HELP! re-conditioning an older horse? Still kind of new to riding?

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HELP! re-conditioning an older horse? Still kind of new to riding?

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  • 4 Post By Kayty
  • 1 Post By waresbear

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    01-03-2012, 03:59 AM
HELP! re-conditioning an older horse? Still kind of new to riding?

I Have a 14 yr old quarter/walker mare, same one in my picture. She's a big sweetie. However, she is REALLY out of shape, hasnt been ridden in 6 years, and we suspect abuse from the previous owners.( we've been told she was getting shot with a bebe gun by their kids) Were getting weight back on her really well, and she's really perked up, complete change since we got her. However, I need some tips for getting her used to riding again?? And back into shape?

P.S. I've loved horses since I was little and had lessons before as a kid, now 18, this is my first horse. (recently moved to farm where my family can have them)
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    01-03-2012, 07:46 AM
Well I just got my 2 horses like 6 days ago Kate is 12 and Buddy is , both are over weight low muscle high fat. Buddy is far worse than Kate. So we are doing round pen work to get them in shape and to help with some respect issues buddy has lol. It really seems to be helping in just 4 days I noticed Buddy has A lot more energy, and is ready for his outing every day lol. I don't work them long they are so out of shape it only takes 10-15 minutes to be a full sweat and we don't want to overdo it, then we just work on leading, back and so on.
    01-03-2012, 08:07 AM
I say this to everyone and I'll say it again.
Don't underestimate the power of just walking. Walking, walking and more walking. Actively walking forwards, over varying terrain, hard surfaces, soft surfaces, uneven surfaces. Nothing is better than lots of walking to get a horse back into shape without compromising joint and soft tissue soundness in the limbs.

If she has had 6 years off, I would only walk her for a minimum of one month, 5 to 6 times/week. Yes, it gets boring, but being bored for a month is much better than having your horse break down in a month due to too much work, too soon.

Once you've done your month of walking, her limbs should be conditioned enough and her cardiac fitness good enough to start introduce short bursts of trot work and later, canter work. Gradually building up the periods of time that you spend in these gaits until she is back at an appropriate level of fitness.

Remember, if you had not gotten off the couch for 6 years, then suddenly had to go out and carry a 15kg backpack and spring up a hill - you wouldn't pull up feeling too well and would be sore for days, or weeks and probably give yourself sprains, strains and muscle tears. You would be put off doing the same thing again and start to dread going for that run.
Same thing with a horse, if you get on and push them to the point of soreness and exhaustion straight off the bat, they're going to resent getting worked and associate it with soreness.
Just walk :)
    01-03-2012, 09:23 AM
I definitely agree with Kayty - just getting your horse back into simple exercises is vital before you push them any harder. You can take your horse for walks using long reining, so the horse is getting used to the tack again and also the feel of contact on their mouth. You can also do lots of groundwork exercises which helps build muscles and teaches them manners at the same time. If you're in the school you can make things more interesting with poles or cones and suchlike, anything to get them bending and starting to work their muscles again. Doing things like this means you're building their level of fitness and also building on your relationship at the same time.
    01-03-2012, 11:12 AM
Wish I could take my new horses for walks :( Probably could Kate but my gelding I do not trust to stay calm and not pushy yet so he just gets the round pen.
    01-03-2012, 10:43 PM
Thank you!! Everything sounds really helpful, we have a few trails that go over little streams and small fallen trees so I think walking her on them sounds like it would help!! Today I rode her a little, just walking, and mostly worked on circles and figure eights in our arena, cause she doesnt seem to be very responsive to neck reining( im starting to think she wasnt even neck reined like the girl I bought her from told me) but does well with normal bit reining( not sure if that's what its called?)
    01-03-2012, 10:52 PM
You can't expect a horse that has barely ben worked in 6 years, to remember everything it was taught earlier in life immediately. It takes time, just be patient :)
    01-04-2012, 01:08 AM
I totally agree with Kayty ; walking, walking walking. It's the quality of the walk that matters, too. So, you may start out letting her walk with her neck hanging down in whatever position she wants, but you work toward having her pick it up and carry her own neck , step under herself and step with vigor and have her step over things,, too. Don't ask her to hold her hhead up for too long at a time at first. Keeping her attitude good is really important, so being sure to not overdo it is essential.

After a bit, add some backing up, especially backing up mild hills.
    01-04-2012, 01:23 AM
Everything begins at the walk. Don't move to any other gait until he can do everything at the walk.
Walkamile likes this.

older horse, re-conditiong

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