ReTraining a Horse
   

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ReTraining a Horse

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  • Retraining and old stock horse
  • Standardbred swapping hind leads at canter

 
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    03-28-2009, 07:04 PM
  #1
Weanling
ReTraining a Horse

What are the best ways to get a horse back into shape? He is a 23 year old OTTB who used to do 3ft+ jumping but has been left in the field for a while. He needs help with his cantering and keeping his correct lead without getting tired and swapping. He also needs help knowing where to take off from jumps. When we trot in he usually takes off at the right place, but when we canter in he takes off really really far away, like an entire stride too early. This is why we can only practice with single jumps, no lines, because he always canters between the lines. I've been using small jumps, like tiny cross rails or 18inch verticals.

What other ways besides simply riding can I help him out? I'd like to show him but I'm not sure how to begin.
     
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    03-28-2009, 10:02 PM
  #2
Foal
Trotting is really good for horses, up and down hills, so find a hill side and if he lunges well, exercise him!
     
    03-28-2009, 10:28 PM
  #3
Green Broke
As was said before, lunging and trotting up hills works very well. Something I like to to the "2 and 10".
All you have to do is fine yourself a place other then a round pen to ride. I've found that horses that old don't do well walking and trotting around a round pen for a long time.
All you have to do is trot quickly for two minutes and then walk for ten. Do this for as long as you see fit. Don't over work him though! Don't want him to pass out or something. :)
     
    03-28-2009, 10:37 PM
  #4
Foal
Not long ago I retired a OTTB who was 22...also not ridden for quite some time when I first started to work with him..
What I had to do was take him back to flat-work very slowly..At first, every other day walking only, 20 mins or so...I used an Indoor arena to keep distractions down, didn't ask for much at first.
Then, two weeks later increase to every other day walk, and simple trot for about 30 or so mins.. and so on from there...His attitude changed a great deal as well. Slowly but steady..

within 6-8 weeks, you should have him right back in condition for far more advanced stuff, He may just have stiff, out of condition muscles. TB's sometimes get very grumpy when they are brought back to work...

I worked for me anyway -Lw
     
    03-29-2009, 11:31 AM
  #5
Weanling
He's not 100% out of shape, I'd say he's about 50% of the way back into his old condition. He can now hold his canter leads for about 10 laps before he gets tired and swaps. I always give him time to catch his breath too.

As for lungeing, I've never done it before and don't really know how to. Help?
     
    03-29-2009, 11:43 AM
  #6
Started
A few things that jump out at me - swapping leads/not holding leads, taking off far away from fences, and any similar behaviors speak of a combination of lack of fitness as well as potential pain issues. Not to say that he's lame by any means, however older horses especially when out of shape and not in work, can be prone to back and hock issues. The less the horse is mobile with impulsion, the higher the chances of both arthritis as well as spine misalignment due to muscular atrophy putting uneven pressure on the bones (as the body weakens, we all favor one side over the other - this can put uneven pressure on the spine and bones causing chiropractic issues).

To start, lots and lots of walking is a huge help. Hill work will help build muscle - keep him at the walk for now - and help his joints loosen. After several consistent all walk workouts of 30 minutes each at least, then add a few minutes of trot. Hills are still great for this as they will help the horse use their hind end more. Start with trotting uphill, and walking down hill, but eventually trotting both up and down will help. Alternate workouts with some longing in varying circle sizes, just take it slow as longing can put excess strain on the joints.

As he builds up more fitness, gradually add in canter work - with only a few minutes per workout. Monitor his breathing as well as look for any stiffness to ensure that he's able to canter without issue. If you can have a chiro come out, it's great to have done before cantering as the trot work will build the muscle and help hold the bones in proper alignment.

From there you can reintroduce fences - and I'd start with grid work of little (18" or so) fences so that he can also focus on building his hind end and topline. Cavaletti will also be a huge help and you can vary the distances to vary the length of his trot stride to work different muscle groups.

Good luck!
     
    03-29-2009, 11:54 AM
  #7
Weanling
CJ82Sky he's been back in work for almost a year now, are you sure that all that basic work is really necessary? I know this might sound bad, but I'm sixteen, and going to leave for college in a year and a half, I really don't have time to spend months just getting him up to cantering, I wanted to show him this year. His owner led me to believe that he would be in shape in a month or so, did she mislead me? I really can't spend all this time and all of my own money just to walk a horse around. If this is true, I need to find a different horse to lease...
     
    03-29-2009, 12:32 PM
  #8
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathryn    
CJ82Sky he's been back in work for almost a year now, are you sure that all that basic work is really necessary? I know this might sound bad, but I'm sixteen, and going to leave for college in a year and a half, I really don't have time to spend months just getting him up to cantering, I wanted to show him this year. His owner led me to believe that he would be in shape in a month or so, did she mislead me? I really can't spend all this time and all of my own money just to walk a horse around. If this is true, I need to find a different horse to lease...
Oooh I misread that sorry! If he's been in work pretty regularly then you can still follow my plan, just tighten up the timeline. The more days a week you can ride the better - but I'd start right at the trotting point.

There are plenty of 20+ year old horses that are still able to compete!
     
    03-29-2009, 12:35 PM
  #9
Weanling
It's really great because I'm only half leasing him but I can ride him whenever I want. So I'll make sure to ride him a lot and do a LOT of trotting, which will be good for me too because I need to work on trotting without stirrups anyway, and we can kill two birds with one stone! Haha
     
    03-29-2009, 05:23 PM
  #10
Foal
Make him run in the round pen. ?Try trail riding...I find it always helps.
     

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