Training schedule for 3 horses

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Training schedule for 3 horses

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    11-24-2008, 04:50 PM
Training schedule for 3 horses

I have been working at a barn for the past month, but it has become too much for me (cleaning stalls) so I'm not doing that anymore. Not to mention I had zero time for my horses during the week because I was so exhausted afterwards.

So now that I have time again, I would like to get into some sort of training/exercise schedule for all 3 of my horses. All but 1 of them has some problems that I'd like to get fixed.

Gem-9 year old app gelding. Has athritis in his hocks and right knee as well as some bone spurs in/around his hoof bones (i believe p1 to p2 though I'm not certain) He has been out for work for almost 2 years, except for the occasional get on and walk for 10-15 min. (that was my vet's recommendation after he coliced and for getting him back into work with his conditions)
I have not ridden him in a while and would like to get him fit again. I had him worked up to be able to be ridden for 20-25 min, mostly walk with about 5 min of trot work. Should I just do what I did in the beginning? Maybe get him to where we can ride for 30 min or so? Also, we will not be doing any canter work until the spring.

Vega- 5 year old app mare. We had some problems, actually quite a few problems. I had decided to sell her, but then decided to keep her. My fiance said he was going to work with her, but he's been uber busy and just doesn't have the time. I've been having an itch to ride her, but I'm not sure how to go about it.
Whenever I would get on her, she would try to trot and then break into a canter, she would spook at a tree and would just be a pain. I'm thinking, now that I've had time away from her, that I should start slowly with her and see how it goes. She has also mellowed down a lot and is not as bossy as she once was. Any ideas as to what I should do with her (no groundwork please) and how long our sessions should be?

Montana- 15 year old qh gelding. He has some issues with arena work. He's fine walking around, but when I ask for a trot, he'll constantly be trying to break down into a walk, unless I keep bumping him to move. The idea of spurs (some really short dull ones) popped into my mind, but I have NO idea how he would react to them. I also thought about carrying around a short crop and when he does break into a walk, I'll squeeze, then bump then smack with a crop (Ask, tell, demand method) Should I try that out and see how he does?
He will also, no matter how loose the reins are, pull his head to the ground, to get more slack. My BO has a call into the equine dentist. I am using a myler low port comfort snaffle on him and he is doing well in it. Do you think he's just protesting being in the ring? He doesn't do this on a trail. Not sure if this matters, but he was primarily ridden western before I got him.
Another thing he does, is when I ask for a canter in the arena, he'll go into it fine, but a few strides in, he'll give a bunny hop and then continue on. He'll only do a bunny hop once, even if we change directions. I was told by his previous owner that he does that, but I would like a way to fix it. When he does do it, I bump him with my legs and drive him forward. Not sure how good that is, but that's what I do.
I'm thinking to just drop down to walk/trot work and don't even think about cantering him until I have his trot down pat. Sound good? What are some things I can do to show him that arena work isn't bad? I've tried just hopping on him and doing absolutely nothing on him, but it didn't make a difference.

Ok, I think that's it. If you want more information on a particular horse, let me know
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    11-24-2008, 05:29 PM
Gem--if he's not in pain, just start with walking. Otherwise, put him on some joint supplements before work and take everything very, very slowly to allow his body to lubricate his joints.

Vega: This sounds like baby behavior, but she's not a baby anymore. So, here's what to do:
Walk her around the arena, and start with circles. Baby/green/out of work horses do best on circles until they can handle straight lines; very 'forward' horses do best on circles because it calms their minds.
Start with 10m circles at the walk, and pull her head slightly to the inside, but keep her going around your circle by using your inside leg. If she doesn't respond to leg pressure (or respond to it well), she'll learn quickly, because the smaller she makes the circle, the harder it's going to be for her. Reward small steps (don't ask for too much when you start this exercise!) and soon you'll be walking several circles, 10 to 5 meters, with her head bent to the inside. I don't really do this to supple them, I do it to get their mind on me and keep it there.
Work going both ways, then start your counter bend, still at a walk. Once she's mastered that, take her back to a 10-15m circle, and start at a trot. (You can make it bigger if she seems unbalanced.) It's going to be like retraining her all over again, but trust me, it's worth it. (It's also very hard for her to canter when her head is bent to the inside and you're bending her body around her leg!).
This will solve a lot of your problems--she needs to get her mind on you, and then she'll stop spooking.
The other thing to do with her might be very hard if you've always ridden english--but keep the reins loose, and do NOT pull her to slow her down. It makes nervous/hot horses claustrophobic, and it really just teaches them to lean into your hands. A head set will come when she can walk, trot, and canter according to your aids and is soft. Let her walk around, and when she wants to trot just pull her--gently--into a tight circle. When she decides to walk again--and she will--then immediately let her out of the circle, no matter what way she is going at the time, and walk off. Any time you feel her tense up and start to trot, try your aids first (relax your seat, tell her easy, sliiiight half halt MAYBE, but do not depend on the half halt! She needs to learn to rate herself) then pull her into a circle. You'll do this later at the trot, and then the canter will come with time.
Just work in the walk and trot for now. I'd love to see how she does with that. :)

Montana: His problems all seem to stem from an issue in going forward. So, for the first two weeks, you're going to ride him like a dressage horse--forward, forward, forward! (but with purpose--no scaring!)
Number one: Carry a dressage whip. Ask him to walk briskly, and when he decides to slow down, smack him with the crop. Don't just tap him, make it firm--if you tap him, he'll learn to ignore it and you want him to NOT want you to use the whip--which means he has to move. If he trots, pet him and let him for 4-6 strides, then pull him into a walk. Don't 'push' him with your seat in order to get him to walk 'bigger'; with lazy horses this just seems to block their impulsion and make them work even less.
Then move on to the trot--a nice, working trot. Any time he deviates from the pace YOU set, smack him with the crop. Pet him when he speeds up, then put him back into the working trot. If he breaks, do NOT ask him again. You didn't ask him to stop in the first place, did you? 'Demand' right away that he trots. If you keep asking, he's not going to see a reason to keep trotting--just to trot off when you ask with your legs. So you'll get a trot-few-strides, then stop... trot again when you ask.... then stop. You get the picture. ;)
Cantering should come together once he's more obedient in going forward; if it doesn't, and you can rule out pain being an issue, I'd use the crop to make his canter more forward and any kind of crow-hopping should disappear.
But, like you said, ignore canter work until the trot is solid and you only need to carry the whip as a reminder. And remember, always ask with your legs, or it will always take the whip to get him going.
Once he can do those things, start the same work Vega would be doing. Praise a lot, don't work them to hard, and make them feel like they can do, and figure out, anything--and they will love going to work for you. ;)
    11-25-2008, 12:46 PM
Thanks so much! I really appreciate the well written out answers you gave me! It's really going to help me with Vega and Montana :)

I will definitely do that with Vega, and on a long rein. I think that was my biggest problem with her. For me, to get her to listen, i'd have her on a shorter rein, and anytime I'd give her rein, she'd go faster. I think it's good that I had another horse to work with, and also gave her a few months off.
I think I will put my martingale stoppers to the where I should have my hands (sounds corny, I know) but it will help me a lot, it will be a physical barrier to keep my hands from sliding up the reins.

I do agree that Montana's problem is with going forward. If he had to choose, he'd rather stay put, than do any work. (and that might be from him being out of work for a few years, though it could just be him)
When you say, after I get Montana to be going forward, that I should work him like Vega, do you mean doing the whole circles with bending, counter bending, or do you mean to just start off slowly and work my way up?
    11-25-2008, 03:12 PM
No problem, I wish people would have helped me out when I got my first horse way back when. I'm surprised I'm still alive. ;)

With Vega that's a really, really good idea. A lot of riding is about body awareness, and if you're always aware of what you're doing (where your heels are, how tight the reins are, how tall you're sitting up, etc.), it will eventually become muscle memory and therefore, automatic. Putting the stoppers on the reins will help with that tremendously. Also, remember that when you ask her to bend, start out with the bend being only a little, and release when she stops pulling. Then start over until you can hold her in the bend with your pinky finger--that's how little pressure it should take when you're done! This will also help with teaching her to relax at the poll--and when a horse relaxes on the poll, they're head will fall on the vertical. Simple as that ;)

With Montana, as soon as he's going forward start the circles like Vega. I'm sorry, I should have been clearer ^^; When it does come time to start bending him, make sure you have your whip on hand--because when lazy horses realize they have to work more (bending and counter bending!) they tend to revert back to their pitter-patter jogs and breaking into a walk. My paint horse = super lazy, but with the dressage whip he can be taught to lope off a kiss and just a touch of leg. Just remember that it is possible to get him to move forward, and eventually he'll start to 'play along'. :)

I would love to hear how they do! If you run into any problems, just PM me or something (I'm not consistent when it comes to checking the boards. ^^;)

Good luck!
    11-25-2008, 04:09 PM
I just wanted to chime in and thank mayfield as well! Blaze has similar little quirks to Montana and your suggestions are fantastic
    11-26-2008, 12:04 AM
Great read. Gave me some ideas too, though I don't do formal "arena" work -- it's all in the yard -- same diff.

Thanks appylover and mayfield
    11-26-2008, 08:28 AM
I actually found out that going circles doesn't help any of my horses to calm down much. So instead I prefer to use poles and trot them over: it keeps the mind more busy on what is down there... :)

I can't say much about Gem, but as for Vega and Montana you just have to keep riding them as much as possible: it certainly will slow down Vega, and I do agree with stick idea for Montana. He's not a baby and I believe just either very lazy or was able to get away with this habit with his former owner. In general it's hard to believe how consistent riding can change a horse. I havn't been riding for while (weather and all) and they are like crazy now. Hopefully, Spring will come soon to start over! Good luck with them!
    11-26-2008, 11:51 AM
I would love to use poles, to change it up, but my BO doesn't have any there. :(

I'm sure I could get some PVC pipes or something.

I did ride Vega yesterday and she was completely different. She didn't act like she normally does. Which makes sense because after she got beat up by 2 other horses, she totally changed (less pushy, less flighty). So I was extremely happy.

I'm going to go back today and ride her and Montana. I'll have to wait to ride Gem until I can get him clean. He's way to dirty right now.
    11-26-2008, 11:56 AM
Well... Being honest we don't have any real poles either. Both me and my neighbor are using split rails from her fence. You can get couple logs and set them up as rails..

I'm sure "herd relations" can help a lot with Vega. In my case my yearling kept fighting for being boss with horses twice bigger than her. She didn't slow down in month, so I ended up moving her to the different barn, otherwise they could hurt her way too much.

Have fun with them!
    11-26-2008, 01:06 PM
I'll see what I can do. Hopefully I can get/find something to use as poles.

When we first moved Vega, it was just her and Gem in a paddock and she immediately took over, and was queen bee until she got moved in with the "fatties" that's when she got beat up, and she's been mellower ever since.

It was definitely a pleasure to ride her yesterday, and I also think since I haven't focused on her for a few months, it enabled me to gain my confidence back and have a clear head while riding her.

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