Conditioning for muscle? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 05-17-2013, 08:44 AM Thread Starter
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Conditioning for muscle?

So I now have access to a wonderful trail system and am starting my Lizzy on conditioning. Her weight is up now and actually she has quite the belly now. But she lacks muscle, mostly along her top line and rear. We have worked really hard on keeping her head lower than the giraffe look and now she moves nicely with a lower headset. Not very low mind you as she is an arab but just low enough where she's not giving herself that upside down muscled neck. So how do I get her to work more from behind to work those butt muscles?

Also is there any kind of supplements that can help? She's already supplemented with magnesium. I'm not looking for the "muslce building" supplements but rather something that is supposed to provide all needed amino acids and other nutrients. She will be moved over to just pasture in about a week. She will be grained once a day once on pasture. I can have her fed twice if she really needs it but lets face it, she's fat on grass hay. The barn provides all Purina products so I will be putting her on the Enrich 32 to provide something to mix her supplements into.

Suggestions on supplements and conditioning exercises?

Oh I should mention my goal for this year is just a couple novice rides. I don't even know how she will do in a group and if I will be able to get her to stay calm enough. Next year, if this year goes well, I would like to get her on some 25-50 mile rides. Oh yea and she's 20. Best recent picture I have since her massisve weight gain lol. (We moved barns and the hay quality is exceptional and they are on it 24/7)
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post #2 of 13 Old 05-17-2013, 09:37 AM
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Given her age (in the light of her past) you need to start off slowly and build up gradually constantly monitoring how she's coping with it. You also have to be consistent as once you start on a fitness regime for competition/endurance you cant let it drop and then pick up where you left off
To improve her top line you have to ride her to encourage her to use her back end which means she cant 'pull herself along' with her front end but she has to drive from behind. This link gives some good schooling tips and easier than me typing a load of stuff out
A Stronger Topline = Better Self-Carriage for Dressage
Also you should not allow yourself the excuse of she holds her head this way because 'she's an arab. In UK ridden arabian showing classes the horses are expected to work in the same frame as any other riding horse
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIQC-XEOdBo
Lovely to see her looking so well and I'm glad you've found a better place to keep her
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post #3 of 13 Old 05-17-2013, 09:51 AM Thread Starter
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Consistent work is possible now, we have an indoor :) So even if it's too crappy to get on the trail we can still work in the arena. I need to get someone to get some good pictures of us riding. She keeps her head pretty level when walking and when trotting it comes up just a bit. A huge improvement over what she used to do and just from changing her environment. Really did nothing training wise. Have I mentioned we can ride in a french link snaffle?! Sucessfully I may add.

I will be taking lessons this winter with the trainer but I just cannot afford it right now. So I'm going to read that link and see what we can do.

Also I read the whole new rider handbook for my local endurance group and I'm going to write down all of her stats from each training ride so I can get a feel for how she is improving and to make sure we don't do too much too soon.
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post #4 of 13 Old 05-17-2013, 09:59 AM
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Sounds like things are finally coming together for you - god knows you deserve it for the way you've persevered with her
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post #5 of 13 Old 05-17-2013, 10:10 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you :) I'm very happy with our progress so far.
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post #6 of 13 Old 05-21-2013, 07:34 AM
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Best thing for encouraging them to use their hindquarters and backs is hills. Walk them to start, then work up to trotting and eventually cantering.


There is no joy equal to that found on the back of a horse.
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post #7 of 13 Old 05-21-2013, 08:16 AM Thread Starter
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I have hills in the area. But the rain the last few days I haven't been able to get out there. Saturday we went on a 20 mile conditioning ride with some other endurance folks. She did really good and kept up with the lead horse most of the time. That is about her limit right now. She wasn't breathing to heavy or starting to trip or anything just started slowing down towards the last mile or two. The park with the hilly trails is 3 miles from our barn down a rather flat straight trail.

It's hard to get her to walk up hills she usually prefers to trot and if its a steep hill she wants to canter up it. Should I not let her and make her walk up them?
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post #8 of 13 Old 05-21-2013, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by poppy1356 View Post
It's hard to get her to walk up hills she usually prefers to trot and if its a steep hill she wants to canter up it. Should I not let her and make her walk up them?
The way I was taught was that the faster they are going up a hill, the "easier" it is on them muscle-wise (the opposite is true cardio-wise). Therefore, walking a hill uses the most muscle as not much momentum comes into play.

When I train (and the horse is fit), I try to do a bit of all 3 gaits during hillwork, but when just starting out I do much more walk and jog work trying to get that muscle base built up (cantering is the best for cardio, but I have found that is the easiest thing to build, the muscle is what takes a lot of long, slow distance).


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post #9 of 13 Old 05-21-2013, 02:00 PM Thread Starter
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Oh Lizzy will not be happy to hear about that. Hopefully later this week I can get out to the hills and practice some walking up them. This darn rain just won't let up. When we work in the arena I've been working on getting her to slow down her trot. I thought she had a fast trot now but the horse that was setting the pace could move.
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post #10 of 13 Old 05-21-2013, 02:38 PM
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Yes, hill work is a great muscle builder. When we are training at the house, i make my horse walk up some of the hills and i sit down. I let her carry all of my weight. Where at rides i lean forward and get off her back. She is usually not happy with me. LOL!
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