Fat Horse Conditioning
 
 

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Fat Horse Conditioning

This is a discussion on Fat Horse Conditioning within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Keeping fat horse in pen
  • Round pen conditioning

 
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    10-08-2012, 09:24 AM
  #1
Yearling
Fat Horse Conditioning

When I bought Sam, the seller was willing to keep him on property because he called him an easy keeper who got along with others.

Easy keeper my butt! He is a super dooper look at grass put on weight keeper.

After viewing some of the horse photos on here, and the fact that my boy has outgrown has saddle, I am becoming very concerned for my horse's weight. Not to mention that two VERY VERY LARGE men, who ride MULES to support their weight mentioned at the campground two weeks ago that my horse apparently doesn't miss any meals.

I can't restrict his eating. I can't move him to a sand lot and I can't put a grazing muzzle on him. I wouldn't do that if I could, he needs to defend himself. He gets picked on by the lead gelding at times and I don't want him wearing a muzzle when that happens.


Okay. Sorry, long ramble post.

He needs to be conditioned and I read on this forum that canter / lope is good for aerobics and trot for dropping fat/building muscle. I can't trot him under saddle at anything faster than a western jog in the round pen. Nerves. I hate the feeling that we are always in a bend. (I am getting woozy just thinking about it. LOL)

And, when I do trot in the pen, I can only go a few laps or I get dizzy.

Will lunging him in the round pen to work him make a difference? I am thinking that if I keep him at a sustained trot for 10-15 minutes a session that should be enough. I want to start this week out every other day (M-W-F).

I stopped lunging him this Spring after he completed 30 days advanced training and was put out to pasture. My trainer told me that lunging is for young horses that are inexperienced and/or hot horses that are stalled on high energy feed.

Since Sam had matured mentally a bunch and was no longer a hot horse derived from feed, it made sense and still does. He doesn't need to be lunged for me to put a saddle on him and expect him to give and listen. I don't want to bore him and create bad manners because of this boring work (or am I thinking too hard?)

Any other suggestions? I don't have any options at the barn other than the indoor and outdoor pens, which as I've stated, I can't sustain the trot myself.


Plus, at the moment, I don't have a saddle that will fit mutton withers.

Thanks
     
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    10-08-2012, 10:04 AM
  #2
Green Broke
Lunge him!! There is nothing wrong with lunging. I have a 21 year old that I lunge sometimes just to give er a change in routine.
I have a fatty pants too...when I got him he was being fed 2 scoops at each feeding, which is crazy, because I only feed him an 1/8th of a scoop and he STILL packs on the pounds!

Is there only a round pen to ride in? If there is an arena, just trot him in there, and you don't have to only do circles in the round pen, you can so figure eights, serpentines, etc.
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    10-08-2012, 12:26 PM
  #3
Weanling
Lunging can be helpful for any horse! You just have to do it right. If you just let him loose in the round pen and chase him, that could lead to "manners issues". I would ask a trainer (maybe not the one that told you lunging was only for young or hot horses;)) to give you a lunging lesson- they can show you how to hold/ angle your body and give you some pointers- maybe even show you how to use a surcingle and side reins so that he is using himself well when going around.

I would just make sure you start slow and build your way up to the 10-15 minute sessions of trot. You can do more short sessions with walk breaks than big 10-15 minute block to start out with. It sounds like he has had it pretty easy with just 1-2 laps of western jog at a time, you don't want to shock the poor guy too much ;)

Good Luck!
     
    10-08-2012, 12:34 PM
  #4
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by MangoRoX87    
Lunge him!! There is nothing wrong with lunging. I have a 21 year old that I lunge sometimes just to give er a change in routine.
I have a fatty pants too...when I got him he was being fed 2 scoops at each feeding, which is crazy, because I only feed him an 1/8th of a scoop and he STILL packs on the pounds!

Is there only a round pen to ride in? If there is an arena, just trot him in there, and you don't have to only do circles in the round pen, you can so figure eights, serpentines, etc.
Posted via Mobile Device
Thank you!

While I am sans saddle (the current one is leaving white hairs because he has become so tubby) I will lunge. I can't stay seated at the trot bareback well enough to work him into a sweat.
     
    10-08-2012, 08:15 PM
  #5
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by AQHSam    
I can't restrict his eating. I can't move him to a sand lot and I can't put a grazing muzzle on him. I wouldn't do that if I could, he needs to defend himself. He gets picked on by the lead gelding at times and I don't want him wearing a muzzle when that happens.
You need to restrict his eating, period. Assuming you want him to become & stay healthy for lots more years, not managing IR & other associated health & soundness problems for the rest of his life. Unfortunately that's just reality. As for grazing muzzles & defending himself, he's not going to use his teeth in defence, so that isn't an issue.

Quote:
He needs to be conditioned and I read on this forum that canter / lope is good for aerobics and trot for dropping fat/building muscle. I can't trot him under saddle at anything faster than a western jog in the round pen.
If he's obese, you will need to take it very gradually. And unless it's a huge round pen, I wouldn't advise going any faster than a jog trot with him anyway. Circles are hard on their joints, especially if he's obese so they're already under extra strain.

Quote:
And, when I do trot in the pen, I can only go a few laps or I get dizzy.
There's one reason I can't stand lunging!!

Quote:
Will lunging him in the round pen to work him make a difference? I am thinking that if I keep him at a sustained trot for 10-15 minutes a session that should be enough.
Yes, lunging, as any exercise he does, will be helpful. BUT keep in mind the above. I obviously don't agree with the 'nothing wrong with lunging' crowd - understand & consider the 'cons' as well as the pros before you do it.

Quote:
he doesn't need to be lunged for me to put a saddle on him and expect him to give and listen. I don't want to bore him and create bad manners because of this boring work (or am I thinking too hard?)
No horse 'needs' to be lunged. Yes, if you're going to lunge for exercise, it will indeed get boring for you both.... & dizzying!

Quote:
Any other suggestions?
Take him out & about for lots of walks, especially on hills. Ground drive him at a slow trot. Pony him off another horse. Ride him bareback. RESTRICT HIS DIET!
     
    10-08-2012, 08:35 PM
  #6
Yearling
As alread pointed out there are numerous health issues that come with a horse being overweight. From things you can see like going lame to things you can't see. I get worried if I can't easily feel ribs when put my hand on their side.
You need to come up with a way of reducing the amount of calories being consumed (while still allowing enough long fibre food to keep his gut working), but that's something you'll need to sort out.
Lunging can do some good to a point, but if you can I would look at ponying him some. You'll have to start it slow and short (you need to build him up). I've seen ponying done successfully from another horse, the back of a pickup and even from a little four wheeler (I'm looking to try a 4 wheeler next year). Riding also helps, even if it's just riding at a walk it creates work and burns calories while working the muscles.

Just be aware that horses with weight problems are bit like people in as much as things won't happen fast and you need to start slow and easy (but regular and consistant). Unlike people I think overweight horses are actually at risk for potentially more health issues than we are (but I'm not a Dr so I can't say for certain). You might want to talk with a good vet and see what they think.
     
    10-08-2012, 08:41 PM
  #7
Yearling
Forgot...you can pony from on foot too. If you're in good shape and your horse isn't you can easily work him on foot. I've done it with horses to get things going by just walking and trotting down the road, but you can do it in a large field too. It's only after they've reached a point that I wasn't able to run enough myself (they were up to going longer than I could) that I switched to using another horse.
     
    10-08-2012, 09:57 PM
  #8
Yearling
If walking will help I can bareback ride him at a 2mph walk for some time. That is his natural pace as timed and tracked by my GPS. I just hate trotting circles.

I don't think he is obese but he is not svelte either. And I ride him and work him good when we trailer to the trails. His stamina is still there. He would be like a person who after a nice long winter of comfy clothes couldn't comfortably fit into his favorite pair of jeans anymore. A few extra pounds. I'm worried that he will get worse hence my desire to burn some fat.


Thanks everyone for your help
     
    10-09-2012, 12:27 PM
  #9
Foal
As all things that have already been mentioned, be efficient in your exercising. Some people believe that lunging a horse will get it in shape, when in all reality they are only working a few muscles. I would work the horse from the bottom up, getting control of his feet, then work the high end, then the rib cage, the front end etc. Having a horse bending versus lunging him will make an overall fit horse versus just a horse that can run. Think of running vs doing pilates, both are good exercise, one requires less space and works your entire body.
     
    10-09-2012, 02:51 PM
  #10
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toymanator    
As all things that have already been mentioned, be efficient in your exercising. Some people believe that lunging a horse will get it in shape, when in all reality they are only working a few muscles. I would work the horse from the bottom up, getting control of his feet, then work the high end, then the rib cage, the front end etc. Having a horse bending versus lunging him will make an overall fit horse versus just a horse that can run. Think of running vs doing pilates, both are good exercise, one requires less space and works your entire body.
Thank you! That is a good explanation. The indoor round pen is great for bending excercises and I can do this excercise bareback. Bending is not about building endurance (aerobic stamina) but rather stretching and flexibility, correct?

Sam was taught to bend during his training period. I just didn't understand the purpose and how it conditioned a horse.

If I remember our training correctly, when I bend him I am picking up the inside rein and providing leg pressure with the inside leg.

I am also assuming I would do this in larger circles, with less stretch, during our reconditioning period. As his flexibility increases, I can ask for smaller circles.

I seem to remember that I am not asking him to pivot on his back legs, so the idea is to get him to move all legs through the inside turn, hence the larger circle.

I appreciate your response. I realize I also have to deal with Sam's healthy appetite, but before I start the discussion with my barn owner/trainer, I have to begin a physical workout regime.

I am sure he will point out that I have only been showing up to the barn 1 or 2 days a week since May to ride and that I am barely putting a sweat on the horse when I do. I admit it is true. I have been trying to have more quality rides (i.e., hilly wooded trails) rather than quantity of rides.

     

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