Background info: Murray is a TB/QH grade 11 yr/old gelding who was mainly a pet before coming to me. I had him on a month trial back in August before returning him back to his owner. Then, his owner asked if I'd like to have him again, for a lower price, so right now, I'm taking him on a fall/winter lease (my mom's idea to see if I truly want him).
Right now, he has a hay belly. And, I rode him for the first time for 1/2 an hour. Just walk/trot only. He doesn't bend that well, and cow-kicked once during my ride. Before, he would cow-kick, try to toss me off, all that jazz.
So any tips/ideas for a re-conditioning program? We (my coach and I) are slowly going to re-condition him over the winter, buliding from 1/2 hour to full hour rides. I'm not to sure what I want of him, but I do know I want to take him to a walk/trot dressage show next year if possible. So I want him to know his basics and also to teach him to jump. That's our plan so far, but my coach told me it will take about 6 months to see him fit (and in a smaller girth!).
A stiff horse is really difficult to work with. The first thing you want to do is really bend him. Work with circles...sponging the inside reign to get him to reeeeally bend and stretch. That should also encourage him to work long and low...which will help stretch out his back and bring his hind end underneath him much more.
Work circles in both directions to really begin to develope a frame. This will develope his muscles and eventually stamina. Don't be afraid to work into a sweat LOL
Do a lot of transitions. This is going to help your horse really listen to you. Work from walk to canter...halt to trot etc. Those big transitions will really help your horse round...but also work with a collected trot to an extended trot and collected and extended...this will REALLY help.
all of these exercises are going to really bring your horse back into a good working athletic state. He'll develope a stronger topline and begin to get more flexible. This will make him more athletic
also...bring him over trot poles and cavaletti...that will help introduce him to jumping and real work...
and idk why it shud take 6 months to get him smaller. I brought an emaciated horse into a full girth..muscles..athletic..and jumping 3ft in 6 months. He's a standardbred who didnt know how to canter who is now doing so. SO you probably wont have to wait 6 whole months...thats quite a long time. and i only ride 2 or 3 times a week. He started with 15 minute rides....and then now we are able to ride 1hour to 1 and 1/2 hours.
It's not a race to have a horse going well... each individual animal will take it's own time to do things... and your guy was previously a race horse, who was used to working... this guy here was a pet.
Not trying to offend at all... I agree with the exercises you talk of....
I would mainly focus on transitions first before really getting into circle work. If you have access to a hilly area, trotting over terrain will really help him lose the weight and rebuild his muscle.
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