I'm looking for some advice with regards to excercises to build muscle in especially my 20 year old gelding, we didn't ride as much last year and his age is starting to tell. His back seems to be sagging so I want to concentrate on that but also general fitness. We only do trails, so no heavy duty stuff. Also looking for general fitness building excercises for a seven year old appy mare and some five-year olds who will be starting their under saddle training in two weeks.
At 20 years old its probably not likely that you will build much muscles. The more important thing would be to keep in shape, and not exerting your horse. There are supplements that are for weight building such as farnam weight builder. If you poke you thumb into your horses belly at the bottom of the rib cage it will arch its back, which will work its back muscles. Good luck!
Here is a very helpful thread: http://www.horseforum.com/horse-trai...es-back-72621/
As for your horses in training, fitness building exercises. Hmm. Trotting helps with building muscle in the hind end, as does riding up hills and laying down some poles flat on the ground. Just be careful. I wouldn't worry about building fitness, I'd focus on just slowly teaching them how to be ridden, how to yield on the ground, how to relax, go through the paces (eventually) and over time, they will become more fit as they learn and then you'll be able to do more with them.
For your appy who I assume you can do under saddle work with.. lots of transitions, changing gaits, lots of figures (weaving, circles, figure eights, serpentines, etc.) and hillwork are invaluable. Working on a forward walk, a trot (posting on the correct diagonal if you do English which will help stretch out the horse's shoulder) is very beneficial for muscling a horse, and cantering helps with balance and some other stuff I haven't figured out yet as I've just now begun to canter.
It's important to change things up no matter which horse you're working with. Doing the same thing without doing more or doing something different won't make much change in your horse and possibly make them unexcited or unmotivated to be worked with. Capture their attention and focus, keep them thinking.
That's what I think at least.
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