Conditioning help for being stuck at novice forever
So my Lizzy was going to be my endurance horse. We had been conditioning until a tendon injury in May put her on rest. She only kicked herself and vet gave clearance to ride in a few days. Long story short she ended up with the worst case of scratches ever so she was completely out for 3 weeks and with my summer classes I have been only able to ride around 1-2 days a week. So she has been stiff and very short strided and just sort of off for her movement.
I had the vet/chiro out Tuesday and the bad news, no endurance ever without injections :cry:. The vet was very impressed with her health and she is extremely flexible and has excellent bone structure and soundness but her arthritis is too far. She is completely sound but her back left fetlock is retaining fluid. It never goes down with exercise and she is out on pasture 24/7. He did adjust her a bit in her neck and her right hip. So hopefully that helps her movement.
She is to be buted for the first week of bringing back into work to get past the initial pain stage. She must be worked a minimum of 3 days a week but ideally 5 days a week, no matter what. So besides not overworking the first week since she will be on a low dose of bute but enough to get her working how do I proceed with conditioning her? I have settled with the fact that we will just aim to do a novice ride in fall and then maybe a few next year. I was going to do a lot of conditioning rides with some experienced endurance folks but obviously I don't want to make her keep up with them as the vet said 10 miles should be her max for her long rides.
It wasn't the news I wanted to hear. I knew it would eventually come as she is 20 but I was hoping we could get atleast a couple years of good riding first. She is with me until she passes and I cannot afford another horse until we find a house with some land. I am making due with her conditions and aiming to give her something to focus on and a goal for us to reach.
So I am looking for advice on how to condition her? For instance what are some goals for how long to keep her trotting, cantering and so on? The vet and I set a goal to condition for the summer and come fall he will be back out for a follow up exam/adjustment with xrays on the consistently swollen fetlock.
It sounds like you are going to want to be super conservative with your conditioning and be very aware of your mare's reaction to it.
Normally I am big on working every other day or every couple days (so to have good recovery/rest days in between), but dealing with an injury rehab can change that. It may be that she does best with a couple days of increasing work in a row before resting. I think a lot of figuring out what works best will be a guessing game until you try it and see what happens.
You said she had been stiff and short strided. Does she seem to work out of that better in one gait than another? I knew someone with an older horse who would be ok at a walk or canter, but trotting really bothered his hocks to start, so she made sure to do a very thorough warmup with lots of walking, then some cantering, then more walking with lateral work before ever asking him to trot (and then only did very short amounts of trotting).
Best of luck finding what works for her. And good for you for being committed to her lifetime care.
We don't normally do a lot of cantering as she is still green and we had gone back to the walk to relearn what stop means. She is now working wonderfully in a plain snaffle and so we moved up to the trot. She normally loves trotting and can move out beautifully. When on the trail I will allow her to canter in some areas because she does like to stretch out a bit. So it's hard to say about the gaits. She does seem to like to try to trot off right away but that could just be she doesn't like the arena.
I think I'm going to start with just 20 min workouts when riding and throw some shorter lunging sessions in there too. When we head to the trails, usually on the weekends, it's typically at least an hour but can easily be two hours, mostly walking though.
The vet thinks her short striding could have been her right hip too. She needed a good amount of adjusting there as just two months ago she was really extending her stride. I knew something was wrong when she wouldn't canter home last weekend. That was very unlike her and while it was hot and humid out we had only gone about 2 miles total.
I think you need to be honest with yourself. This horse simply isnt suitable for endurance. You need a sound fit horse. This horse has chronic lameness issues. Not to mention it is 20 yo and just starting out conditioning and has arthritis ? Also AERC does not allow "with injections" or really any other type of drugs, painkillers, anti inflammatory or really much of anything. Enjoy the slow easy trails with your horse but I would be surprised if you could get it through a vet check at an endurance ride. Lot of time and money to waste only to get pulled right off the bat. And a horse favoring a hip, short striding or swollen hock will get pulled.
I think you must have read wrong. She is not lame. She is 100% sound. Vet even did a flex test when he was out. She is stiff from arthritis but she hasn't been in much work the last month. Up until a month ago she was being ridden 5 times a week for at least an hour. She could do a 15 mile trail ride and want to keep going. She was put on rest because of a slight tendon injury (just trauma nothing torn ) and then scratches so she was pretty much out of work for a month and then when I brought her back in she was very stiff and short strided, that is why I had the vet out.
I find it hard to believe that Adequan or Legend is not allowed? I certainly didn't see that in the rules. Neither are a pain killer but rather help the fluid that is in the joints. Her fetlock retains fluid, yes, but I asked some people that organize these rides and it doesn't seem it would be an issue since she is sound and there is no pain. She works out of the stiffness.
I think your not reading your own posts.
You are deluding yourself if you think an arthritic, retained fluid, injured tendons, off in the hip horse is 100% sound.
Well vet said she was sound. Her hip needed adjustment as in a chiropractic adjustment. We are only going for novice which is 9-15 miles tops. Vet cleared her for that. And I'm using one of the best vet clinics in the state. Her tendon is healed, she had kicked herself but that was in May. She also must stay in work no matter what.
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You are still dealing with a 20 year old horse. The older horse's heart rate takes much longer to return to resting heart rate than say a 10 yr old. She does not have the oxygen uptake of the younger horse plus the old girl is arthritic. I think you are expecting too much of her. Joe4d-perhaps the chiro is a miracle worker. Somehow I can't see that adjusting a hip will fix the arthritis. Bone deposits don't go away but hey, what do we know?
Where did I say her arthritis went away? I don't think 10 miles is too much to ask. She was easily doing 15-18 miles prior to her being on rest. We were conditioning with others that regularly compete in endurance. The rest made her deteriate quickly because she was arthritic. It was the first rest period in a year and a half. That is why she needs to stay in work. She has never been lame.
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Have to agree whole heartedly with Joe4D's comments. This horse probably could make a great light trail horse with no problems.....even hard trail riding or competition could put her at RISK!
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