Health of Jumper
So I'm basically crazy obsessed with my mare. I went through hell and back to buy her and have been working with her for three years.
Her story in short: She was very well bred and is a full blood Arab. For the first 8-ish years of her life, it was normal. Training, riding, etc. (I wasn't at this barn then). Then for some reason her owner decided to stop riding all of her horses and put all 12 of her arabs out to pasture. There was nothing wrong with them, but the owner (who is also the BO) is getting older and has health issues so my guess is she just didn't want to ride anymore. So the horses, including my girl, sat for a good 6-8 years of living in the pasture. They got fed, but that was it, they didn't even get their feet done.
About a year after I started riding at this barn, my trainer pulls my horse out of pasture because she remembers how good of a horse she was and thought maybe she could be a new lesson horse. She let me help with her training. I basically fell in love. I've been working with her for about 3 years now and she is completely fit, completely healthy, and an amazing horse. (To prove my point we took first and second in all of our classes at our last show).
However, I love to jump. I almost didn't buy her because I want to jump. So I tested her out and started training her in jumping slowly and properly. Lots of trot poles, lunging over jumps, etc. Turns out she is super good at it and really likes it. Only in this past month have we really started getting serious about jumping. Before we would pop over 4-5 jumps once or twice a week, some weeks not at all. But lately she has been taking a bigger interest in it and hasn't had any of her old issues you see in green jumpers (running out, stopping, etc). Enough that in this past week we moved up to 2'3. I guess it is time to stop thinking of her as green, haha.
All of this to a point. My Arab is 15. She just turned 15 in April. It is her one an donly down fall as I wanted a much younger horse. (I also wanted a TB not an Arab, but that's a whole 'nother story). I'm really worried about what all this jumping with do to her. All in all I'm fairly new to Arabs as I've always worked with TBs. Apparently I'm told they live basically forever. My girl's mother is at the barn. She is 28 y/o and more or less sound, except that she is blind. I am crazy in love with her and I don't know if I should be jumping. She loves it, I love it. My trainer thinks I'm being crazy because there is not a single health issue with my mare. She is perfectly healthy, perfectly sound. She has good feet, and is currently barefoot.
-How often should I be jumping? I like the 1/week rule, but I also think we need to do it slightly more over if we are going to move up past 2'3. My trainer says 1-2 times a week would be ok.
-Does she need shoes? She doesn't -need- shoes, but if I'm jumping often, should she have them? Why yes or no.
-Does she need boots? At this point I haven't been putting boots on her because she was still pretty green and would hit the rail on occasion. She hasn't done that in quite awhile. My friend put polos on her one day and she didn't like them, kept pawing one leg. I'm thinking I might try open front.
-Should I even be jumping her? I don't want to 'wear her down' as I want to be able to ride her for a long long time. I'm not sure if sitting in pasture will help or hinder us. In one sense she wasn't used hard nor often for a long time, in another she wasn't exactly fit and healthy for staying out there for so long.
I'm just worried that I'm making the wrong choice, mostly because I'm a bit obsessed with her age. While she is not my first horse, she is my first horse that was this old. So I just want to make sure I'm doing right by her.
~He knows when you're happy
~He knows when you're comfortable
~And he always knows when you have carrots.