Action Plan to improve my knowledge and understanding of a horse within the dressage phase

To allow my action plan to have a great impact on my riding I have decided to focus on my new horse to help me gain a wider range of knowledge and hopefully progress further with my riding. The horse I have just received Nebraska, was a trained point to point race horse, it had won a couple of races but was no longer able to continue its career further due to a slight tendon injury. Therefore I have been given the chance to change Nebraska into an event horse for myself. This will be a challenge because so many aspects of the horse will need to be changed. The muscles of a race horse have been adapted for him to allow his shape to be long, whereas compared to an event horse the outline of the horse needs to be round.

The muscles therefore are built differently (short and more compact) to allow the horse to hold this position. Dressage needs to have a lot of self carriage in the hindquarters, underneath him, and more uphill, off his forehand. It will be hard at first for Nebraska to find his balance as he will be working in a lot slower pace in which he is used to, each movement will also need to be a lot more collected. A racehorse is trained to gallop, whereas an event needs to be balanced in walk, trot, canter and gallop. Whilst the show jumping and cross country phases both include fences like a point to point would have had. The way you approach each fence is completely different to that of a race horse where they go as fast as they can at them. The position on Nebraska in the air and approaching the fence will need to be very different, the canter/gallop will need to be collected and a lot more rounded in the air ensuring he doesn’t brush through the fence like a typical race horse would.

For this project we have been given 6 weeks to work on my weaknesses. Horse riding can take lots of time in perfecting new moves and skills. Therefore the training programme that has been adapted to mine and my horses experience is very specific. This can be called the mesocycle, it refers to the stages a training programme is made up of.

This is called the principle of specificity; I created exercises and sessions that have been specifically made to work on my horses and my weaknesses. I chose what I wanted to improve and then decided on the exercises that would be most suitable.

Each week will include;

  • 1 lesson with my trainer
  • 3 Session by myself putting everything I have learnt from the week into practise.
  • 1 day off for rest.
  • 2 hack to work on fitness.

Each session will be about 45-50 minutes long.

Action plan to improve my cardiovascular endurance.

One of my weaknesses is my cardiovascular endurance I feel that it has dropped massively lately, this therefore isn’t helping with my riding and will need to be higher if I want to progress further with eventing, fences will get higher, lengths of courses will get longer. This means my cardiovascular endurance will need to be higher to ensure that my heart can deliver oxygen to all my muscles during long lengthy events to allow the strength to keep the horse under my control at all times.

To test my level of cardiovascular endurance I will do the multistage fitness test. This will allow me to see my level of fitness. I will then retest myself after the 6 week action plan and see weather my training programme has worked. This will be shown by reaching a higher level in the multistage fitness test.

I will be doing various running courses which I have planned out around the fields situated by my house.

Course 1; A flat course.

Course 2; A course with different gradients of terrain.

Course 3; A long course with lots of different gradients of terrain.

By including hills will allow muscles to work harder and therefore raise the heart rate and make myself work in my continuous training zone because it will be putting stress on my cardiovascular and respiratory systems. By having different courses also prevents boredom this can also be known as the principle of variance.

To start off with I will run the courses once each week. I will record the times and set my goals there after. Each week I will set targets using the results obtained from the week before:

Week by week running guidance.

Week 1 Week 4

Course 1 Course 1

Course 2 Course 2

Course 3

Week 2

Course 1 Week 5

Course 2 Course 1 [2laps]

Course 2 [2laps]

Week 3 Course 3 [2laps]

Course 1 Course 2 Week 6

Course 3 Course 1 [2laps]

Course 2 [2laps]

Course 3 [2laps]

As the training programme progresses I will introduce the principle of overload, where the frequency will be increased and the amount of times I run each course a day e.g. running course 1 twice instead of once. This will therefore make my body work harder than normal, by increasing the amount of work it has to perform will allow the body to gradually adapt to your new fitness level. Its important to analyse my performance so I can see when adaptations have incurred and will know when to bring into to consideration the principle of progression and start to overload. This is why I will be timing every session and seeing if I have made any progress. Each week is made up of a micro cycle, it’s a short training programme that can be effective and will get changed week on week depending on my performance. I will also record my heart rate each week. My heart rate is the number of times my heart beats a minute. I will measure my pulse on the radial artery at my wrist, below the thumb. I am going to record my pulse before I do my run, straight after I have finished and then 1 and 3 minutes after. I will do this to see if my recovery rate decreases, is so this means that I am fitter. Various changes should occur over the 6 weeks

  • Blood volume may increase.
  • Arteries get larger and more elastic.
  • Resting HR gets lower.
  • After exercise HR returns to normal quicker.
  • More exchange of O2 and CO2.
  • More capillaries.
  • Better gas exchange.

When completing this action plan, I must take into account other exercise that I participate in. I’m a keen hockey player and will shortly be going away on hockey tour. Where we will always be on the move at all times, this means my fitness should increase. I also train regularly with my tetrathlon team. We go swimming weekly and are under going a training programme with exercises to help us not only with the swimming phase but the running as well. This is another aspect which should help boost my fitness levels.

At the end of the training programme I will repeat the multistage fitness test. If any improvements have been made then I will gain a higher level in the test. This will prove my action plan has been successful an will allow me to become a stronger horse rider.


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