One of Welle's biggest problems throughout her dressage career has been strength. She is a very fine boned, lightly built girl. She has continued to get stronger throughout the years but, she also keeps going up through the levels, so the demands of strength in collection and impulsion needed for the show ring have increased. The conditioning program for Welle is based on alternating strength training days with aerobic days. On Aerobic days, we go trail riding. The gaits, mostly walk, are kept brisk and powerful. If weather conditions prevent hitting the fields, then we do suppling exercises in the arena at a power walk with some stretchy trot. Strength days include hill work, cavaletti and grid jumping, and dressage training with collection/impulsion intensity. Cavaletti and jumping may be on the lunge or under saddle. All days start and end with suppling. Suppling includes stretching, bending to volte figures, leg yielding, shoulder in, haunches in, half pass and other lateral work. Some of these also induce collection, so can be considered part of strenth training, especially when transitions are included inside of the lateral movement. Also, very important, mini-stretches and horse-show stretches are included in suppling everyday. Additionally, after strength training days, Welle gets passive suppling exercises for her legs and joints while standing in the ties or stall. One note: when we ride in a clinic or show, we have to do "strength" workouts two days in a row. That is an exception to our training plan.
Welle gets one or two days off per week. After a show she gets one - three days off. Welle has all the orchard hay she wants and gets turned out in a grassy field for 14- 20 hours per day depending on the weather. She is kept in during rain and lunged in the rain if the weather is ongoing. Welle eats about 4-5 pounds per day of alfalfa pellets mixed with legends performance grain. She gets one supplement for fat, "weight builder". She gets electrolytes fed by suringe into her mouth when the conditions are extreme. She gets ulcerguard as prevention for stomach problems when she travels.
Remember there is a difference between keeping a horse and keeping an equine athlete. Since Welle is a competitive performance horse, there must be a balance between nature and enhanced domestic conditions. So, far, it appears her balance is ok. One note I would like to add regarding turn out. The quality of the turn out is important. At 14-20 hours per day, the turn out consitutes a huge portion of her diet. I watch her body condition every day and make adjustments according to what I see. Pasture nutrition can change weekly. I don't consider turn out part of any exercise routine. It is equal to a human stroll through a mall, or a walk to the mailbox. I manage flies vigorously. The best fly management strategy is most often ignored by farm owners: Keep the manure pile 600 feet (or more!) away from living areas and arenas. Flies mostly thrive near their homes. Drag pastures when horses are rotated off. If manure is managed well, then face flies and some other types will be hardly a problem. Really.
I hope you enjoyed reading these details of Welle's plan.