Bridget & Nikki Brown - Getting Fit
The beginning of December arrived and with it the start of Nikki and I's training program for the new endurance season with four very different horses. My two boys are Silver Zeph a 15.2hh Arab\Appaloosa rising 13 years old and Murphy Himself a 15.1hh Trotter\Appaloosa (we think) who is rising 15 years old. Nikki's two are Chikara a 15.2hh Welsh\Trotter (we think) rising 14 years old and Oakthwaite Sandsero a Arab stallion still growing but approximately 15hh and rising 6 years old. All horses were starting from different places and all with their own particular needs.
Zeph an advanced endurance horse had finished his season at the beginning of September and was coming off 3 months rest. Zeph's main weak points are that although he carries himself really well he tends to not really use his back end and therefore looks weak in his back and hind quarters. To try and rectify this I started with long reining partly on a slight hill, fairly slowly and for not to long. for example 5 circles in walk, 10 in trot, then 5 in walk again before turning round and repeating on the other side. This sequence was repeated twice on each side. Along with this I led him out from Murphy or the other way round mostly in walk, sometimes along the road, not more than a couple of miles or round the fields and up the moor.
We are lucky in that our farm is high up on the Yorkshire moors, our lowest lying land is around 625 feet and the farm itself is 800 feet and the top of the moor behind us is 1000 feet so even just a short walk involves hills. Towards the middle of the month we started to take Zeph and Sandy to pole lessons, these proved to be very beneficial especially when we were able to study the videos afterwards and see where we were going wrong.
Murphy also a advanced endurance horse is almost opposite to Zeph in that he has a massive hind end which he uses to great effect but if allowed he goes on his forehand and being a Trotter he trips easily. Not much long reining required for him as can make him even more on the forehand but have found over the years that a small amount of loose lunging in the round pen can work well. he really just needs riding, making him work into his bit properly and not just trundling along. My good friend Irene Willis-Feasby has been riding him quite a bit and I have to say is better at making him work correctly than I am.
Chico is Nikki's special boy, he came to us as a 2 year old and a very malnourished rescue case. He has been plagued with problems over the years, but despite that he has so much ability and is qualified at open level. He came into December with foot problems and at the beginning of the month with the farriers advice we decided to take his shoes off and try to work bare foot and with boots. We are still finding the right boots but his feet are starting to harden up and are a lot less crumbly. His work consisted of lunging or long reining in the field and loads of walking( in an excitable sort of a way) around the fields and the moor with small amounts of road work to start to harden his legs up. Chico tries so hard and has such enthusiasm for life that we have to be so careful not to let him do to much.
Sandy was starting from quite a different place to the others. He had been slowly broken in over during 2018 and his education along with learning to work also needed to consist of keeping his mind on Nikki and not any mares that might be around. He was already managing short hacks out and learning about the outside world, working well on the lunge and also long reining so the next step with him was to introduce travelling to the indoor school with Zeph in both the wagon and the trailer and working over poles. At first he was very dubious but he has come along in leaps and bounds (not always literally) and seems to enjoy the whole procedure. However as January looms we have been struck down with colds and flu so everything is put on hold until we recover but in the meantime the boys are enjoying time wallowing in the mud.
Bridget & Nikki Brown