Getting a horse back in shape
 
 

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Getting a horse back in shape

This is a discussion on Getting a horse back in shape within the Horse Talk forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • I havent ridden my horse in a while what will get him back in shape
  • Get horse in shape over winter

 
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    02-16-2010, 04:58 AM
  #1
Green Broke
Getting a horse back in shape

I haven't ridden in several months. Probably only once or twice over the last year due to a severe knee injury I had last April and subsequent surgery in September. Day after tomorrow I'm due to have surgery on my other knee. As soon as I have time to recovery I'm anxious to get back into a regular riding routine.

I spend time with my boy several days a week and we do free lunging and ground work but nothing that has helped keep him in any kind of good shape (his feed has been cut back, but without the regular exercise, he's still turned into a poofball). He's a coming 13 year old purebred Percheron that I ride bareback and English.

What I'm looking for is how to get him back into a shape with a fairly smooth routine. How many days a week and how long should the session be? 20 minutes, or more to start out and how quickly should that increase? I'm sure some of it will be probably depend on how quickly he adapts.

I know what he needs is wet blanket work. I don't want to push him too hard with him being overweight but I also want to make sure I'm doing enough to get some results. I want to avoid injury issues by not doing too much too soon. We've got some nice sloped pastures where I board so I can do some 'hill' type work.

This is a video of how he looks right now. Like I said, he's overweight. I don't show but I would like to do some trail riding and horse soccer this summer.

Any thoughts and suggestions on how to get him going would be greatly appreciated! I'm thinking I'll be able to start riding by mid March so I want to have a good plan in mind.

Thanks in advance!


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    02-16-2010, 06:05 AM
  #2
Yearling
My mare also needs to get back to her regular schedule. I haven't been able to ride her with work, and all this snow. I've also been lunging her every so often to give her something to do.

I plan to start her on trotting laps around the pasture. (it's maybe 2 acres) Three times each way at first, and maybe canter a few circles. Making sure to have her stretch before and after. This will probably take 20-30 minutes tops. If you add hills to the mix, I'd probably start by just walking him up and down depending on how steep the incline is. Maybe mix it up by walking him up and down hills for 5 minutes, trot a few laps, go back to the hills, come back canter a few circles.
I will probably be doing this about 2-4 times a week. Increasing the laps, circles, serpentines, etc gradually. I do a lot of trail riding, so I'll probably switch back and fourth between arena work and trails. My trail rides are usually over an hour, and we mostly walk.
     
    02-16-2010, 08:41 AM
  #3
Trained
Walking walking walking and more walking. Walking is far less stress on the horses joints while getting the heart rate up and blood pumping. Walking up and down hills is best!

Think of it as if you were getting back into shape after a long time off. You wouldn't go straight out and run 5km. You would walk for a few sessions first to get your heart rate up, blood pumping and muscles adjusted to the increased strain.

Make sure that the work is marching and active, you want him to be 'power walking'. I like to start with 20mins each day for a week, then start to incorporate a few minutes of trotting into each walk session. Rather than doing one trot and then finishing up, I prefer to walk for 5 minutes, trot for 2 minutes, walk for 5 mins, trot for 3 mins and so on. It allows the heart to pump at a certain rate at the walk, then it has to increase it's rate into trot, then it can go back to a slightly lesser rate at walk, then back up again.
In humans that type of training is said to be the most efficient for burning calories and increasing fitness without too much strain on your body as the heart rate is constantly changing rather than remaining at a steady rhythm.

After a month of walk/trot work, I then start to add some canter into the equation. Just light pony club style canter, lots of big circles and straight lines to get him nice and loose and balanced.

Plenty of trot-canter transitions will start to build balance and suppleness, as well as promoting the increase of muscle over his topline.
     
    02-16-2010, 12:39 PM
  #4
Green Broke
Thanks for the suggestions! Gives me a great direction to start with. We don't do much cantering if any while riding. His extended trot is faster than most light horse canters. So it'll be interesting to give that a go!
     

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