Rescue mare needs to build muscle - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 15 Old 01-27-2012, 08:49 AM Thread Starter
Green Broke
 
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Rescue mare needs to build muscle

Ok, so I have been riding for 15 years and just recently got my first horse. She is an 18 year old Egyptian Arabian that was a rescue horse. She was extrememly underweight when she went into foster but now has gained most of her weight back. My question is how I should start her conditioning? She has no real training to speak of but does pretty well on a halter. Her only current issue is standing still (which is getting better every day) and getting in my bubble when walking. She currently is out in pasture 24/7 with grass hay and I feed her purina senior feed everyday about 3-4 lbs. She also has a heavy weight turnout blanket on her at all times except when I'm working with her. She is still really weak as her legs start to shake after walking just a bit. Not sure if that has to do with her being nervous at all though as she is quiet spazy still from being neglected for so long. She will take a saddle and a rider but I don't want to ride her yet as she is still to weak. I have never trained a horse before. She is very willing to do anything I ask I just would like some help on where to start. I would like her light trail riding by spring/summer. If there are any supplements or anything else I should be doing it would be appreciated. I am putting a picture of her below. Also I have only had her for about 3 weeks.
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post #2 of 15 Old 02-08-2012, 03:00 PM
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Since we've had such an awesome winter - I would say take her for lots of walks. Good way for her to build muscle and you can learn more about her.
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post #3 of 15 Old 02-08-2012, 03:16 PM Thread Starter
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Ah yes we have been taking lots of walks. Unfortunately she has more energy than she knows what to do with. We have gotten quite far as she no longer shakes when entering the pasture and I can even get up on her without her moving. Only issue now is she just wont move once I'm on her. I have found that she was trained at some point once she started to trust me she listens very well on the ground and knows how to lunge. But our round pen is quite icy or very very muddy depending on the day. I have enlisted some helpers to start today with walking her as I am on her to see if she just needs to be reminded of the cues to move. Any ideas on a good saddle pad? She obviously doesn't have the muscle on her back right now so she could use a nice pad to help with that until she fills out more. I am only looking to walk and maybe some brief trotting depending on how she feels. I would keep walking in hand but it seems I am in way worse shape and her walk is like my jog so that is making it difficult.
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post #4 of 15 Old 02-09-2012, 10:56 AM
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Lunging for sure. If you have a round pen that would be ideal for a horse that's never done it before, but you can use a lunge line if you have to.

Ask her to trot most of the time. No cantering for a while, as she is probably still weak. Trotting will build more muscle anyways.

From what you said above, it seems as if she may have a respect issue (getting into your bubble) and lunging is one of the best ways to earn respect and as well as a bond.

Do some research online about joining up after lunging. That will help your relationship a lot.

Good luck and congrats on the pony!


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post #5 of 15 Old 02-09-2012, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poppy1356 View Post
Ah yes we have been taking lots of walks. Unfortunately she has more energy than she knows what to do with. We have gotten quite far as she no longer shakes when entering the pasture and I can even get up on her without her moving. Only issue now is she just wont move once I'm on her. I have found that she was trained at some point once she started to trust me she listens very well on the ground and knows how to lunge. But our round pen is quite icy or very very muddy depending on the day. I have enlisted some helpers to start today with walking her as I am on her to see if she just needs to be reminded of the cues to move. Any ideas on a good saddle pad? She obviously doesn't have the muscle on her back right now so she could use a nice pad to help with that until she fills out more. I am only looking to walk and maybe some brief trotting depending on how she feels. I would keep walking in hand but it seems I am in way worse shape and her walk is like my jog so that is making it difficult.
Sorry I did not read this until now. I would invest in a lunge line if you can't use your round pen.
As weak as you probably think she is, she can handle a good 15-20 minutes of trotting every other day. That would be the best way to go about it. Just make sure she's walked out and cooled off before you put a blanket back on her.

As for saddle pads. I'm going to assume you ride english from the photo. Do you ride dressage, hunter, or what?


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post #6 of 15 Old 02-09-2012, 11:09 AM
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I'm not one to really give advice on something like that. I will just state what's been working for me. My paso was terrible, had no muscle, etc. He was kept in a small corral. Since being turned loose on our 40 acres he's muscled himself up just walking around. When I first got him his chest was almost concave. Now he has firm muscle there. I'm pretty happy about it and it required 0 effort on my part. :P
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post #7 of 15 Old 02-09-2012, 11:14 AM
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Congratulations on the new horse!

I thoroughly agree with the previous posters, I just have a smidge more to say. :)
I would recommend that you consider getting this book: http://www.amazon.com/Equine-Fitness-Program-Exercises-Routines/dp/1603424636/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1328803519&sr=8-1
It's fantastic at outlining what and how much to do to build muscle on your horse. It even has a special "older horses" section that outlines exercises that specifically target problem areas in senior horses.

Also, side note, according to that book (which references studies and stuff), it can take a year or more for the internal structures of a horse to become strong after becoming weak. So, even once she looks and seems 100%, her ligaments and tendons are still going to be playing catch up. It's just something to keep in mind. It doesn't sound to me like you're going too fast but be careful. :)

Do you have access to hills? Hills are fantastic for gaining muscle, especially topline muscle.

ETA: I'm thinking 10-15 minutes max. Of trotting. Since she is so undermuscled, the strain and torque of circles at high speed (lunging/roundpenning) is going to be so much worse for her than it would be if she were going in a straight line. In a straight line 15-20 minutes would probably be ok but I wouldn't do that to her on the lune line/in the round pen.
Do you have access to an arena where you could free lunge her? That's something I forgot to mention. I'm of the opinion that free lunging is fantastic for horses, especially those who are under muscled. I found with my mare that she learned how to carry herself (since the lunge line pulls on the horse, no matter how loose it is) so much better due to being free lunged and there's less torque and strain on her legs because she'll be moving in more of a large rectangle vs a circle. And! Side benefit: she'll learn to watch your body language more closely for cues because you're farther from her.

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzaner gelding
Hazel - 14 year old Angora goat

Atticus - 4 year old LaMancha/Alpine cross goat

~
Rest peacefully, Lacey.

Last edited by Wallaby; 02-09-2012 at 11:22 AM.
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post #8 of 15 Old 02-09-2012, 11:15 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, as for lunging I do have a line and luckily there are outdoor arenas just off the property we can use. She did pretty well and she seems to prefer to trot but she just doesn't want to stop. I do walk her for a while in the round pen as she is much more comfortable there and slows down quite a bit. I currently just have an AP english saddle. Eventually I would like to get her into dressage but that is not in the near future so I will be mostly just be casually riding this year. I have had a recomendation on a good half pad but I would like a few opinions as in the past I only leased a horse and all tack was included so I never paid much attention to it. Is it ok to work her every day just maybe only a little on off days? She gets very antsy and enjoys being taken out everyday. If I don't take her out to walk at least in the pasture she doesn't really want to go back to her small pasture/paddock area. Thank you for any replies.
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post #9 of 15 Old 02-09-2012, 11:18 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallaby View Post
Congratulations on the new horse!

I thoroughly agree with the previous posters, I just have a smidge more to say. :)
I would recommend that you consider getting this book: Amazon.com: Equine Fitness: A Program of Exercises and Routines for Your Horse (9781603424639): Jec Aristotle Ballou: Books

It's fantastic at outlining what and how much to do to build muscle on your horse. It even has a special "older horses" section that outlines exercises that specifically target problem areas in senior horses.

Also, side note, according to that book (which references studies and stuff), it can take a year or more for the internal structures of a horse to become strong after becoming weak. So, even once she looks and seems 100%, her ligaments and tendons are still going to be playing catch up. It's just something to keep in mind. It doesn't sound to me like you're going too fast but be careful. :)

Do you have access to hills? Hills are fantastic for gaining muscle, especially topline muscle.

Thanks, I will look into that book. Unfortunately it is kinda flat in this particular area where she is. But once summer is here she will hopefully go to a bigger pasture area. I understand it will take quite some time for her to get back to what she should be and I am ok with that. I am in no hurry for her to do anything other than light trail riding for the summer.
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post #10 of 15 Old 02-09-2012, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by poppy1356 View Post
Is it ok to work her every day just maybe only a little on off days?
I would seriously work her (trotting etc) every other day. You know how after you work out hard your body needs to recover? It's the same for horses. I've found that a recovery day in between hard (for her body, right now, this is most likely hard) hard work does wonders.
You could definitely get her out everyday and work on ground work (respecting space, going for walks, etc) in her "days off" but I wouldn't be trotting her or anything on those days.
I know she seems like she has energy but her mind is in a different state than her body. Try getting her mind to work on those days off and I bet you'll see a decrease in over all "crazy".

I have this pad (I got it from somewhere else so it was cheaper, look on Amazon or something) and I really like it. It washes well and it's very soft. It's not the thickest pad out there but I really like it.
Roma Ecole Star Quilt Close Contact Saddle Pad and Quilted Close Contact Pads | EQUESTRIAN COLLECTIONS.COM

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzaner gelding
Hazel - 14 year old Angora goat

Atticus - 4 year old LaMancha/Alpine cross goat

~
Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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