physical fitness (horse) · senior horse


I’ve said many times that managing Tristan’s brain is harder than managing his body. His body is not exactly easy to manage either, but his brain? Well, he had a decade of looking out for himself, four years of wild roaming and then six of nothing but unreliable or neglectful humans. Only this year have we been a team for as long as he was solo.

He’ll never be a ride-every-day horse. That mostly works out for me: I don’t have a ride-every-day life. There’s a lot of gray in between that high-maintenance horse and a pasture puff, though, and I’ve struggled with finding the right balance in the moment. It keeps changing, and a lot of the changes now are directly tied to his 22 years of hard living.

pretty darn good right now

Right now, though? Knock wood, I’ve found a sweet spot. I’m balancing the hard 60 minute fitness rides with the 20 minute dressage intensives with the 30 minute longeing sessions with the 45 minute hacks – and the days off in between. He is really and truly a horse that’s happier and goes better when he’s had time to process and rest.

February was a great month for building on success in all areas, but at the end of last week I longed him and he was just not happy. So we backed off. He got two days in a row off for the first time since early January, and then he got a road hack on Sunday and his brain was already a bit better. I was on a roll with house work on Monday, so he got that off, too.

Tonight, we’ll ease back in with a light longeing session, and then tomorrow back in the saddle for some trot sets & fitness work. I’m working hard to make days off and light days conscious decisions that I make based on the horse in front of me, and it’s paying off in a big way.

6 thoughts on “Balance

  1. I like your rotational plan. Perhaps I should try something a bit more like it to keep variety and fitness going. But how, how, how do you stay motivated and on task for a 45 minute lunge?!


  2. My horse definitely benefits from variety in his work. Getting outside. Working on different terrain. Playing at different speeds and intensities (and jumping sometimes too!) all keep him interested. And otherwise he lets me know lol


  3. Tristan's baseline is so cranky that I have to pay careful attention to what's more cranky than usual, but I think I'm reading him right for the moment.


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