Hi everyone. Quick question, does anyone know much about conditioning ponies to higher levels? We were blessed to come across a freak of a pony, who clears 4'3" with ease.
Is there much difference with ponies in conditioning aspects? Other related aspects? Joint care? Those that are friends in Facebook, can vouch, this pony can really jump. Has amazing movement as well, and is 7. He is a true 14.2. Believe his breeding to be QH, Arab cross of some sort. Pretty excited, would like some real input on ideas for developing him! Someone tell me how, will post some pics somewhere.
My experience hunting/ playing polocrosse etc. on them as a kid was that the big difference was in feeding them correctly. That said I would think of a 14.2 QH/ Arab more as a short horse than a pony-- neither of those are really pony breeds.
I'm a combined driver. My 13.2 Welsh gelding did over 14,000 meters last weekend during the marathon portion of our combined driving event. That's about seven times the length of an average novice level cross country course. I use the same conditioning schedule we use for our upper level eventers, one day a week of trot work (working up to about 7-8 kilometers - about 30 minutes at 13 kph) and twice a week we do canter sets, trotting as a warm up, then 3 X 4, up to 3 X 6 or 7. Ten days before a CDE we taper off.
Feeding ponies properly is of the utmost importance - this guy is a fire breathing dragon and gets beet pulp, ration balancer and a low starch chopped forage.
I suspect there is a bit of a trade off about this - the pony will get fitter more quickly with fewer miles, but he will probably need to BE fitter for each level (over Training) than a bigger horse because he's going to need more effort to get over each fence and take more strides to get around, and move his legs faster to make the time.
And I agree you will have to be careful how you feed him so he has enough to build muscle/strength but doesn't get over-fed.
He will probably need what appears to be a starvation diet and be just fine. My rule of thumb on the hot ones is to feed them as little as needed to get them to be calm and then add as needed to get the weight up, measuring the energy level as you go. You'll be measuring in handfuls, rather than quarts.
Gold- I haven't competed a pony at the upper levels, but I did the lower levels with one. I found that he needed a lot more conditioning than, lets say, one of my TBs. I was doing the kind of fitness prep I would do at P with a TB for N/T with the pony.
The issue wasn't that he was a pony per se, it was that he had short legs He had to take a lot more steps than one of my guys who was bred to gallop. He had a decent length stride, never had any problems with striding set for horses in show jumping/ stadium. Never needed to chip or put in the add. He had a big jump too.
BUT, because he did have short legs, he would have to work a lot harder on XC, and thus required more conditioning work than one of my TBs.
Why don't you all contact Courtney Sendak at Defying Gravity Eventing. She events her Connemara pony at Advanced, and I know getting his fitness right is tricky. She may have some words of wisdom, as I'm sure any of the people who evented Theodore O'Connor at the upper levels (KOC, obviously, but also Christian Trainor).
I feel ponies get fit pretty easily, but I think it is getting them fit enough to sustain UL speeds is what is the tough part. My two ponies I hunted were fire breathing dragons with very little effort (similar to TBs, even the QH type pony), but I can imagine having to do A LOT more work to get them fit enough to maintain the speeds we would hit hunting (they were fast little buggers) for 8+ minutes with huge jumping efforts, as well.
I actually emailed Courtney and asked her that very question as I ride a 13.2 hand pony myself at BN. Not that you shouldn't ask her directly, but she indicated to me, that fitness was not that big of a deal for her on her pony till she started going training/prelim. However, for me and my guy...he has to be in better shape than say the average horse, because he works very hard with his short legs. So roughly once a week in show season, I do 3- 3 minute trot sets and 2 - one minute gallops. That seemed to be all it took for him to make the times and he seems to recover quickly after his run.