XC Exercises

With just 3 weeks until our first event of the season, the conditions were finally good enough outside to allow Gamble and me to do some schooling over some XC fences. After a good warm up of trot and canter work, I trotted some 2’6″ and 3′ verticals. Then I gradually added more fences — an oxer, an angled coop, some rails — and then put it all together to do a 1 m. vertical with 1 stride to a 1.1 m. oxer to a 1 m. angled coop to some rails on an angle followed by 4 strides to a (skinny) corner fence. Gamble did everything I asked of him and appeared actually excited to be jumping outside again. Then we did the log-to-4′ ditch-to-skinny combination and he was foot perfect. Finally, the triple steps up and down, followed by the 3’6″ drop and then double 3’6″ bounce-drop. The only fences in our repertoire we didn’t do was the maximum height/width table, the 4’6 drop and something into / within water. But with 3 weeks left, we still have lots of time.


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Dressage Lesson – 3 weeks to go!

Tracy came out to give me and Gamble a dressage lesson today. It went very well and I learned a couple of things to boot! 1) When making a tight turn, you need to keep the bend to the inside but keep pressure on the neck with the outside rein. The problem is that you don’t want to be hauling him with the inside rein, but more guiding him. And when you guide him, your hands can become significantly displaced from one another, which looks disorganized. So I learned that I can use a combination of my wrist and my elbow to take up the slack when I’m making a tight turn. 2) When practising for the final 10 m. turn at a collected canter, work on making 90 degree turns on a larger square. You need him sloooooowwww to do these but he has to keep the bounce. 3) When slowing down from the medium canter, just “squeeze” him down to the downward transition so that it isn’t too abrupt. At the end of the lesson, I went through the CIC ** Test A twice and it went well. I have the test fully memorized now, and many of the movements are going very well, particularly at a canter.


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Show Jumping Practice – 3′-11″ (1.2 m.) Oxer

Tonight we worked on show jumping at the height at which we’ll be competing this summer.  We worked up from a 2’6″ oxer to 3-9″, 4 repeats each.  We then put it up to 3′-11″ (1.2 m.) and I was going to be content doing it twice at this height.   It was a slightly sloping oxer with the front rail at about 3′-7″. I pulled out of my first attempt as I didn’t like the striding.  The second attempt went well, although we did it a bit long.  Then we did a third attempt and for whatever reason, Gamble wasn’t interested and put on the brakes.  But we went around and did it again and he was fine.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get that last attempt on camera. It wasn’t a wide oxer — just 2′ roughly.  But as we get more strength and confidence, we’ll widen it to 4′.  


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Tempo Run – 6 km

We gave Gamble the day off yesterday, but today we were right back at building his cardio in preparation for Cross Country.  My original goal was to go out at a trot for 1 kilometre, then pick up a fast canter (2:15/km) for another kilometre, and then do kilometres of gallop at 2 minutes per kilometre (500 m. per minute) or better.  Here are our kilometre splits: 4:43 (trot) 2:22 (fast canter) 2:04 (gallop) 2:05 (gallop) 2:12 (had to stop GPS while we crossed the bridge at a walk) 1:52 (gallop – faster than Prelim) 1:50 (gallop – almost Intermediate) 4:32 (trot) We then walked around for a good 20 minutes to let him cool down. We were working along the side of the roads on the shoulder, so Gamble had to be very careful where he stepped.  A bit to the left and he’d be on the asphalt (slippery in shoes) and a bit to the right and we’d be in the ditch.  But he was good and careful. I was particularly pleased with how well he opened up on that last gallop.  Without really pushing him, we were able to get to almost-Intermediate speed after already galloping 5 kilometres. We’re not there yet, but with less than a month to go until the first Event, we’re getting close.  


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3′-6″ Jumper Course. Gamble finishes without pilot…

Highland Green had their third and final Jumper schooling show this weekend and for the third time, Rachel Mutton got on board Gamble to take him around the courses. She won the first class (3′-0″) with an excellent first round and quick jump off.  She had a knock down in the 3′-3″ division so had to settle for 2nd place.  But it was the 3′-6″ division where it got exciting! There were 11 fences (including combinations) and she and Gamble popped over the 9th fence (#7b) a little high and Rachel lost her stirrup.  She kept going though trying to get the leg back into the iron — and while she didn’t recover the stirrup in time for fence the 2nd-last fence (#8) she and Gamble still got over it okay.  But now they had to make a sharp right turn to get to the last fence.  Gamble made the turn, but Rachel kept going straight and fell off. Gamble, being the trooper he is, kept going and did the last fence anyhow.  We had to stop him from looking for more to do! When we got to Rachel, she was lying on her back and blinking.  So far so good.  We started chatting with her. She knew she’d come off.  She knew her name. She squeezed Kim’s hands with each of her hands, and she could wiggle her toes.  She eventually straightened her legs and when she felt comfortable, she sat up, and eventually stood up.  Everything seemed pretty Continue Reading →


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First Speed Work of the Season: 5 x 1 km Repeats

We finally had a nice day in which to do speed work because the ground was finally soft enough to have a half-decent workout without worrying about damaging Gamble’s legs.  I wanted to get up to a kilometre of faster-than-intermediate pace (1:49/km), so the plan was to do a kilometre of trot and slow canter, followed by 5 kilometre repeats at increasing speeds, each separated by a 2 minute rest period.  Here are our splits: 2:12 (aiming for 2:15) 1:55 (aiming for 1:55) 1:37 (trying to keep him to 1:45) 1:35 (aiming for 1:35) 1:32 (aiming for 1:35, but then aimed for 1:30 at the end.) I’m quite happy with how Gamble did.  I could have asked him for another, but I didn’t want to push it.  But he definitely had the ability and the will. The only downside was that one of his overreach boots rubbed him raw on his left fore, and his withers were rubbed raw again as well.  I’m breaking out the old “holey” saddle pad (with the withers cut out) and I’ll look for some gummy overreach boots that are a bit lighter than the Supra ones I was using.


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Canter Cardio for Gamble – 2 km Trot, 6 km Canter

Gamble and I did an 8k tempo run today since the weather was so nice (hovering around zero C. but with sunshine)! Here are our splits per kilometre: 5:09 (trot) 2:59 (slow canter) 2:15 (Training level canter) 2:16 2:08 2:09 2:02 (Prelim level gallop but with a stop in between to go across William St.) 5:04 (trot) Gamble had quite the sweat on him when we were done, as did I.  It didn’t take long to cool him out though. My longest CIC** will be 3.6 km at a speed of 550 metres per minute (1:49/k.) which shouldn’t be an issue for Gamble.      


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Canter Cardio for Gamble – 3 km Trot, 5 km Canter

Gamble and I went out for some cardio today.  While it was a bit cool (-4 C.), the sun was shining and there were soft spots along the shoulders of the road.  I went around the block — almost exactly 8 km — so I trotted the first 2 km, cantered (targeting 2:15 per K) for 5 km, and then trotted for the final km.  Here are my splits: 5:17 (trot) 4:48 (trot) 2:17 2:18 2:16 2:03 2:12 5:54 (trot) Gamble was good as gold along the side of the road.  Cars didn’t faze him although he did take a look at a tractor going by us.  You could tell that he was getting a bit tired by the end of the 5th kilometre, but not enough that I had any trouble keeping him at pace.   That’s 11:06 in total canter time.  The most I should have to do this year (CIC** level)  is 3.6 km at 550 metres per minute (1:49 per km).


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Vertical Training – 3’9″

Kate has been doing a great job of setting up some excellent gymnastics for us.  My favourite so far has been the trot poles into an oxer — which we gradually raised to 3’6″ high by 3’6″ wide. Yes — we trotted into a 3’6″ oxer!  I never would have believed it.  And Kate figures we should be able to get up to 4′ and change.  Just goes to show that you don’t have to rush the fence — the horse can do it from a trot! All that being said, in competition we can’t do fences at a trot.  We need to do them at a canter or gallop and so we also need to practice jumping at the height we’ll be competing and at a canter.  With all the cold weather, we haven’t really jumped much. So since today was reasonably “warm” (around 0 degrees C.), I took Gamble out and did a bit of jumping over a vertical. We know that we need energy, straightness, balance and rhythm and today I was concentrating on energy (getting that “quality canter”) and rhythm — as well as working to set Gamble up for a good fence while letting him take care of the last 3 strides towards the fence. Here is the video of Gamble and me doing a 3’6″ vertical (3 times) and then two clips of me doing the 3’9″ height. I was happy with his straightness, rhythm, energy and balance getting into the fence each time. Continue Reading →


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Off Track Eventing tries Schrammo’s Snake Exercise!

Well, we’ve been in a DEEP FREEZE for over a month now. The horses are bored, the riders are frozen, and we’re running out of things to keep us busy in the indoor arena…. But thanks to Evention TV, we got to try something new today! Take a peek at the video below to see the Off Track Eventing team attempt Schrammo’s Snake Exercise. Find the original exercise & video at http://vimeo.com/86065367 or watch it below! Evention Tv Season 2: Episode 9 from Dominic Schramm on Vimeo. With this exercise I really got to test Oz’s adjust-ability and straightness on a bending line. I had to give up some control in order to keep a natural rhythm and Oz had to put his head down and stretch over the poles, figuring out where to place his feet. I already have a million other ideas that involve this basic exercise and can’t wait to try them! Thanks Dom & Jimmie! We love your channel and look forward to more exercises


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