Introducing a horse to working
Hey! So I've recently taken on a project of bringing a horse back into work. It's a free lease to possible own if him and I are cooperative with one another and if he is sound.
He is a 5 year old Thoroughbred gelding that was bred to race but failed his first racing test, I guess, so he never made any starts. He ran but didn't have the drive to be a racehorse. He was donated to one person who then gave him to his current owner. They've had him for about 4 years. They got him to be their daughter's eventing horse, but the daughter wanted to stick with dressage on her other horse. They have other horses that are already trained and experienced so they've always just kept working those horses. Casino, the horse I'll be working, has been cast aside. He's underweight and lacks muscle. He's been trained walk-trot and they've gotten him to canter a few times but he didn't entirely understand and that's where they left off. They haven't really done anything else with him for months or even years. The paddock the 5 horses are in is really small - not even half an acre. There isn't enough space to get out and run (they said they have a larger pasture but I think they wait until summer to let them out there? Not sure)
I tried him out Friday and mostly walked with maybe trotting twice around the ring in each direction. My legs were beyond sore (I hadn't been on a horse for over a month due to my tonsillectomy then school) so I had to stop. He was a fun ride but he's still green. I didn't go out to see him again until Sunday since I typically work 12 hour shifts every weekend. I lunged him a bit on saturday - only walking and trotting - for about 15-20 minutes. It seemed like he had never been lunged before because he was clueless what to do but got it by the time I stopped. During this session, however, I noticed him limping in the back going clockwise. I worried, but many people have told me that it's probably stiffness since he's been out of work and has no muscle. One person put it in perspective and asked if I would be sore/stiff after a ten minute jog after having been a couch potato for a long time.
So, I'm wondering what type of exercises would be beneficial for this guy? Should I avoid lunging for a while and just walk him under saddle for 20 minutes and increase that as time goes on? Should I have him trot at all? ANY input at all would be greatly appreciated. I just want to make sure he is introduced back to work correctly and without too much strain.