I was reading Sue Perry's column in the March 2011 issue of Horsemen's Yankee Pedlar. Her title this month was "Getting Fit For Spring." Her recommendation for the average horse was to do walk work for six days a week (at 20 minutes a day) for three weeks before introducing trot work. She also noted that it would take two to three months of conditioning to have a horse that has been on a complete vacation ready for a one day competition.
My first thought upon reading this was, how do I convince John that he is only allowed to walk for three weeks?
My second thought went back to some discussions the trail riding group has been having about conditioning on their yahoo group. One experienced rider mentioned that she took a seasoned horse (he had done many 25 mile competitive rides in previous seasons) to a ride after only riding twice that spring. He had been misbehaving and she thought she would just pull him when he got tired. He won the ride with a nearly perfect score. Her point was, horses lose their condition a lot slower than humans do. And, each horse is an individual, so what worked for her horse might not work for mine.
One thing I know for sure, I will not be able to walk for three weeks. No matter how much ground work I do :) I think it is just a matter of going slow and giving rest days. I will probably do the same thing I did last spring, one day on, one day off. And hope for the best...