule has looked a little bit like this:

15 minutes walk
5 minutes trot
5 minutes walk
5 minutes trot
5 minutes walk
2 minutes canter
10 minutes walk

Yeah. Kind of boring. But also very zen. I watch the arena clock. I focus entirely and exclusively on how he’s moving, whether he’s forward enough. He goes almost entirely on the buckle, and I make sure he’s really stretching his nose down and out.

The good news: he’s definitely getting stronger and more willing. His muscle tone continues to improve.

The bad news? Wow, is he out of shape. I feel like a terrible horse owner both for admitting that and for admitting that I don’t actually know how it happened. I know I’d been slacking off in the rides, and I know he doesn’t keep condition as well as he used to…but his respiration stayed up for almost that entire 10 minute walk after the canter. Ugh.

I’m trying not to read too much into this, but – could he have some respiration problems going on? He was close to 50 breaths per minute; not inverted and puffing hard, but not good either. He came down slowly, and didn’t go back to normal until he was standing for me to pick his feet out as we were ready to leave the ring. It was a hail mary on my part to see if standing still for a few minutes would help; I was totally ready to keep walking. Is it possible that he just needed to stand still?

The clipping did seem to help, though: he had more energy and was much less warm than he would’ve been, though some of that was due to the 30 degree temperature difference; it was 36 when I got on and 30 when I left the barn. Brrrrrr.

4 thoughts on “The Beautiful Monotony of Conditioning Sets

  1. Do you hear any wheezing in his lungs if you put your ear against his side, about even with the girth but higher up? Have you checked his heart rate after these rides? I would get a heart rate immediately after dismounting and every 5 minutes thereafter until he is breathing normally and see what his heart is doing at the same time. You can either get a pulse or use a stethoscope. Is he drinking plenty of water? I would assume with the Cushings he is, but just wondering: they tend to drink less with colder weather and even mild dehydration will affect recoveries. Just a thought. 🙂


  2. I'm actually doing some research on the rapid breathing. We have a horse that is at so many breathes per minute (almost 3x normal) after excercise that it is dangerous. She is basically hyperventilating. She is pretty fit and it took her almost forty minutes to return to normal.. I'm having the vet do blood work on her and then will go from there. I think it's great that you are paying attention to things like that! So many people don't.


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