Celina's Training Plan for Week 22


How much can I train with my horse?

Well, that depends... What do you want to achieve? What are you training? How much training is your horse used to? Does your horse find the training difficult or easy?

You see that the answer will vary in every case. But here you see how this coming week's training plan for Celina looks and why I train what I do. And maybe that will help you make a training plan for your horse.

Celina is young and relatively untrained. She is 5 years this year, and still growing as she's a big breed (Danish Warmblood). Last year she got a tendon injury in the field, which took most of last year to heal. She has not been ridden and is only slowly being introduced to signals, saddle etc.

So here goes our training plan: 

45-60 minutes hack on asphalt road, lead while I ride my Icelandic mare Rák.
5 minutes practice in moving hindquarters to the side from the whip aid.

10 minutes in-hand work in the arena, focus in keeping the right distance and opening the front legs.
10 minutes easy lungeing.

45-60 minutes hack on asphalt road, lead while I ride my Icelandic mare Rák.
5 minutes practice in moving hindquarters to the side from the whip aid.

10 minutes in-hand work in the arena, trying to incorporate moving the hindquarters to the side during movements (working towards shoulders in on a circle).
10 minutes easy lunging.

45-60 minutes hack on asphalt road, lead while I ride my Icelandic mare Rák.
5 minutes habituation to things touching her body.

Why do I choose to train the things I do with her? And not others?

If I had the time I would take her out for a trail every day for 1½ hour as well as do other training with her to prepare her for being ridden. I have three horses of my own to train and I do not have the time to train every horse for 1½ hour every day. If I had another horse, who would benefit greatly from hacking out and I could kill two birds with one stone it would make more sense to me to do this. So, the hacks are reduced to 45-60 minutes and those I prioritize highly for several reasons:

  1. Due to her injury last year I want to be thorough when starting her and all the vet's recommendations I could find advise on doing long "slow" hacks on a firm surface to rehabilitate from a tendon injury. This is my primary reason.
  2. My second reason is that she will become habituated to a lot of strange things while out hacking. Things that I should otherwise spend time on training in the arena. On these hacks she gets to see goats, sheep (although we have those at home), chickens (the scariest part of the hack at the moment), cows, other horses, black spots on the asphalt, drains, flowers, fences, houses, trees, cars and much more. Hopefully this will end up making her a lovely horse for hacking out although she is to be a dressage horse primarily. But diverse training is so important for all horses and many horses find hacking out to be a very nice way to spend their time (when they feel safe).
  3. Why lead her from another horse instead of just walking with her? To be honest I feel safer when I sit on the back of my trusted Icelandic mare Rák. The chance of Celina walking me down is much smaller. And Celina gets company, which helps her a lot when meeting new and potentially dangerous stuff. Celina is quite comfortable being alone, but science has shown that sharing difficulties with someone from one’s own species is generally better than facing those difficulties all alone. And I want the best setup possible for making her feel safe on trails. Of course, leading another horse (and especially a young one like Celina) requires that the horse you ride is very comfortable and easy to control. And luckily Rák has become this through many years of training.

For the in-hand work in our training plan it is my wish to slowly start doing some side-movements with Celina to work on her symmetry. For that she needs to understand the signals, and I find it easier to do short sessions and then train it often to learn new cues. The mental effort of trying to figure out what is expected drains them of energy. However, a short recess or changing the exercise can prolong the training session a little bit.

I will also this week start to introduce a little bit of lunging. Primarily at the walk, as she hasn't been doing much work in the arena due to her tendon injury. I could postpone this, but I get a little frustrated training this with her, as she often does a lot of jumps and exercises above the ground when she's a little unsure, and therefore I don't want to train this too intensely later on, knowing that I will have a more difficult time staying relaxed and impartial. Which will than make me less motivated to train her. So, by again doing a little now and then, I hope that she will become more accustomed to the work (both regarding her former tendon injury as well as her mental understanding of the task), so that I will be able to use lunging to build muscles during the next couple of months. And then she'll hopefully be physically and mentally prepared to be ridden.

And I really look forward to that day!!


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