How Much is too Much?

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How Much is too Much?

This is a discussion on How Much is too Much? within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category

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  • 2 Post By JustDressageIt
  • 4 Post By Saranda
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  • 1 Post By Ashsunnyeventer

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    09-18-2012, 05:21 PM
How Much is too Much?

I've recently bought a 4yo TB mare (Not even 2 months ago). I work her 5-6 days a week and we jump 2-3 of those days. When we jump, it's nothing big (2'3 max), but I do work her for about an hour every time I ride. She gets bored and distracted easily, so I usually do harder work for an hour with a few walk breaks. If I can only ride her 5 days a week, I will go out one day and just do groundwork (we are also working on learning tricks). No matter what, she always gets 1 day a week where I just leave her be. I don't want to do any damage to her bones since she is still growing, and I don't want to fry her brain asking too much either. I want her to want to work for me.

How many days should I be riding her, and how many of those days can I be jumping? Is an hour too long to ride her 5-6 days a week? And will all of this work be bad for her mentally? I don't want her to be sour as a baby.
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    09-18-2012, 05:40 PM
I would say that you may be asking too much at a young age. Perhaps 4-5 days a week would be more prudent, and I suggest only jumping 1-2 days a week, if that.
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Saranda and twiz454 like this.
    09-18-2012, 05:55 PM
Ok thank you :) When I first got her I rode her 4 days a week, but if she got more than 1 day off in a row, she would buck and try to gallop when I was riding her. She is also eating about 14 pounds of grain/senior feed a day plus all she can eat hay to help with her weight. After I upped the amount of days she was working to get rid of excess energy, the bucking stopped. I guess it's time to teach her bucking is a no-no no matter how much energy you have :)
    09-18-2012, 06:00 PM
Super Moderator
I would also suggest you cut on the grain. 14 pounds a day sounds a bit too much for her, also regarding her behavior. And, just to add my two cents - 4 is still very young. Much of her body is still developing and will be maturing for a couple of years to come. Personally, I wouldn't be jumping a horse until he gets 5-6yo. Until that there's still loads you can do to improve a young horses' balance, endurance and suppleness, for example, hill work, ground poles, maybe a very small jump (30 to 50cm) every now and then. Too much jumping too early makes a horse go out of health sooner than many expect...
    09-18-2012, 06:16 PM
I've talked to the vet about cutting her food, but she was very skinny when I got her. She is still skinny, but vey slowly putting on weight. She has an incerdible metabolism! She loves to jump, so I don't know how I would get her to work without jumping AT LEAST once a week. I didn't jump her the first few weeks I had her and I saw her jumping fallen trees in her field just because she could. We are working on trot poles and building enough confidence to go up the hill (scary monsters live at the top). Thank you for your advice! I took her cross country schooling this weekend and the thought crossed my mind that maybe jumping this high/much isn't good for her bones. I guess I forget how young she is because she usually doen't act like a 4yo red head TB, and also because she already had a career before I got her.
    09-18-2012, 06:48 PM
Super Moderator
Well, that is nice she is an eager jumper, but the energy of her youth shouldn't trick her into overworking her. Also, may I suggest beet pulp or some bran to help her keep and gain weight? Grains and sweet feeds give lots of excess energy to burn, but it is just like feeding candy instead of proper meals to kids. Sure, they get all hyper and are ready to do tremendous amounts of work, but that's not really what they should be doing. If she was my horse, I'd let her enjoy her childhood a little more time - going on adventurous trail rides, doing hill work, some interesting groundwork, engaging more of her mind - and maybe a bit less of her body. You'll get there in time and won't miss a thing if you do it a bit later - instead, by doing so, you might as well give her a guarantee of a longer and healthier working life. Good luck and enjoy her! Having a young horse is such an adventure. :)
luv2ride likes this.
    09-18-2012, 07:09 PM
Thank you for the suggestion. The reason that she gets senior feed is becasue it has beet pulp and you don't have to soak it. We are working on trail rides, but being out of sight of the barn is scary (but apparently getting trailered off the property is no biggie). I honestly think that without regular work, she would be a handful when I tried to get on her again. I can see where 5-6 days a week might be too much though. I'm not a huge fan of lunging because of teh dtress it puts on their joints. She already backs up, turns on the forehand, and responds to pressure when I'm on the ground.
What other things can I do with ground work to keep her mind and body fit, without over doing it?
    09-18-2012, 07:22 PM
Super Moderator
Groundwork doesn't mean just lunging. For instance, I do lots of groundwork, but I almost never lunge! We work on respect, personal space, connection, light cues, responsiveness to cues I later use in saddle, general intelligence, trust, facing scary situations and just spending time together. Hillwork can also be done from the ground, as can be cavaletti work, working at liberty, and you might be interested in some techniques from Clinton Anderson or other reputable natural horsemanship trainers, that can help keeping your groundwork interesting, enjoyable and beneficial for your horse. Also, if your mare is barn-sour, that already is a big issue you could be working on! Starting with her accepting you as a true leader, because a horse is always ready to follow the leader of the herd, and a rider with a horse forms a mini herd. If the horse is not eager to follow the rider in a scary situation, one of them might not really be the leading horse... ;) For starters, you could hack in the trails by hand - and later transfer it to saddle.

Also, spending some more time to actually soak beet pulp than giving her grain with pulp in it might really benefit her health, excess energy in particular. Again, it is really like giving a kid junk food, because it takes less time than making proper dinner at home. I am not saying you're not taking good care of her - you obviously love her and care for her very much! Thus learning more about horse nutrition might help you in the way of caring for your horse.
    09-18-2012, 07:38 PM
I don't feed her, the barn does (it's part of board) and it costs extra to soak the pulp. My dad wasn't too happy about spending so much to buy her special food, and tack as well as paying for my gelding's Lymes meds- so he said keep the costs as low as you can. I might get a job at the barn on the weekends to help pay off some board, so maybe that can go to cost of soaking the beet pulp. She is gaining weight slowly, so we are going to try to cut back on the grain a little, but add corn oil.

As far as grounwork- I took her on a lunge line and walked her around the hacking field a few times untill she was comfortable. Just yesterday I managed to get her all the way around the field with only 2 little spooks (and the corn was blowing around!) so we are getting some where- even if it is slowly. I don't know if she is barn sour because she will go in the arena where she can't see the barn. She is super responsive to light cues on the ground (back up, turn on the forehand...), so maybe I can see if I can find a tarp somewhere.

Our first show is this weekend so I'm sure I'll have lots of stuff to work on after that :). We are only doing the 18 inches class, but who knows what will happen with all the other horses around. I'm hoping that she will be able to focus on me because that will make it a lot easier.
Thank you for all of your help- I never knew that gground work was so important with a horse that was already comfortable under saddle :)
gypsygirl likes this.

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