How to get a horse in shape?

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How to get a horse in shape?

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  • How to get a horse in shape

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    06-11-2013, 10:50 AM
How to get a horse in shape?

I am working with a 17 year old quarter arab cross try to get her back into shape and ridden again after not being worked consistently for 3-4 years. She was a fabulous trail horse before. At the moment I am only lunging her when I can get out there(Once maybe twice a week.) I showed the owner how to last week so she might be doing some in between.

So on to my questions.
How much is too much for a horse getting back in shape? Right now I am just working on w/t and stop, getting her to listen on the line.
Is there anyway that I can help encourage her to round her back with out any other tack.(I don't have much.)

I can get her round and calm at the walk but when I ask for trot she hollows out.

And any other tips you might have would be much appreciated.

These are some pictures from last week, if they will load!
The first one is at the trot
Second is walking
Attached Images
File Type: jpg cheeky1.jpg (36.3 KB, 56 views)
File Type: jpg cheeky4.jpg (36.3 KB, 55 views)
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    06-11-2013, 11:30 AM
I'm in a similar situation with my horse as well as far as not being worked for a few years. It seems like a long road but if you make a plan and stick to it, you'll see nice progress as you go along. :)

How much is too much really depends on the horse, IMO. If you are walking and trotting her for 20 minutes and when she stops, she is breathing hard, out of breath, and already considerably sweaty, then take it down a notch. Pay attention to how quickly her breathing rate returns to normal. If it takes too long (over 20 minutes), then it is definitely too much. If you can get her to trot more like in the second picture, this will help lengthen and stretch her back muscles and begin to build some good muscle.

Exercises I like are more effective under saddle. Can you get on her and walk her? Try to encourage her to stretch down while walking by gently toying with the reins and using some contact. I use a wide and low hand to teach them to stretch down and continue asking her until she can walk around with her head consistently low. As you progress you can do this at the trot as well.
    06-11-2013, 11:41 AM
Thanks so much for your reply! I am not going to try to ride her until I at least get her to understand more how to stop when asked! Last time I worked her it was for about a half hour, she was breathing a little heavy but she was not really out of breath, nor did she break a sweat.

I am going up to day in a few hours and how she does today!
    06-11-2013, 10:54 PM
I'd be less worried about stopping on cue on then how she stops. As in when she stops is she hyped up?

Remember you've got more brakes on board
    06-12-2013, 01:52 AM
As long as you have ruled out pain issues, it's just a matter of time and repetition to get her comfortable moving in the frame you want her to carry herself in. Transitions from walk to trot and back to walk will help her get the idea to hold that soft, round frame she does at the walk, while trotting.

Start by lunging her along at the walk with her head down and back rounded up for a dozen strides or so, then ask for a trot. Yes, her head will pop right up and her back will hollow out, so only trot for a couple of strides and then immediately take her back to the walk. Round her up again at the walk and let her calm back down. Once she's calm and rounded up nice again, ask for a few more strides of trotting, then immediately go back to a walk again. Pretty soon she will figure out that she is only going to be right back to the walk and rounded up again, so it's much easier to just hold the rounded up frame, since she's going to have to walk and round up again anyway.

Quit the session on a good note and go do something else. Come back to it again later. Work at it each time you have her out. How quickly you can progress will depend on the individual horse and how quick they figure it out.

Oh yeah, don't make a big deal out of "punishing" her, just bring her back to the walk and round her up every time she gets her head up or hollows out her back. Then ask again. Just keep building on each success.

Once she has it down at the trot, then do the same thing with the canter/lope.

As for how long you should work her, just keep an eye on her. Don't keep going until she is breathing really hard or is sweating to the point of dipping foam, but good rapid breathing and a nice even sweat is just fine. Give her breaks to just stand still and catch her breath. And always be sure to let her recover to normal breathing and a cool body temperature before putting her up.

Another great way to get her using her head, neck and back is to work her over things that she has to be careful with and watch her own feet. Go for a walk around where you keep her (just by yourself, don't take her along the first time) and find some safe obstacles you can work her over and through. Find places to take her out and just see the sights, walk her over downed branches, send her up and down any little hills you may find, up and down through small ditches (check for safety first), if you have a small creek or stream, send her back and forth across it or walk through it while you walk alongside. Play with each obstacle for a bit and move along to something else. It all helps. And it's a lot of fun too!

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