Time for me and Sam to get in shape...tips? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 09-16-2013, 02:15 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Portland, OR
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Time for me and Sam to get in shape...tips?

Hello, forum :)

Tonight I was browsing horse sites and the forum (as usual) and after reading some threads about horse fitness, it occurred to me that I really need to get myself and Sammy into some kind of schedule. One thing I read that stuck with me was where someone said that just because a horse is a healthy weight and doesn't get winded when worked, it doesn't mean he's fit. The person compared it to a person who eats right and does a little cardio but then once a month to the gym for heavy weight-lifting that day isn't doing anything but making him sore because his body isn't conditioned for it.

I've had Sam for two months, and between the "settling in" week and a few (non-consecutive) weeks off because of lameness, all the riding I've done total is probably 15 30-minute sessions of W/T "work." And before I got him, he was a pasture pet for at least a year. When I bought him, he hadn't been ridden in two months, and that was the first time for a while before that.

Sooo...I want to come up with some sort of rough plan for getting us in shape. Do you guys have any recommendations?

I'm thinking maybe I will commit to working him in some way 6 days per week, comprised of a mix of days of W/T and longeing plus some in-hand walking on the trails.

And what about short mounted walks on the trail? Would walking on the (very slight) hills help build muscle without being strenuous?

Also, what about long-line work? I don't know how to do it, but I could learn. Is there any benefit to long-lining with a horse who's already been rideable for years?

Any advice on gently bringing a 10-year-old out of retirement?

"...and may your life be filled with good horses." Buck Brannaman

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post #2 of 8 Old 09-16-2013, 07:53 AM
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Kentucky
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This may not be a popular statement, but he is a horse. They have different measures of fitness than humans. At a w/t, in an arena or around the barn, you are not going to make him sore or tired in 2 hours. Bored, yes, but not tired. Even out on a trail, as long as no mountain climbing is involved, it will not hurt.

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post #3 of 8 Old 09-16-2013, 12:11 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 562
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I get that, that's why I want to start working up to more. Sorry if I didn't make a ton of sense -- I wrote that late ;) I eventually want to be able to do more work (cantering, longer rides, steeper trails) and more regularly, so I can improve his muscle and joints.

I'm heavy, and he's not used to work anymore, so trailering him out for a 2-hour ride in the hills isn't going to be fair. What I'm asking for is ideas for how to get him in shape and input on what kind of exercise is enough to start bringing his fitness to a point where we CAN do things that right now would make him tired or sore.

Edit: to clarify, in my first post when I said long-lining I meant ground driving.

"...and may your life be filled with good horses." Buck Brannaman

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post #4 of 8 Old 09-16-2013, 12:27 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Portland, OR
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should have mentioned that I'm heavy, and Sam has what the vet called mild arthritis in his front pastern that may be related to a slight club foot. So I think walking and trotting around with me for two hours likely would make him tired and sore. I'm trying to figure it what level of exercise is going to be beneficial without hiring his back and joints.

"...and may your life be filled with good horses." Buck Brannaman

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post #5 of 8 Old 09-16-2013, 12:36 PM
Join Date: Aug 2013
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Despite what greentree said, I have been under the impression that trotting was one of the best gaits for conditioning both the horse and rider? Your six days a week plan sounds like a good starting point to me.
I think that mild hills would be beneficial.

You could also purchase a book of arena exercises and patterns (or look them up on the internets), so y'all don't get bored.
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Zexious is offline  
post #6 of 8 Old 09-16-2013, 01:31 PM
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Canadensis, Pennsylvania
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Definitely work with the trot. Do lots of circles and bending too! Get him nice and limber and wiggly!

I live to ride and I ride to live
Horses are just angels without wings
11/01/09 <3 my horse left hoof prints on my heart
Lexiie is offline  
post #7 of 8 Old 09-16-2013, 02:14 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Orange County, NC
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Hills, trotting, and backing are the easiest and most effective for getting in shape/building muscle.
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post #8 of 8 Old 09-16-2013, 02:34 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 562
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Backing! I never thought about that being good exercise. Thanks!

And "limber and wiggly" -- love it! :]
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"...and may your life be filled with good horses." Buck Brannaman

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