It's a really simple, low-impact plan. I call it the "Equine-Assisted Aerobic Workout", and there's no special equipment involved. All you need is a horse (any horse will work, but you'll get maximum benefits if you use a brain-dead stallion with lust issues), a pasture (the larger, the better - but even a 1/4 acre will work if that's all you have) and a halter. That's it. Oh, a full bucket of feed is optional.
So - the plan. Begin by making sure you are dressed appropriatly for your pasture. In my case, long pants (jeans are best, but sweats work), rubber boots (it's muddy - the better to work those calf muscles!), and a light jacket (the skeeters are murder this year). Gather your equipment - make sure the halter is hung jauntily on your arm; if you're using the optional feed bucket, fill it (great arm workout - a full feed bucket weighs about 5 pounds with the feed we use), and head to the pasture.
DO NOT use the gate - climb through the fence. It's better if the rails are spaced 1" closer together than you are wide, but make do. This is a GREAT pre-workout stretch - you have to tighten the tummy, squish the chest, and wiggle the butt to make it thru the fence. Feel the burn! (If you can't fit thru the fence, go OVER it - again, makes for a nice pre-workout stretch. If you just can't even manage that, put down the donuts and go thru the gate for now. But work on that - stretching is Important!) At the moment, leave the bucket on the OTHER side of the fence, out of reach of nosy equines.
Now, locate the horse. He (since I am using the Stallion edition) should be standing close to you, because a)he's curious and b) he saw the bucket. Walk slowly towards him (you're still warming up - don't worry, you'll be moving faster shortly!), and gently stretch your arm out to touch his neck. If you're lucky, you'll get a nice skritch in - but don't pat yourself on the back yet! The program has just begun. Attempt to get the halter near his head - as he moves away, move with him, attempting to maintain 5 feet maximum between you and him. (He will try to make you EARN this, and keep 10 feet away.)
After 10 minutes of briskly walking around, step up the routine. Attempt to stay within 2 feet of him - all the while trying to get the halter on his head. Don't get fed up when he swings his rump towards you - use this to perfect your jumping-sideways moves! (Do watch out for those back hooves - contact with them will end the day's program too soon!) Oh- and if you're using the Texas Scrub Pasture plan, watch out for the Mesquite trees - they hurt if you run into them. (Blood is NOT part of the plan!)
When you start to get out of breath, bring out the feed bucket. Tell him in no uncertain terms that he will get the feed WHEN the halter is on his head. Show him the halter and bucket - this is a great upper arm workout! (Because, of course, he's going to be trying to get his nose IN the bucket, and that's not what you want at this point. You'll be moving it around at a rapid pace - feel the burn! Remember to keep your heart-rate up!)
If you're exercising in a community pasture, so much the better - you'll have more equines participating. Makes for a more exciting workout - right now I am using the 4-Mare option. They are of the opinion that HE doesn't need feed, and they do, and they are also willing to go the extra mile to make sure my workout is productive. Nice of them - but they are not a necessary part of the basic workout.
By this point, you should be at the 20 or 30 minute mark. Move to a "safe" area (away from any other equines), and offer the feed again. You can even pour a little on the ground to tempt him, but remember - the goal is to get the Halter ON his head. Don't be too generous. Keep moving - your heart-rate needs to stay up. Give it a good 5 or 10 minutes, then slowly bring your movements to a stop, and try the old "pat the neck and gently move the halter around on his skin" routine. It...won't help, but it'll cool you down.
I am in the Advanced Program, so I don't expect to actually HALTER the equine. My goal is to see how close to his head I can get the halter. Last night, I actually got his nose in it...but he flung his head up in the classic "You can't catch Me!" move and backed away. Tonight I'm aiming for his nose in it and the strap alongside his head. At this rate, I have a good week of this exercise program before moving up to the much harder (and more calorie-burning!) "Remind him what lead ropes are for" program. I'm not ready for the "Back him and Ride Him" program yet - that ground is awfully hard, and I break easy. Maybe by Spring...:lol:
If the only Equine you have access to isn't a brain-dead, lust-filled, 2-brain celled but they're not in his head, idiotic stallion, your program will be much shorter. Try and find a younger specimin for this. If you can't, you need to add the grooming module, and possibly the riding module to your program.
For the record, Finn IS halter-broke, and he does lead. His halter was removed early last year (NOT by me!!), and he's been giving me a hell of a time getting it back on. Once it's on, he's your typical sweet, gentle horse. Right now, though....he's brain-dead, and