Reconditioning the Senior Horse
Hi guys! I recently purchased a 21 yr old Hanoverian gelding, who has been out of work for the last few years. I've been working him for about two months. He's completely sound, with some minor arthritis, but is mainly just out of shape and needs muscle & stamina.
I started off working him 3-4 days a week, then purchased him on 10/9. I had a meeting with his/my vet about a week later to talk about his exercise & feed program, full blood panel, and his overall condition. She encouraged me to work him, as long as he is comfortable, up to 5 days a week. Since then, he's been ridden 4-5 days a week, combining 30 min moderate rides, 30 min difficult weekly lesson, and easy trail ride days. He's been a little more lethargic in the last two weeks, and I attributed it to minor soreness or just being tired and old! He's gone through a drastic change over the last few months, and I try to give him a break when he seems like he needs it.
I asked my trainer to hop on last night and see if she noticed anything in particular. She did notice what felt like a sore stifle muscle. He is not lame or stiff, but he just doesn't want to get the motor in gear and doesn't want to track up. She encouraged me to continue his program, and balance working him through it, and giving him the time off he needs to recover. She thought my recent every other day schedule was still appropriate. She also suggested muscle strengthening exercises for his hind end, such as ground poles, hill work, and lots of transitions.
Anyone else have experience reconditioning a horse that's been out of work for a few years? How hard did you push to work their muscles, without overdoing it? I feel like I'm walking a fine line of wanting to push him enough for cardio and strength benefits, but not too much to hurt him or make him sour.
I've spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I've just wasted.