Keeping two horses endurance fit can be quite a challenge. It's much easier if you go to races twice a month. The race becomes your conditioning ride and not much else is needed. While I tried to compete once a month, it didn't always work out, and so I spent my weekends conditioning (and several afternoons during the week). A solid conditioning ride in my area (few hills, but good sand) takes at least three hours, or more. That's about 15 miles. But it's not JUST the riding time. There's tacking up, untacking, cleaning stalls, mixing feed, cleaning horses, etc. Often there was also a 1 to 2 hour drive to get to the conditioning location which meant a lunch stop and another 1 to 2 hour return drive home. If we trailered out, I had to add loading, unloading, and parking the trailer to my time commitment. A three hour conditioning ride up Rancheria Road could easily mean a 7 - 8 hour day.
Do that EVERY weekend. For two horses. In the winter cold. In the summer heat. It got ... tiresome.
So the idea of schooling two dressage horses seems very reasonable to me. Since Sydney joined my little team, he's been ridden almost every day, as has Speedy G. I call it two-a-days. A two-a-day takes a fraction of the time that one endurance conditioning ride took, and I am a lot less tired at the end. I arrive at the barn between six and seven, do my chores, ride, and can be home by 9:00, not that I am, but I could be.
I am enjoying owning two horses again. And riding a second horse is really teaching me about using my aids. Here's an example ...
Teaching Speedy G the canter cue has taken awhile. Let's just say that he is a very ... sensitive fellow. Most people would describe it as overly sensitive or even reactive. They would be correct. I've owned four Arabians and all of them were the same way, very "thinned skinned." Speedy G was bucking and kicking during the canter cue because I was simply asking for it too "loudly." Now that we understand each other, it doesn't take much more than correct body position for me, and the thought, "and caaanter" and we've got it. Most of the time, anyway.
I've been trying to work on the canter transition with Sydney, but it's just me doing a lot of kicking and clucking, much like kids sometimes do with pokey ponies. He ... just ... wouldn't ... do ... it. And when he finally did, it was a pretty BIG canter. More of a leap, actually. So we worked on it at the lesson. Let's just say he's not as sensitive, or reactive, as Speedy G. I had to finally use a whip. We determined that my aids were just too tentative with him and he wasn't entirely convinced that I really wanted a CANTER. One tap with the whip got him going forward, and a sharper, longer leg aid told him that, yes, I meant canter. NOW! It worked like a charm.
Riding two horses takes time, but it comes packaged with extra learning opportunities. And besides, its twice the love!