riding a mare for a friend... building her topline?
 
 

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riding a mare for a friend... building her topline?

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  • She looks good with a pony tail sticking out of her butt
  • Horse huge belly ribs sticking out

 
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    06-23-2012, 09:58 AM
  #1
Trained
riding a mare for a friend... building her topline?

Long story short I just went and picked up a mare that I'm riding for a friend while they try to sell her. But she looks dreadful at the moment and they'll never get what they want for her when she looks so terrible. I don't think it's a weight problem as much as just a muscling problem, but it's a problem all the same.

First thing I've done is put her on a big round bale so she can ad lib on hay. Ad lib hay, I have found, is THE best building block for good topline. My gelding only holds topline when he's on a round bale.

I have built topline back up on horses before but never from THIS bad. Her spine and her tail head are sticking out, and there are huge hollows behind her shoulder blades. She has a belly and her ribs are mostly covered, I think it's just a bit more groceries and then muscle that she's lacking.

I'm debating dosing her with worming paste to see if it helps get rid of her belly. She's most definitely not pregnant, she hasn't been in contact with any stallions.

I'm starting with lots of work in walk on a long rein, working on relaxing her and getting her to lower her head carriage a little. She is a big, young, nervy TB and has been off the track about 9 or 10 months, so she likes to run around very hollow. I want to build her topline gently, so I don't make her too sore, so if I just encourage her to come through from behind in walk on a long rein that should be the best beginning foundation.

We're doing only a very small amount of trot work, once I've built that up some I'll start her over trot poles. The owner doesn't want her jumped or even taken over cavallettis until she's built up a significant amount of topline, so trot/canter poles are the best I can do for now.

We have NO hills. At all. So hill work is unfortunately not an option. She doesn't understand backing up, so I'm teaching her, and that will also eventually help and become another topline-building exercise.

She doesn't know about seeking a contact, all she knows is being forced into a "frame".

Basically I am working with a VERY VERY green horse and trying to build up her muscles so that I can then teach her the correct way of going, I can't start her training with what I've got to work with at the moment because she's not physically capable of the work I will eventually be asking of her.

I love this mare, and would buy her if I could afford what the owner is asking.

Question is - what other exercises can be done? In an area with no hills to speak of, and jumping or cavallettis aren't an option until she's built up more... I could lunge or round pen her but I've only got side reins which will just encourage the false frame and I don't want to do that. Round penning or lunging her with no guidance for her head and hindquarter will reinforce the hollowness and I can't afford to do that either.
     
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    06-23-2012, 10:08 AM
  #2
Showing
I didn't read your OP thoroughly.. but

Stretches (and muscle building) for your horse

Feel free to browse this thread I made. Some good resources there for muscle building and stretches.

But fed on a good diet with consistently steadily rising exercise should do the trick.

Only a horse can decide when to use its topline but you can help them get there by driving them forward and encouraging them to stretch. Stretch on the flat to start. Backing up and trot work in a nice bendy relaxed state of mind (no bracing) will also help.

And *if* your horse understands side reins, you can lunge up to 15 minutes combined in those.

Now I have read it and I feel she doesn't need work atm. She needs to gain some fat and get to a healthy place first. When has the vet last seen her? Teeth need to be checked, worms via stool analysis, and she *may* need to go on a grain to fatten her up if 24/7 hay is not working. Then I'd focus on lungeline work until she gets enough muscle to cover her back comfortably before riding.

But that's just me, it's up to you what you do.

Also side reins do not force, unless you crank them down. They are supposed to replicate rider's hands and arms giving and taking with each stride. There isn't a false frame.. they truly let the horse learn contact if used properly since the elastic of the side reins is very consistent and does not jab in the mouth or be off in their timing as a rider's hands would be.
     
    06-23-2012, 10:13 AM
  #3
Trained
I don't think Violet understands side reins and working INTO them... just sucking back away from them into a false frame.

I'll have a read of your link, but if you think that my plan would work that gives me hope. Didn't you build up Sky's topline from next to nothing? That's pretty much what I'm working with here, I'll get a few more groceries into her and then take some photos to show where she's at once her ribs are all properly covered... she has a bit more rib than I'm comfortable with, but her owner only just found out she wasn't being fed (long story, basically owner's daughter was supposed to feed her and wasn't doing it) so she should build back up fairly quickly. She's not skinny as such, just a little lighter than I like.
     
    06-23-2012, 12:06 PM
  #4
Started
Congrats for taking on this project and taking the long road to building her up. Is there any way you could talk to the owners and ask them about selling her to you??? It sounds like they are asking a decent amount, but you're the one that's going to help make her worth that! She sounds like she can be a great partner for you :)

Either way - she's very lucky to have you in her life and work her properly and not rush her or false frame her. Hats off to you for that! Take pics - i'd love to see pics of her progress over time!
     
    06-23-2012, 12:19 PM
  #5
Trained
Re Sky's edited post; she's not as bad as I make her sound, honestly. Just absolutely no muscle along her topline, and like I said a bit ribby. She's not much worse than Monty was for topline actually. Light work is good for her, she's the sort of horse that does better in work (I've known her since she came off the track, she belongs to a friend's mother). Only like 15min to 1/2 an hour of walk with a little tiny bit of trot, until she's in better shape. The trouble is if I'm not RIDING her, the owner will move her back, because there's no purpose for her being here in the owner's mind other than for me to work her.

To CJ - I would LOVE to buy her, the trouble is the owner is firm on the price and she's not worth that much at this stage of her education. Plus I don't have that much. I'll be extremely lucky to get $1500 for my yearling. I am between jobs at the moment, so I'm lucky that Violet's care costs remain in the hands of her owner for now.

Violet has BEEN rushed, by the owner's daughter whose responsibility she has been. She has jumped 3'4" which IMO she is FAR too young for (she'll be 5 in a month and a bit), and she's been forced into a false frame which she was working in within a week of coming off the track and into her previous rider's hands. I'm taking her back to the very beginning and basically re-starting her education, doing it properly and slowly this time around. She's still young enough not to have been set back too far by the rushed "education" she has been given.

Let's see how we go, I noticed a marked improvement already in the space of one ride. One gentle ride at walk, just asking for circles and straight lines. She's already picked up condition, and I think she's on her way. She's a very smart mare so I can't imagine it will take her long to learn what I'm trying to teach her. It's just a matter of her body being ready for it.
     
    06-24-2012, 07:31 AM
  #6
Started
I tend to do lots of two-point trot with my horse and my friend's, keeping off their backs and letting them stretch properly without interfering with their movement too much.

As far as putting on weight goes, try rice bran (see the thread on that in the nutrition section). You'll need to keep checking the saddle fit too, sounds like she'll change shape fairly quickly.

Take progress photos, I'd love to see them!
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    06-24-2012, 07:39 AM
  #7
Showing
Quote:
Originally Posted by blue eyed pony    
I don't think Violet understands side reins and working INTO them... just sucking back away from them into a false frame.

I'll have a read of your link, but if you think that my plan would work that gives me hope. Didn't you build up Sky's topline from next to nothing? That's pretty much what I'm working with here, I'll get a few more groceries into her and then take some photos to show where she's at once her ribs are all properly covered... she has a bit more rib than I'm comfortable with, but her owner only just found out she wasn't being fed (long story, basically owner's daughter was supposed to feed her and wasn't doing it) so she should build back up fairly quickly. She's not skinny as such, just a little lighter than I like.
Sorry I haven't responded till now! And ah.. yeah then sidereins would not work for her.

And yes I did! We did a lot of trotting. He started out as a high headed giraffe and then slowly once he learned that contact wasn't something to run away from then he started to come down and relax. It took months... for him, since he was a rehab case. 8 months actually until his trot slowed down and his head wasn't giraffe-like.

But when building a topline, they will burn through a lot of calories so it's imperative to keep them at their current weight or a bit above if they're on the skinny side.. so it's nice to have them get some more hay via a slow feeder. That really helped Sky.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blue eyed pony    
Re Sky's edited post; she's not as bad as I make her sound, honestly. Just absolutely no muscle along her topline, and like I said a bit ribby. She's not much worse than Monty was for topline actually. Light work is good for her, she's the sort of horse that does better in work (I've known her since she came off the track, she belongs to a friend's mother). Only like 15min to 1/2 an hour of walk with a little tiny bit of trot, until she's in better shape. The trouble is if I'm not RIDING her, the owner will move her back, because there's no purpose for her being here in the owner's mind other than for me to work her.


Violet has BEEN rushed, by the owner's daughter whose responsibility she has been. She has jumped 3'4" which IMO she is FAR too young for (she'll be 5 in a month and a bit), and she's been forced into a false frame which she was working in within a week of coming off the track and into her previous rider's hands. I'm taking her back to the very beginning and basically re-starting her education, doing it properly and slowly this time around. She's still young enough not to have been set back too far by the rushed "education" she has been given.

Let's see how we go, I noticed a marked improvement already in the space of one ride. One gentle ride at walk, just asking for circles and straight lines. She's already picked up condition, and I think she's on her way. She's a very smart mare so I can't imagine it will take her long to learn what I'm trying to teach her. It's just a matter of her body being ready for it.
Oh I see, well I think light work with her and stuffing food into her when you're done is a good plan. She already sounds like she's coming along far (and thanks for bearing with my edited post, I always go back and add things if I can instead of re-posting) and you just need to keep on riding her a little and feeding her a lot and slowly push for a little more work under saddle.

She's in good hands :) Trust yourself and yes the link I provided should be very beneficial for you!

The MOST important thing to remember is you cannot force a horse to work their back. You can only encourage, so make sure you give her enough time and the right set up (soft giving hands, forward impulsion, loosey goosey) and she'll have to come to the conclusion on her own.

Best of luck :)

EDIT: Do make sure her diet is comprehensive though.. any sort of deficiencies make it hard for a horse to keep muscle and/or weight. That would be a frustrating process.. getting the work in but no improvement due to something she's lacking in diet.
     
    06-24-2012, 07:58 AM
  #8
Trained
Her owner is very particular about what she's fed unfortunately, I can't change it except to add more hay. Which I can't do, because she's on a big hay roll 24/7 and I can't put her on better pasture because she's already on great pasture. I think she needs more grain than what she's getting but her owner has said what she wants her fed.

I did have my boy on a feed that had a high rice bran content, and he picked up weight SO fast (he was underweight when I switched him to it), but it was so expensive that I just couldn't afford to keep feeding it.

I'm getting the strongest vibe of "I have ulcers" from Violet so I might let her owner know, she'll pick up weight faster if they're sorted out. It's cheaper to just treat for ulcers than to scope for them, and treating for ulcers doesn't harm horses that don't have them, so it's worth a shot... but it's not my horse so I need permission before I can do anything of the sort.

We had a little bit more of a trot today, Violet is very willing and wants to work more but she needs to be brought in slowly and gently... it's so hard to keep that in mind when the horse wants to do more!! Beautiful circles actually, with great lateral flexion... she's green but not as green as I first thought.
     

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