Aged gelding - where to start?
   

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Aged gelding - where to start?

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  • Gelding rides in tom thumb
  • 19yo mare re-educating?

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    09-27-2011, 02:56 PM
  #1
Yearling
Aged gelding - where to start?

I am getting my 18 yr old APHA (1/4 TB) gelding on Saturday. I'd like to show him in lower level dressage and jumping. He already has a lot of training and has been used for jumping and barrel racing in the past, but he has been used for mostly trail riding lately. My vet cleared him as sound (he is a very sturdy horse). His last owner rode him with a Tom Thumb bit on a tight rein (he is a very forward horse) and it caused him to hold his head very high any time pressure was put on his mouth. Consequently he has a very thick neck but it's not muscled across his crest - instead it's on the underside of his neck. His shoulders, chest, and neck are very muscular. It almost makes it impossible to saddle him correctly. What are some ways I can "undo" this muscling and replace it with "correct" muscle?
     
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    09-27-2011, 03:19 PM
  #2
Yearling
He's going to need some basic retraining on how to properly lower his head and collect throughout his body. If the previous owner let him hold his head high when riding, then that is what he will be used to. Do exercises that work on lowering his head and relaxing into the bit instead of working against it. That should help give you a good starting point to rebuild the correct muscles.

It also sounds that he may have rushed past the bit a little? Is that why she needed him in a tight rein, even with the tom thumb? Teaching him to relax, bend at the poll, and give both ways to the bit should help him tremendously and give him a good basis to start learning how to correctly carry himself under saddle..

If he was my horse, I would start with bending and flexing, and then work on relaxing his headset and giving to the bit. (After all initial groundwork of course)
     
    09-27-2011, 03:34 PM
  #3
Trained
When I was restarting my old gelding, my friend (who was the trainer we were working with) had me lunge him in a surcingle. My gelding's problem was that his old owners had tied his head down so far that his chin was touching his chest, so that was the way he carried his head when he was working, whether he was tied down or not. We put a simple french link snaffle in his mouth (his old owners used a twisted wire snaffle because "that's all he would listen to"...but I won't go into that), put the surcingle on him and threaded the reins so they gave him enough room to extend his head down to get the "long and low" we wanted. It took a month or two for him to realize that he could move his head out from that cramped-in position, but when he did, he had the most beautiful natural headset and rounded up really well. It transferred well to the saddle, too (except he was extremely hard-mouthed from being ridden in a REALLY harsh bit, so we had to work through that as well). Just an idea.
     
    09-27-2011, 04:23 PM
  #4
Yearling
Thanks for the replies. My bo thinks he is too old to learn anything at all. I believe I can better him and really round him off as a nice horse so I can show him. Are any of you under the impression 18 is too old to jump? He's completely sound. My vet said olympic horses compete at that age, but i've not really researched that. Any advice on that would be appreciated as well. (just as a side note, I do not intend on doing any high level jumping.)
     
    09-27-2011, 04:27 PM
  #5
Trained
My friend's arab mare is around 18-20yo and if there's a crossrail set up in the arena, she wants to go over it. They actually have to remove the crossrails from the arena when they use her as a lesson horse because if she's pointed anywhere in the crossrail's direction, she'll take the little kid over it (she's used for lessons for the little ones because she's calm, yet responsive, with them and she's only 13.3-14hh, so she's not as intimidating for them...the other horses they use for lessons are the dude string horses and they can be a bit stubborn if they know there's a kid who can't MAKE them do what is asked on their back).
     
    09-27-2011, 07:12 PM
  #6
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Equilove    
thanks for the replies. My bo thinks he is too old to learn anything at all. I believe I can better him and really round him off as a nice horse so I can show him. Are any of you under the impression 18 is too old to jump? He's completely sound. My vet said olympic horses compete at that age, but i've not really researched that. Any advice on that would be appreciated as well. (just as a side note, I do not intend on doing any high level jumping.)

I think as long as he is cleared by a vet and started slow, he can do just about anything you want him to (within reason for his age of course). Low level jumping shouldn't be a problem with a clear health check.

I also do not think he is too old to learn. He has his basics, just needs fine tuning.
     
    09-28-2011, 05:11 AM
  #7
Green Broke
Never too old to learn! I brought my 19yo dressage horse back in to fitness last year, and as for under neck muscle, trying to get rid of it off my new mare!

Firstly, you have to think time scale. This is a minimum 4-6 month training programme as he's older and needs some re-education!

I have no idea what a Tom Thumb bit is, but for dressage you are better off in a snaffle. This also depends on how strong he is, however you can alter the thickness of the bit till it suits you. Remember a horses mouth gets narrower as they age, so a big chunky bit will only get in the way.

Under neck muscles are the worst to get rid of! I suggest to help with fitness and to get rid of these lots of lunge work. Make your first two weeks pure lunging, using a roller with elasticated bungee attached between the front legs so he has to come long, and low.

Then start riding, long warm up, lots of bendings, and a fair few breaks! Just till his fitness is up. Try not to ride in an outline constantly, the neck muscles will go and a top line will build up when he is working correctly from the hind end, relaxed in his back and comes long and low. Lots of leg yielding and shoulder in will help keep him flexible and you may want to look in to a joint supplement to help stave off any fitness because of approaching winter.

But lunge work is the best option for building fitness, and working on those neck muscles!
     
    09-28-2011, 08:22 AM
  #8
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by DuffyDuck    
Never too old to learn! I brought my 19yo dressage horse back in to fitness last year, and as for under neck muscle, trying to get rid of it off my new mare!

Firstly, you have to think time scale. This is a minimum 4-6 month training programme as he's older and needs some re-education!

I have no idea what a Tom Thumb bit is, but for dressage you are better off in a snaffle. This also depends on how strong he is, however you can alter the thickness of the bit till it suits you. Remember a horses mouth gets narrower as they age, so a big chunky bit will only get in the way.

Under neck muscles are the worst to get rid of! I suggest to help with fitness and to get rid of these lots of lunge work. Make your first two weeks pure lunging, using a roller with elasticated bungee attached between the front legs so he has to come long, and low.

Then start riding, long warm up, lots of bendings, and a fair few breaks! Just till his fitness is up. Try not to ride in an outline constantly, the neck muscles will go and a top line will build up when he is working correctly from the hind end, relaxed in his back and comes long and low. Lots of leg yielding and shoulder in will help keep him flexible and you may want to look in to a joint supplement to help stave off any fitness because of approaching winter.

But lunge work is the best option for building fitness, and working on those neck muscles!
A tom thumb is a straight shanked, single jointed curb bit. I ride him in a loose ring snaffle. He is very stiff but during a trail ride I took him on last week I worked on flexing and he caught on pretty quickly it seemed. I'd rather start on the ground with him since I think he would be able to stretch around easier without someone on his back. I don't have a surcingle to use on him but I do have side-reins, although I'd rather avoid using any devices if I can.

He is numb to "whoa" so I'll be doing a lot of ground work based on vocal cues as well... lol. Typically when I am working with a horse on using their hind end I trot them in a straight line one a loose rein so they can find a steady pace and they relax their head and back. But with him, if I don't have contact on the reins, he will trot faster and faster until he is cantering. I attached a photo of him. :)
Attached Images
File Type: jpg spot.jpg (63.3 KB, 50 views)
     
    09-28-2011, 08:52 AM
  #9
Green Broke
Try lunging in the side reins then! You can't do the long and low so well with them, and build it up gradually, but always make the inside rein a wee bit shorter so he'd turned to the inside, and use the lunge as an extended rein!
He's a stunner though! Bright eye'd and bushy tailed! ANd the lunging will help getting him listening to your voice commands, so you can do this when riding too, helped my youngster loads. I have attached a picture of Doey, my old man, just before I sold him on. If you look closely you can see the muscle on his top line! He's a german warmblood, so quite thick necked anyway. And please excuse my pained expression on my face, its a constant feature when I ride hahaha!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_0655.jpg (75.6 KB, 47 views)
     
    09-28-2011, 09:01 AM
  #10
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by DuffyDuck    
please excuse my pained expression on my face, its a constant feature when I ride hahaha!
I was more distracted by the plaid breeches!! Ha :P What a stunning horse. :)

Thanks for the advice. :) I'm excited to start working with him.
DuffyDuck likes this.
     

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