Horse fitness - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 04-06-2013, 08:04 PM Thread Starter
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Horse fitness

My horse is skinny right now and he lacks his usual muscle tone. He has long winter hair but I can still see his ribs and his hip bones stick out. He needs more muscle along his neck, back, and especially his hindquarters. So I really have two questions…first, how can I help him to put on weight? And second, how can I help him build muscle? I need some exercises/activities that really get results. I want to get him fitter this spring.
If it helps he’s a 9 year old Quarter horse, otherwise healthy, around 1000-1100 lbs.
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post #2 of 12 Old 04-06-2013, 09:48 PM
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Is he just out of condition from time off over the winter, and what has your winter feeding program consisted of?
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post #3 of 12 Old 04-06-2013, 09:59 PM Thread Starter
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He was skinny last winter too. He should gain weight by summer, I'm more concerned with the muscle. He never had a ton but he had more, and anyway, I want to build him up even more. He's very 'sunken in' in his hindquarter under his hip bones.
He's been turned out 24/7 and fed grass hay twice a day.
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post #4 of 12 Old 04-06-2013, 10:01 PM Thread Starter
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He didn't get as much riding this winter. Its been so cold and wet, then he had a two month layoff, and I don't think he ever fully recovered from that. I've been giving him twice the hay the others get but I don't see a difference.
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post #5 of 12 Old 04-06-2013, 10:03 PM Thread Starter
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I know hills are really good. I have a long, fairly steep hill, plus shorter, steeper hills that would be ideal, just haven't gotten around to it yet. What else could I do in the arena? On the ground? How long does it take?
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post #6 of 12 Old 04-06-2013, 10:04 PM
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First, build up weight without exercise. If you can see ribs and hip bones, he doesn't need work, he needs weight. You cannot build muscle if there's no calories to work with. Then you can start bringing him along a slow and steady work programme including lots of walk/trot work, long and low, and lateral movements.


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post #7 of 12 Old 04-06-2013, 10:13 PM Thread Starter
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He gains weight when the grass comes out- should I just wait til then or try to put weight on him now?
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post #8 of 12 Old 04-06-2013, 10:14 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by JustDressageIt View Post
First, build up weight without exercise. If you can see ribs and hip bones, he doesn't need work, he needs weight. You cannot build muscle if there's no calories to work with. Then you can start bringing him along a slow and steady work programme including lots of walk/trot work, long and low, and lateral movements.
The thing is even when he's in good weight everywhere else his hip bones still stick out a little.
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post #9 of 12 Old 04-06-2013, 10:19 PM
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Any attempt at exercise or riding right now will only cause irreversible muscle wasting b/c the body is trying to meet the metabolic demands that exercise puts on it - therefore muscle will be lost permanently if he's asked to exercise in this type of condition and in the worst case scenario, he will always look malnourished with bones showing all over for the rest of his life no matter what you feed if the muscle is gone.

Have his teeth checked - sometimes it could be something as simple as that - and start feeding some beet pulp - lots of hay (free choice if possible) and add a little bit of bagged feed just to kick start his metabolism in the RIGHT direction (teaching it to gain weight and use calories proficiently for his body's systems).

If he was mine, I'd say no exercise until he met at the very least a 4 on the body scoring system, and then I'd up his bagged feed intake to at least 4lbs a day as soon as exercise began. Body Condition Score Chart provided by The Way of Horses
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post #10 of 12 Old 04-06-2013, 10:27 PM Thread Starter
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So once he gains his weight back he can be worked regularly?
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