I know this is a strange question. I've owned my Appy for 3 years. Except for spring when grass is very abundant, he can be a hard keeper and has more of a thorobred build. I have always had trouble getting hind muscles on him. He has arthritic hocks and he is 20. (all well managed, and he is ridden 3-4 times a week, light to moderate work - flat only and trails).
I recently moved him to a new barn (end October). I was in angst over the decision, primarily because of the herd change. Instead of being turned out with 2 senior geldings, he is now out with a mid-teen mare and a colt and filly (7 months old). Many vets I spoke to, and others said if anything, it would keep him moving more.
The new barn also has bigger fields that have slightly rolling hills. Not steep but varying terrain, slants here and there and a few smaller, steeper hills. The turnout here is NICE. The trails also have nice inclines.
He has now changed from tall and lanky looking to seriously building muscle! He is starting to look like more of a standard, stock Appy. Hind and shoulder muscles to be proud of. I am not sure what's doing it. He is on 60% alfalfa but was on 100% last winter so don't think that's the difference.
He runs and plays MUCH more. The mare is herd leader and keeps them all moving and running.
Is turnout on slightly hillier land enough to help an old horse build some muscle? I must say old barn had much smaller fields and it was FLAT. Super flat.
Our trail rides aren't long. Never more than an hour, and many just 20 minutes now that it's winter and the ground is frozen often, however we almost always head "up" the trail at a walk or trot.
He looks absolutely FANTASTIC and I am super-psyched. He body composition is just changing here and I am trying to figure out what to attribute it to??
Has this ever happened to anyone?