Building Topline/Muscle in 10 yr old Thoroughbred

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Building Topline/Muscle in 10 yr old Thoroughbred

This is a discussion on Building Topline/Muscle in 10 yr old Thoroughbred within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

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    09-02-2013, 07:07 PM
Building Topline/Muscle in 10 yr old Thoroughbred

Hi all- yesterday I had a saddle fitter come out to ensure my saddle was fitting correctly. I have recently purchased a 10 year old 16hh untracked thoroughbred mare. Previously I had been riding this same horse for a solid 4 years. We mainly plot around hunter style, do some jumps, nothing major. I ride typically once every two days, possibly three, for 30-60 minutes, and she is stalled for the rest of the time outside.

The first thing thr lady said was that my horse was "ribby." She has always been able to see ribs but has a big belly (see pics). I told her I didn't think she was underweight. She changed her mind later and said she just has no muscle (I don't agree completely, although she could build more) and that I just need to transform her fat to muscle.

So I later went on to figured out how to build the topline. We have no hills to ride up, but I saw muscle builder on smart packs and was planning on getting the pessoa training (lunge) system to help per her in frame and get a consistent lower headset workout without rider interference. Does anyone have any recommendations? Would the pessoa seem elementary for her since she is 10? I am able regularly to get her in a low head set when riding but apparently its doing nothing.

Any comments regarding the Pessoa system (or other devices) and generally topline building recommended. Also we don't have cavaletties.
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    09-02-2013, 09:17 PM
Also do you think my horse is too thin?
    09-02-2013, 09:23 PM
I think your horse is lean, and could use a few more pounds, but not enough to make me gasp:)

Here's a link to some gadgets that I really like referencing, the Pessoa is listed in here:

::: Sustainable Dressage - Tack & Auxillary Equipment - Gadgets & Auxiliary Equpiment :::
    09-02-2013, 10:22 PM
@Mupet - thanks for your response. I take it you don't approve of gadgets
    09-02-2013, 10:28 PM
Originally Posted by Kittenkittenkitten    
@Mupet - thanks for your response. I take it you don't approve of gadgets
Nope, I love gadgets if they're used the right way for the right things. The Pessoa system is not something I'm very familiar with and I liked reading that website as it wasn't 'advocating' it, but giving a good description of the mechanics behind some gadgets! Some of the gadgets I thought were ok, we're not! Lol!
    09-03-2013, 02:21 AM
First of all, I don't think your horse is thin, however she could use more muscle in her hindquarters!

I was having a similar problem with "my" (he is my trainers horse and was used a lot for beginner lessons, but I've since taken over and have been his primary rider) 13 y/o TB. Building up a top line is hard and takes a LOT of work! Over the past 3 months I have been working with Blazer 5 days a week and can definitely see a difference. I wish I would have taken before and after pictures, but of course I didn't stop to think of that at the beginning of our journey.

IMHO, the building of a topline starts from the horses butt. The horses hindquarters are their engine! When a horse powers from behind it results in lifting their back and then their head comes down BECAUSE their hindquarters are engaged and their back is lifted. You don't want to pull your horses head down, but rather have them push from behind which results in a lower head set. This is much, much harder than it sounds (at least in my opinion anyways!). What has worked really well for Blazer is that I lunge him in side reins for about 10-15 minutes EVERY TIME before I ride him. I will lunge for about 2 minutes each direction without side reins so he can get a little warmed up and then clip them on. I DO NOT put the side reins on tight, they are rather loose to encourage him to stretch down and out. I encourage him to engage his hind end and lift with his back legs by raising the whip (sometimes I have to crack it), and then gently tugging and releasing on the lunge line so that he uses the extra energy to come UP rather than go faster. I also do a lot of transitions on the lunge line.

Undersaddle I do a LOT of transitions. Transitions within the gate and transitions from gate to gate too. I do a lot of circles and changes of direction. Again, IMO, this helps keep my horse's hindquarters engaged and prevents him from falling on his forehand. I have also been doing raised cavelitti to help him really pick up his back legs and thing about what he is doing. I have noticed an a HUGE difference since incorporating caveletti into his workout.

Also if there is anyway you can ride her more frequently, or maybe come out an extra day and lunge her with side reins that will probably help her build muscle too.

Good luck! It's not easy, but it is definitely do-able and SO worth it!
    09-03-2013, 02:24 AM
Oh, I just read the part about you guys not having cavelettis! We don't have them either, but we do have boxes that we use for jumps. I put a pole on top of these boxes and they seem to work well! Or if you have standards you could put the cups at the lowest hole and use that. Anything you can do so you can have a raised ground pole should do the trick! I'm not very good at explaining stuff usually, so if I'm not making any sense next time I'm out at the barn I can take a picture of what I use for caveletti and show you =)

lungeing, muscle building, pessoa, thoroughbred, topline

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