Training for 2017 Competitions – December 2016 & January 2017 Workouts

I’m going to keep a log of what sort of training I do as I gradually get Gamble up to appropriate fitness for Eventing in 2017.  The medium-term goal is to get to Bromont’s CCI 1-star event in June, and then we’ll look at doing some Intermediate or maybe even 2* horse trials after that, likely in the U.S. (New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan).  Assuming, of course, that everyone stays healthy! As part of this training, I’ll be heading to Aiken SC from mid-March to mid-April so that I can get a jump on the competitive season. Dec. 26 2016: Training officially started today!  We started with a 4k trot cardio on side of the road, from Baamoral Acres to the corner of Denfield and Medway Roads and back.  4.2K at an average pace of 5:01 per k: Dec. 27, 2016: Trassage (trail dressage) for 30 minutes.  Worked on collected sitting trot and collected canter, plus leg yields. Dec. 28, 2016: Rapport died this morning.  A tough day.  Just did a trail ride with Tori and Joey for 30 minutes. Dec. 29, 2016: 4K trot cardio.  Gamble was a little more confident going out than the first day.  Always faster coming back.  Average pace: 4:42 per k:  

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How Cold is “TOO COLD” For Riding?

I’m one of those crazy people that you see out at the barn every day during the winter. I actually prefer winter riding over summer riding for a variety of reasons; mostly the lack of mud, bugs, and heat. So, being the snow-bunny that I am, I am frequently asked “Isn’t it too cold to ride that poor horse?”. I think you’ll be fairly surprised at the answers the world wide web provides: “There is no temperature where it is too cold for a horse to be ridden or to go outside if they are adapted to it” – Dr. Joyce Harman, Equisearch   Horses have one of THE most amazing cooling and heating systems in the animal kingdom. Their dense coats “fluffs” up in the cold and trap in the heat their body produces through eating and exercise. Horses actually produce heat when they digest food. You may notice horses eating through round bales faster in the winter. This isn’t just out of boredom, it’s to keep warm. They may also have quick bouts of friskiness, which is also to keep warm. The only thing temperature-wise you really have to worry about in the winter time is wind. Wind can penetrate the dense coat of a horse and give them a chill, but shelters or wind breaks take care of that problem. What about blankets as wind breaks? The problem with using a blanket as a wind break is it actually flattens the horse’s coat. When the horses coat is Continue Reading →

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Hoof Problems: Part 2; Treatment & Wrapping the Hoof

If your horse has an abscess or soft soles, you will need to protect the hoof by wrapping it, and poultice it to draw out any infection/toughen the sole. When an abscess is present, it’s very very very (VERY) important to make sure the hoof is clean before wrapping. Soaking the Hoof (Abscess Only) To do this you can soak the hoof in a shallow pan of water and Epsom salts. I usually put in 2 cups of Epsom salts and 3-4 inches of water in the pan/tub. I find plastic ground feeding tubs the best for soaking. If your horse has bruised soles, you don’t want to soak the hoof as this will soften it even more. Make sure the water is room temperature. Your horse probably won’t like standing with his foot in a bucket, so be ready for him/her to leap out of the bucket and splash water every where. You might want to hold the horse on a lead rope the first few times! NOTE: In winter, soak the hoof in a clean, dry stall so you don’t have ice forming in the aisle if your horse knocks the bucket over!  What You’ll Need  A mixing bucket (for bruised soles) Iodine Sugar (for bruised soles) Duct Tape Diapers VetWrap Scissors Diapers (I used Newborn size)     Step 1: Dry and Clean the Hoof If you have bruised soles/soft soles and therefore haven’t soaked the hoof, you’ll still need to clean the hoof out before wrapping Continue Reading →

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Dressage Lesson with Michaela Pisters

I had an excellent dressage lesson with Michaela Pisters today.  I was looking for exercises I could do in order to work on proper collection.  We ended up with both exercises for that goal, plus working on collected movements such as shoulder-in, travers and half-pass. After warming up I should do a couple of 10 m. circles to a shoulder in, and then straighten. Then a couple of 10 m. circles to a travers. Then a couple of 10 m. half circles to a half pass. I need to remember to keep my torso relaxed. Keep my right shoulder down, hands together, legs down. My shoulders back, arms in. I need to work on gradually keeping Gamble’s head higher and rear-legs more underneath him. Keep the energy up. If he stalls on a shoulder-in or travers, straighten him out and move him forward. When doing a medium trot across the diagonal, a couple of quick taps with both legs once we are set up and pointing in the correct direction.

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Hoof Problems: Part 1; Soft Soles & Abscesses

Most horse owners have been there… You go out to ride your horse, and he/she limps into the barn like their leg is broken, barely putting weight on the limb. You immediately assume the worse, and start your detailed check of the limb for heat/swelling… but there is none! You move down to the hoof and sure enough, there is heat/bruising in the hoof. Assuming there isn’t anything lodged in the hoof, you’re probably looking at an abscess. If you have recently ridden on a gravel road/hard ground, you may also be looking at softening of the soles. How to tell the difference: What you’ll need: – Hoof testers – Hands capable of noting temperature differences – Hoof pick with brush Step 1: Clean the hoof out thoroughly using your hoof pick & brush. You may want to lightly soak the hoof in a small pan of water to really clean it out, so you know what you’re looking at. Step 2: Look for any bruising/discolouration in the hoof. It is usually spread out, coming from the frog (the most sensative part of the hoof).             Step 3: Check for temperature differences in the hoof. If there is spread out bruising and the sole seems warm to the touch, you’re probably looking at bruised & soft soles. Bruised/Soft soles will “give” when you press down on the sole with your hand. If there is no bruise, or a small bruise, but a temperature difference in Continue Reading →

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Gamble is Back! Win in Training Sr. Division at Twisted Pine

As part of Gamble’s progression back into full competition, I felt it would be a good idea to do a couple of lower level events — ideally with some new fences to get him back into “brave” mode.  So we went to Twisted Pine this weekend to do a Training Level event.  There wasn’t a lot of competition — there was only one other person in Training Sr. division.  But her name is Kelly List, who is a 3* Eventer, so while there wasn’t much competition, Kelly certainly provided an excellent quality of competition — so much so that I’d already written-off my chances of winning. But as it turned out, my dressage test went very well and I ended up just a smidge ahead of Kelly.  And, in fact, I ended up with the high Training Level dressage score of the day (I was also higher than the 3 junior riders, who I never take for granted) with a score of 75.48%.  I’ve never had as good a test score.  See the test here: Dressage Test – Twisted Pine Horse Trials – Training Division – Bruce and Gamble – September 21, 2014 Next was Stadium Jumping.  We had to warm up quite a ways from the Stadium course which was held in their arena.  Holding Stadium in the arena was a good decision because it poured buckets earlier in the morning and the footing could have been an issue.  The downside was that the arena was very tight.  I watched Continue Reading →

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A Quiet Summer — Slightly Bowed Tendon…

Every time I go out to ride, I look at the back of my horse’s legs. Even if I do virtually nothing else before tacking up, I know that if there is a problem with a horse’s legs, it is most likely to be exhibited the tendons and ligaments that go down the back of their legs — and mostly on the forelegs. So when I went out to ride Gamble on a morning tempo-run hack on June 3 — two days after my dressage lesson with Phil — I did my normal look and, much to my dismay, Gamble was showing a slight bow in the superficial digital flexor (SDF) tendon that runs down the back of his right leg. Crap. So I called Dr. Tara Foy out to have a look and she confirmed my fear that he’d “bowed” a tendon. We’d dodged the bullets with Gamble for 3 years, but sure enough he’d done something to stress the tendon. It wasn’t at an event and certainly not in the dressage lesson 2 days ago. So he must have done it in the paddock during his day off, of all things. Gotta bubble-wrap these guys I guess. Note, however, that he wasn’t ever lame. But one has to let this sort of issue heal, or you could ruin the horse. At just 8 years old and having completed 2 Intermediate level events, Gamble has lots of time left to compete. Tara took an ultrasound and sure enough there Continue Reading →

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Dressage Lesson with Phil Parkes: Working on Collection and Transitions

After reviewing my marks and the video of my dressage test at Grandview, Phil felt we had addressed the glaring issues from my first dressage test at Woodwind 3 weeks prior. So, in today’s lesson, we worked on getting us better collection and on downward transitions. Lots of work — and I wasn’t totally getting the downward transitions until at the very end of the lesson, but Gamble and I finally started to get the feel of it. After a brief warm-up, Phil worked on Gamble for about 15 minutes to get a handle on what Gamble is capable of. See video below: For collection, my hands have to be prepared for quite a bit of resistance and I need to drive Gamble with my legs into that resistance. He may pop his head into the air, but most of the time now he is figuring it out. We want to harness that energy out of his hind end and get him more powerful with each stride. Not faster — more powerful, which means a bit more hang time with each stride. I need to work on keeping my hands lower — down at my knees if I have to — and driving with consistent leg (reinforced with a tap of the whip, if necessary) to keep Gamble engaged. For collection, we want to “compress” his stride — but that doesn’t mean slower. Again, the energy needs to be in his legs, and his back needs to support me (i.e. Continue Reading →

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Pace Run – 6 km at Prelim Speed

It has been 5 days since our Intermediate event at Grandview and while I don’t think Gamble over-stressed himself on the XC there (it was just 3 km), I didn’t want to work him too hard tonight. It’s always a balance of trying to find that workout that keeps him fit (and gets him fitter) but doesn’t stress his legs too much. With a month until the next Event, we have lots of time to get him fit, so I aimed for 6 km at Preliminary speed — 1:55 per km. Now, we were doing it along the side of the cornfield and there isn’t a lot of area to turn around at the top end, so we were galloping a bit faster than the 1:55 target in order to get time for our turns. Here are our splits: 1:58 1:54 1:56 1:54 1:59 1:57 He was definitely working at the last two repeats.

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Pre-Will O Wind Event Extreme XC

With our first CIC * event coming in 2 days, it was time for me to do our mini-extreme XC course in the valley behind our house. It went well — especially the big table fence, which Gamble sailed over. Here is the table fence: I’d say we’re ready!

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