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Zimpatico 11-05-2010 12:44 PM

Reconditioning the Senior Horse
Hi guys! I recently purchased a 21 yr old Hanoverian gelding, who has been out of work for the last few years. I've been working him for about two months. He's completely sound, with some minor arthritis, but is mainly just out of shape and needs muscle & stamina.

I started off working him 3-4 days a week, then purchased him on 10/9. I had a meeting with his/my vet about a week later to talk about his exercise & feed program, full blood panel, and his overall condition. She encouraged me to work him, as long as he is comfortable, up to 5 days a week. Since then, he's been ridden 4-5 days a week, combining 30 min moderate rides, 30 min difficult weekly lesson, and easy trail ride days. He's been a little more lethargic in the last two weeks, and I attributed it to minor soreness or just being tired and old! He's gone through a drastic change over the last few months, and I try to give him a break when he seems like he needs it.

I asked my trainer to hop on last night and see if she noticed anything in particular. She did notice what felt like a sore stifle muscle. He is not lame or stiff, but he just doesn't want to get the motor in gear and doesn't want to track up. She encouraged me to continue his program, and balance working him through it, and giving him the time off he needs to recover. She thought my recent every other day schedule was still appropriate. She also suggested muscle strengthening exercises for his hind end, such as ground poles, hill work, and lots of transitions.

Anyone else have experience reconditioning a horse that's been out of work for a few years? How hard did you push to work their muscles, without overdoing it? I feel like I'm walking a fine line of wanting to push him enough for cardio and strength benefits, but not too much to hurt him or make him sour.

ImagineThat 11-05-2010 05:48 PM

I brought a 19 year old barrel horse back into work... I just took it slow and easy. Are you feeding any supplements? My guy had some minor issues and stiffness and I put him on Gluquestrian.... I had very good results. Huge, noticeable difference!
I also did some stretches that the vet who x rayed him for me suggested.

I feel safe to say your horse likely needs to be on a joint supplement or possibly injected. I wanted to avoid injections if possible, and had good enough results with Gluquestrian to do so.

Good Luck! :)

Zimpatico 11-06-2010 09:10 AM

He is currently getting a Pentosan injection every 10 days. He had been on Previcox, but seemed to be wreaking havoc on his tummy so the vet suggested giving that only if needed. I have him on vitamin supplements, including SmartProtect, SmartEnergy, and Probios. I have not put him on a joint supplement since neither I, or the vet, have found any that actually work. I'll definately look into Gluquestrian.

We also stretch his legs and neck every day, at least once, and some gentle neck massages. He had a massage about a month ago, and is scheduled for another in December. I'll be anxious to see what the massuse says now that he's been in regular work for an extended period.

ImagineThat 11-06-2010 09:15 AM

I honestly noticed a huge difference. I know what you mean, it is hard to find something that works. It's about 90 something bucks for each container, but it's 2 months worth. So its 50 bucks a month.
There was noticable change within 2 weeks for me. Good luck if you decide to try it!

MIEventer 11-06-2010 09:48 AM


He is currently getting a Pentosan injection every 10 days. He had been on Previcox, but seemed to be wreaking havoc on his tummy so the vet suggested giving that only if needed.
I have never heard of those IM's before. Nelson is 21, my TB gelding and he is on Adequan. I saw a HUGE difference in him after the 1st injection, compete difference in personality from before and after.

You can look into SmartFlex Repair - I was looking at that last spring to put Nelson on.

Anyways, with Nelson, he just went through Hock and Stifle injections and to help strengthen up those Stifle Muscles, I have to do alot of strait work with Cavaletti's. Getting him to lift those legs up and strengthen them.

Also alot of hill work.

To condition him for Eventing Season, I like to do alot of hacking. LOTS of hacking. Just getting out on those trails and spending hours and hours a week out there does amazingly wonders for conditioning both horse and rider. Working on transitions and rounding, stretching, bending, engaging.

I can't say enough about hacking and the benefits that come from it. If you have access to large fields or trails, I highly encourage that.

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