Monday, May 6, 2013

Our Own Baby Badminton...

You want me to do what?
Wikipedia defines cross-training as "an athlete training in sports other than the one that athlete competes in with a goal of improving overall performance."  It's purported to be good for people and with all the reading I do on horses I'm coming to the conclusion it's good for them as well.  Supposedly it not only gets the horse more fit, it adds interest to their lives and thus creates a "happy athlete."

So, with this in mind, and with the memory of my recent attendance at the Rolex Kentucky Three Day event in mind, I decided to ask one of the eventer trainers at my barn how I might go about getting Sugar more fit for the summer show season.  She suggested I take the Sainted Mare out into a neighboring field and do some trot sets, starting with a couple of days of doing four 5 minute sets to see how we went and then progressing from there.

The field is set on a slight rolling hill, about a football field long and one and a half football fields wide, and surrounded on three sides by woods and one side by a paddock.  It even comes with a few jumps - logs, hay bales, a few old tires, and a small shed-roof.  I hadn't jumped any of them despite several previous trips to the field, but they've been tempting the heck out of me.  (Rational, sober, mature self-preservation instinct has prevented me from giving in.)

Sug LOVED being out in the field.  Her ears stayed pricked forward the whole time and I could swear she was smiling.  She bounded forward off my leg and moved out in a rolling, swinging trot, or at least she did until we got to the steep part of the hill.  Then the trot slowed, the head went down, and she grunted in time to her increased efforts.  She powered through, but I could tell she was happy when we hit the flat portion at the top. 

THEN there was the down part.  The sink-into-the-heels-and-try-to-remain-balanced-while-not-yanking-on-Sug's-mouth-or-slamming-down-on-her-back-as-we-try-not-to-fall-on-our-faces part.  This is waaaaayyyyy easier said than done, but by the fourth circuit I think I improved.  At least the mare had stopped grunting on the down portion of the posting.  I can see where this "riding out" stuff can be helpful.  If you can keep your balance in this terrain, perfectly manicured footing should present very little problem.

We did our four 5-minute sets, and she still felt pretty good.  By that time another boarder had joined us in the field, and we (two adult women and our 17-year-old horses) accessed our inner children and cantered around, giggling, whooping, and jumping some of the small obstacles.  (I may have indulged the fantasy that I was powering 'round the course at Badminton or Rolex.) Sug jumped brilliantly, really powerfully and round, and was clearly having a ball.  We goofed around for a few minutes, then stopped before we over-did ourselves. Together with our friends we ambled back to the barn and Sug recieved a well-deserved rubdown.

Dang, we had fun! I was grinning ear-to-ear the rest of the day. I'm looking forward to more of this cross-training stuff, and I think Sug is, too. 


A tired Sainted Mare.


  1. So glad you had fun and so glad you have a horse who is game for playing out in the field! Agree, it is great for their brains and great for rider balance. TSM is the best!

  2. And hey, maybe you could try out eventing....I bet Sug would love to go in a horse trials!

  3. Look at those ears! Must be a great jumper. ;)

    1. LOL! Do big ears make for good jumpers? She is a good jumper-- very balanced! Guess it must be the ears!

  4. So good for them...and get out of the arena and just have fun.