Keeping a horse fit

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Keeping a horse fit

This is a discussion on Keeping a horse fit within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • What is the minimum excercise to keep horse fit
  • How often should i ride my horse to keep him fit

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    11-05-2008, 08:50 PM
Keeping a horse fit

(going to say this not say lunging )

Okay, I haven't been able to see Sonny as much as I"d like's been cold and I've been stressed with college and homework.

So anyways, I just thought about something and I'm curious to see my examples:

How can I keep my horse nice and fit in the spring and summer months if I can't ride him too often or if I don't have time?
For some of the summer, I have a friend that would be totally thrilled to ride my horse for me if I can't see him often. She was my old riding buddy so I'm sure she'll treat him great...but what are ways to keep him fit?
Like different excersices or whatever.

Currently he gets no grain (well......I give him grain occasionally when I go up to see him, but not any time else)...and he's on unlimited hay...which I don't want to chance cause IMO it's healthier for him to always have something in his gut
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    11-05-2008, 09:08 PM
There is nothing that will replace good old fashioned muscle workouts. You could try more intensive workouts while you can get out and ride, that is, build up to a longer riding/training session and keep him there.
Working him up and down hills, crosstraining (like doing some little jumps, or raised trot poles, barrel racing, etc, getting him using different muscle groups), and lots of trotting on the bit, now hollow, will get him fit.
However, just like with humans, you can only keep up a level of fitness if you keep it up - if you slack off, and he isn't getting exercise, then he will not keep fit.
Another way is just getting a horse to work in liberty - that is, someone asking him to go through his paces, but not with a rider on him - a good forward trot and an even steady canter will be your best friend. Freejumping is also a wonderful way to build muscle.
Can you get someone to work him for you? What about a hot-walker?

Unfortunately with muscles, if you don't use 'em, you lose 'em.
    11-05-2008, 09:15 PM
Red face Fitting horses..

Well, if you are looking for a good appearance, the two things I do for mine as they are show stock, is of course exercise and diet. There are many show babies out there that do not get a lot of heavy exercise time but still look good. This generally comes from diet.

You said you don't use grain, and unfortunately that is going to be key to shaping a horse. Many performance grain products will enhance the horses top line and shape. It is a science with the trial and error process as to how much and what works best for yours. I will say for that equisit shape on the top line it will increase your feed bill quite a bit.

You don't have to do lunging in order to get shape. Horses build shape with minimal exercise, but exercise is important. 10-15 minutes a day a few days a week will make a difference. I work on stretching some days, light trotting others, and other muscle specific conditioning exercises.

The idea with performance grains and exercise is to balance them so that you are just conditioning the body, and not burning large quantity of calories as the grain will go to energy instead. Depending on how old your horse is, which sounds like a late adult, then adult to senior feeds is what may be needed. There is a feeding chart with most of these products, but I will tell you that they caution on the short side of amounts. Start out with the recommended amount, and work with it as you see what weight builds!
    11-05-2008, 09:32 PM
I've never been too much of a fan of grain. Sonny gets extremely hot on grain....and I've read that getting hot can be a sign of an allergic reaction to grain....and as much as I love how he can go for hours on end without getting tired when on grain, I feel that alot isn't healthy. Grain causes ulcers if given too often

I guess I should have named the topic wrong and stated...I don't care too much about muscles...we can gain those pretty easy with the trails that I have access to...but what I mainly want to know is how can I keep a good weight on him so he doesn't get chubby
    11-05-2008, 09:36 PM
The easy answer to that is to watch what he eats, and don't overfeed him.
I tend to lump fitness in with a good muscle mass, not just "oh, he isn't chubby" so I guess that's my mistake. I thought you were asking for tips on keeping him physically fit rather than "slender."
There is a huge difference between a fit horse and a slender horse.
    11-05-2008, 10:37 PM
Hot from feed..

You know, I have to agree about specific grains when it comes to causing them to get hot on it. I have to do a switch on my babies when they reach the age to start training. The one feed I start them on works great for weight addition, but it causes behavioral problems with them being hot, which is why I switch over to a less sweet feed type base.

As for the alergies, get a vet check on it, and see what they come up with! Always good to know!

If you want to stawy away from wieght gain on grains then you can try a different feed, such as alf-alfa. Using a second or third cutting helps as there is more flake in each bail. Another avenue you can take especially with hard eaters, are pellets. Alf-alfa pellets are great as its concentrated and easy to eat and digest. Its not a grain, so you shouldnt have any problems.
    11-05-2008, 10:40 PM
Well I can get him fairly fit with the trails...and alot of canter work in the pasture going up's more where he tends to gain weight extremely fast
It looks like he gained 100+ pounds since I've been at the new stables. Personally I'm thrilled in a way because more bulk for winter....but in the summer I'm like gah! Lol
He gets unlimited hay....any type of cutting...whatever they grab really (they do know which cutting is each bale though). He's in a pasture with maybe 7-8 other horses and they normally get 1 round bale a day in the they have grass.
There is no way I can limit him to food because all pastures have lots of grass in in the summer, and I've read in lots of places that a horse that eats constantly will have less of a chance to colic.

So really, other than giving him a nice good workout, there's nothing other than that that would keep him from getting fat? I don't mind if he's a little chunky, but not extremely

As for muscles...I gained that easily before so I don't think that will be a problem at all. We have some nice hills to canter up and I'll do alot of stepping up onto platforms and tires cause that will gain back leg muscles and back muscles (I believe it will at least)
    11-05-2008, 10:42 PM
MP, Alfalfa in high concentrations is bad for a horse's digestive tractl they can't handle the high levels of protien. I would not suggest feeding straight alfalfa ever, but using a mix with some other type of hay like timothy.
As well, a lot of people would argue that alfalfa can cause a horse to get hot.

Not all grains cause a horse to get hot. If you buy oats, then of course it's a hot feed. However, if you look at something like Enhance, they provide a balanced feed that doesn't make your horse hot.

Edited to add - if you're not controlling the diet at all and are not exercising him, then there is no guarantee about his health, fitness leve, or body condition. (You used as a general term here.)
The only way to get a horse to maintain a certain weight is to control the diet and exercise him.
I still don't understand how to expect a horse to remain fit without working him and without controlling his diet? Perhaps I'm missing something? (My brain is working at the level of a gnat right now mind you.. ha.)
    11-05-2008, 10:42 PM
MP, isn't too much Alfalfa bad for a horse?
Right now he's getting first cutting of grass hay. It's nice and green and not sunbleached or moldy...and probably in the winter he'll get some second cuttings also
    11-05-2008, 10:48 PM
I tried some Pelleted was the Blue Seal pelleted 12% protien I believe...and it still made him kinda hot...not as bad as the other type (which had oats and corn in) but still kinda bad. Also as I was reading the ingredients (I could be wrong on this) I believe it said that it had Wheat By-Products in...or some type of By-Product. I don't want to use anything with by-products in because of how bad they can be.

Most of the tack shops arounnd here only really carry the Purina or the Blue Seal.

I like Sonny on a simple he is now...just hay...cause I think in the long run it's healthier for him. I know alot of people that swear by grain to keep a horse in shape and/or gain weight on them.....and I know alot of people that believe hay will grain more weight and keep it on easier

EDIT: The reason I like him on the unlimited hay is that my vet, whom is one of the best vets around and I've many horsey friend's that use her, said that it is healthier for the horse to constantly have something in their gut. That it gives the horse a less chance of colicing.
The ONLY way for me to limit his diet is to seperate Sonny from the herd and have him by himself. I don't want that to happen at all. He was alone at the last stables and though he appeared content, I don't really think he was...but it was the safest for him because the fences were horrible on every other pasture.
I'm going to try to do alot more harder work with him, but make it as enjoyable as possible since he does get bored extremely easy and then he starts to hate work, then he doesn't want to be caught in the field, etc.

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