Advice on riding an old horse? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 05-22-2011, 01:05 AM Thread Starter
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Advice on riding an old horse?

So the horse I ride, and my soon be owning, is a 30 year old Morgan mare named Spirit. I actually think she may be a Morgan/Arab cross. Now I've been getting mixed advice on how much to ride her and how hard. Some people tell me she should only be doing super light riding at her age, and others tell me that I should just go for it, she'll tell me if I'm pushing too hard.

She dropped weight after I started riding her on a regular basis. She hadn't been ridden in two years before we got her. We had the vet come out and he said there was nothing to worry about. When we first got her she was chubby with almost no muscle tone. He said that whats happening now is shes tightening up and building muscle again from regular riding. He said we were feeding her right and she's in awesome shape for her age, beside her teeth, which are pretty bad.

Now this little old lady can GO, lol, and I love to go fast too. I think she would lope/canter/gallop the entire time if I let her. We've just been riding trails and in open fields. Some of the area is pretty hilly, but she seems to love it, and will take even the steepest hill at a run. She sweats a lot, but the vet says she's just out of shape, so that happens. I've been teaching her everything in voice commands. Lol all I have to say is "Lets go!" and she's off at a full gallop.

Does anyone have advice about riding old horses? Am I working her too hard? We go out about every other day for a couple hours. I've never once had to force her to go faster or to keep going, usually its the opposite, I'm the one saying enough already lol.

Plus does anyone know of new fun things I could teach her? If she was younger I would switch from Western to English and find someone to teach us dessage. She could be so much more then just a trail horse. Oh, and she was an Amish driving horse at one time, but I know nothing about driving.
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post #2 of 11 Old 05-22-2011, 01:45 AM
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I'd trust your vet. You can also get a second opinion if you'd like. Horses do sweat a lot if they're out of shape. Also, does she look like she's toning up/filling out? Because if she's just getting skinnier, then maybe something is wrong, but if not, then seems fine.

It sounds like she's doing fine. She's not showing any signs of pain or anything, right? And I'm not surprised since she's a Morgan.

Sorry, don't have any creative ideas on what you can do with her though.
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post #3 of 11 Old 05-22-2011, 12:51 PM Thread Starter
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She got skinny at first, but that was mainly due to the fact that her teeth are so bad she has a hard time eating hay. We have her on grain twice a day and theres grazing now that its getting warmer, so her weights back to normal now. She's mainly been adding muscle tone and losing her flab lol.

She doesn't show any signs of pain, she had some stiffness on cold days, but thats just age. Now that its warmer she hasn't seemed stiff at all.
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post #4 of 11 Old 05-22-2011, 02:15 PM
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I have an old Arab that is semi retired, so I know what you mean about how 'young' they seem. My old guy just LOVES to go go go. He would never stop if he were left to his own devices. My advice to you would be to remember to do slow warm ups, long cool downs, and leg care/supplements. They may seem like they can go forever but that work will eventually get to them.
I love when people work those older firecrackers :) Good luck with her!
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post #5 of 11 Old 05-23-2011, 11:40 AM
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As long as your vet lets you know that she is in good health, I would just make sure you condition her correctly before riding her all the time.

Start off riding for short periods of time. Maybe 30 mins, possibly twice a day. Just gradually build up. Make sure you give her plenty of time to warm up before you start galloping her around, especially up steep hills like you say. The best way to put off arthritis is to keep her active but you also need to acknowledge her age and give her time to warm up.

If her teeth are okay but she has dropped weight since you started riding her, I would increase her hay. Make sure it is good quality hay, as well. How long have you been riding her like this? If she's sweating a lot but you've just recently picked up the riding, she's probably out of shape. As you work through conditioning her correctly and she is still sweating a lot, talk to your vet.

I always think its a good idea to mix things up; it will keep things interesting for her. I don't see any problem switching disciplines on her. If you're currently riding her western, she might enjoy the switch to a lighter english saddle. Make sure you saddle fits her correctly, especially if she's getting sway backed!

Amber.
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. ~Thomas Edison
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post #6 of 11 Old 05-23-2011, 09:59 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by GeminiJumper View Post
As long as your vet lets you know that she is in good health, I would just make sure you condition her correctly before riding her all the time.

Start off riding for short periods of time. Maybe 30 mins, possibly twice a day. Just gradually build up. Make sure you give her plenty of time to warm up before you start galloping her around, especially up steep hills like you say. The best way to put off arthritis is to keep her active but you also need to acknowledge her age and give her time to warm up.

If her teeth are okay but she has dropped weight since you started riding her, I would increase her hay. Make sure it is good quality hay, as well. How long have you been riding her like this? If she's sweating a lot but you've just recently picked up the riding, she's probably out of shape. As you work through conditioning her correctly and she is still sweating a lot, talk to your vet.

I always think its a good idea to mix things up; it will keep things interesting for her. I don't see any problem switching disciplines on her. If you're currently riding her western, she might enjoy the switch to a lighter english saddle. Make sure you saddle fits her correctly, especially if she's getting sway backed!

She was properly conditioned lol, I didnt just jump on her and start galloping around. She was super herd bound when we got her and it took two weeks alone to get to the point where it was safe to even ride her without completely stressing her out. Since we had to get to know each other we took riding very slow. Its only recently that we started going out on trails around the ranch.

All the horses are on unlimited hay and grazing every day for a couple hours. Like I said, she also gets grain twice a day. The vet said that hay wont do much for her, since her teeth are so bad its most likely hard for her to eat.
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post #7 of 11 Old 05-23-2011, 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Spirit11 View Post
All the horses are on unlimited hay and grazing every day for a couple hours. Like I said, she also gets grain twice a day. The vet said that hay wont do much for her, since her teeth are so bad its most likely hard for her to eat.
Have her teeth been floated or does she just have poor teeth? If hay is hard for her to eat, then grain won't be any better--that doesn't make sense that hay is hard for her to eat.

Amber.
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. ~Thomas Edison
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post #8 of 11 Old 05-23-2011, 11:34 PM
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Originally Posted by GeminiJumper View Post
Have her teeth been floated or does she just have poor teeth? If hay is hard for her to eat, then grain won't be any better--that doesn't make sense that hay is hard for her to eat.

It does make sense, old horses are often missing teeth and the remaining ones are usually very worn.

Hay takes a lot of 'chewing' power therefor a horse requires pretty decent teeth to grind and digest it.

'Grain' (I'm assuming some sort of senior mix) can be soaked and softened making it easily digestible for the older gummy horse.

"If you can't see a thoroughbred has talent, you're probably too dumb to ride one anyway."
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post #9 of 11 Old 05-23-2011, 11:43 PM
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you deffinately can't forget her age! I mean she is deffinately an older horse but it really depends on the horse. deffinately trust the vet first and then trust yourself. its your horse and you know them best! the biggest thing is just to make sure she is sweating real good. of course a horse at that age shouldn't be trailered across country or anything crazy but i would just use best judgement! :)
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post #10 of 11 Old 05-24-2011, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by AztecBaby View Post
It does make sense, old horses are often missing teeth and the remaining ones are usually very worn.

Hay takes a lot of 'chewing' power therefor a horse requires pretty decent teeth to grind and digest it.

'Grain' (I'm assuming some sort of senior mix) can be soaked and softened making it easily digestible for the older gummy horse.
Yes, but a horse can't just eat grain, can he? What could she do to supplement hay?

Amber.
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. ~Thomas Edison
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