30 Days to Poplar Place: getting him fit

Gotta love the gallop days. Nothing but the da-da-dum, da-da-dum, da-da-dum of galloping hooves and the roaring wind (and Johnny’s roaring breaths) sounding in your ears as you balance on the back of a 1400 pound horse running for the sheer joy of running.
This weather is amazing on the days it doesn’t rain. A little cool out today, but it was perfect for galloping. And why I’ve never body-clipped before, I have no idea. Grooming time has dropped dramatically, and when he does sweat, it’s slight and dries almost instantly. I will definitely be body-clipping from now on. Incidentally, I need to post a review of the clippers I ended up buying (a great deal on eBay).
Our workout today made me feel lots better about his fitness levels. It’s amazing how quickly thoroughbreds get fit when you take them out for gallops. And gallop you must! Riding in the arena does not build the endurance needed for cross-country phase. Today we started off with our usual long walk, then trotted out for 6 minutes. Christine and I remarked that Johnny could probably trot the majority of a training level cross-country course and still make the optimum time. She said he looks like a standardbred pacer from behind. And, although he was certainly lengthened to the maximum extent, he’s definitely tolerating contact much better and actually listened to my half-halt when he nearly shifted into canter (I turned my wrist to check my watch and he misinterpreted it as go faster). His trot didn’t jar me out of the saddle quite so much today, and I could keep my lower legs on him without feeling like I was wrapped around a rocket. After our 6 minute trot, we walked until he got his wind back, then turned around and galloped at about 375 mpm for 4+ minutes before walking again for recovery. Following that recovery, we trotted two minutes, walked two minutes, then cantered (about 350 mpm) two minutes. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was a great workout, and we’ll tack on more galloping and trotting time this Friday when we go out again.
Tomorrow, if the weather holds, we’ll head into the arena for some gymnastics; otherwise, we may do some trail dressage. Rain or shine, we definitely have to ride every day this week. Only 10 days until Poplar Place!

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