Building muscle - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 02-15-2020, 04:51 PM Thread Starter
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Building muscle

Hey everyone, I just wanted to hop on her to get a few answers and exercises to help build muscle on my horse. Not looking for a specific area, but a whole body tun up. Currently I am doing a lot of bounces, gymnastics to help her not get bored because I do a lot of flat work and dressage work. I also have a very small hill that I w/t/c them on every now and then, but would like to build a lot more muscle on both of my horses. Thank you all! :))
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post #2 of 9 Old 02-15-2020, 06:12 PM
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Sounds like you are already doing much of what builds muscle and muscle tone over time.
Building of muscle and fitness takes time, weeks to months of it depending upon how often you ride, how long you ride for and the intensity of the work-session.
If you are bringing a horse back from injury, from being off for months then go slowly and build gradually as horses are exceptional athletes who need conditioning effective and carefully done.
You should be able to ask those who are watching you ride and school about issues like this knowing your horses specific needs and limitations.
Here in Florida hill work is not easily done with our more flat topography but there are many endurance horses, skilled working horses in many disciplines...
When I was a kid we use to walk our horses on the beach in the firm wet sand, walked not run, as it is strenuous exercise but you said in another post where you are and water is not far from you in that location so might be a possibility to look into.
We never intentionally rode our horses in deep sand/dirt as it is a fast way to strain/tear/blow or hurt a tendon, ligament or joint from stresses unaccustomed to.

Also remember that not every horse makes bulk muscle or muscle-tone, some are lean, lanky and whipcord lean but muscled and fit...just look at racehorses, that is fit those elite athletes as they are.
...

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post #3 of 9 Old 02-15-2020, 06:36 PM
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Standard harness race training in Western Australia is working them on sand tracks for conditioning - and not exactly firm sand, but yielding sand, and it's hard work and puts muscle on them quickly, and is excellent cardiovascular training. Harness racers rarely walk in training - they'd start with a jog, and work up to pacework in the sand, which is like arena horses' extended trots and then some. Cantering in the sand too. It's all built up incrementally so the horse isn't over-stressed. Horses have to have enough Vitamin E, and be warmed up and cooled down properly - do it wrong and you will end up with azoturia (tying up), which can cause permanent damage.

A lot of TBs here are worked on the beach - trot, canter, gallop; quite soft sand. Same precautions apply.

If you do this properly, you will be conditioning tendons and ligaments too, not damaging them. I trained my endurance mare in quite deep sand, and she was fast-trotting and cantering in it when she had built up her training level to competition standard. She did well at endurance, breaking a ride record and getting best-conditioned a couple of times too.

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post #4 of 9 Old 02-15-2020, 06:59 PM
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Sue those are all wonderful references and working suggestions but this poster has written of issues with health just a few months ago of rescue status and a serious colic...unsure if this is all one horse or from both her horses.
Poster has also had another thread recently on a very similar topic and got good sound advice their.
www.horseforum.com/horse-training/building-more-muscle-812215/

Please Destiny...take all offered comments and make some decisions on how to proceed based on the health of your horse and your vet recommendations first and foremost as they know your animals, their health concerns and where it is you want to arrive/achieve with sound, healthy horses to be partners with.
Good luck in your journey.
...

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #5 of 9 Old 02-16-2020, 02:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by horselovinguy View Post
Sue those are all wonderful references and working suggestions but this poster has written of issues with health just a few months ago of rescue status and a serious colic...unsure if this is all one horse or from both her horses.
Poster has also had another thread recently on a very similar topic and got good sound advice their.
www.horseforum.com/horse-training/building-more-muscle-812215/
People can take or leave general advice, @horselovinguy (and clearly you and I disagree on the value of working healthy horses in sand, systematically and appropriately); it may help someone else even if it doesn't help an OP. Having said that, rescue status, colic etc don't negate what I said about muscle building - just have to start slowly and make sure nutrition and other issues are sorted. Rescue horses especially have often lost a lot of muscle mass.
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post #6 of 9 Old 02-16-2020, 10:08 AM
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People can take or leave general advice, @horselovinguy (and clearly you and I disagree on the value of working healthy horses in sand, systematically and appropriately)
Actually Sue, we do agree on working horses in appropriate footing conditions when they are built up to it correctly, done correctly and appropriately...
I doubt these horses have worked very much in anything other than groomed riding rings or racetrack so sand at the beach and waterside is out of their normal riding regiment.
I'm positive you don't take a horse and just unleash them to heavy riding in deep sand footing galloping them without the proper conditioning being started and build-up of their bodies done...
That is all I'm saying...do the building in steps, in increments that the horse is ready to take the next degree of difficulty so less chance of issue arrives by injury.
By proper conditioning you also build endurance and muscle strength, tone and mass.
All those things you are knowledgeable about...shown by how you write and express your thoughts.

I ride in sand all the time on trails from hard-packed to deep. I am very aware of the horses body English and what it is telling me, same as you do...within reason and capability of the animal do we ride and partner our mounts.
Here loose sand on the beach I ride can be mid-cannon bone on my 16 h. heavy boned Quarter horse, something I walk him easy through to much more "safe" footing to reduce injury from strains...
I much prefer the actual wet hard-packed and then sand about 6" deep closer to the waters edge to ride in for obvious reasons.
...

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post #7 of 9 Old 02-16-2020, 10:52 AM Thread Starter
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I ride my horses on a lot of trails with deep sand and my riding ring in the corner has a good spot. So they do get worked in varies arenas.
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post #8 of 9 Old 02-16-2020, 01:03 PM
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Most horses people say need more muscle or topline actually need more groceries (in my opinion). I don't know if that is the case with the OP's horses or not. But in general......that's what I tend to see.

I've had trail horses for 20+ years and fat or fit, they all have had excellent toplines. I don't think they need tons of work to keep a topline or build muscle. In general when people say they have trouble with that, I see a very old and/or very thin horse. So I don't know if that's the case here, but it's something to keep in mind.

If I really thought a horse needed muscle specifically (and I'm not even sure what that would look like) I suppose I would make sure it had high quality hay with good protein (like a good amount of alfalfa to the diet) and ride the horse like normal. That is all I've ever done, personally. Maybe I've just never owned those types of horses.
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post #9 of 9 Old 02-17-2020, 03:17 PM
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I tend to agree with trailhorserider. I have never had to consciously try to build muscle on any horse whether fit or fat, a horse will build the muscle it requires for the work we do with them by attrition - just the way we humans become conditioned to the work we do. If a person works long hours on their feet it is not required for them to then spend an extra twenty minutes a day resistance training so they can do their days work.



However, to have a person or a horse be happy in their work with healthy muscle, bone and connective tissues that takes good nutrition. If you are working your horse beyond it's food input then you are probably going to have trouble building muscle. Also bear in mind that the shape and location of the muscle you will be building will be determined by the exercise you are doing so if your horse does seem to be putting on condition but the top line is remaining undeveloped then perhaps the issue is your horse has learned to avoid using it's body correctly and your riding position, hands etc are not being as effective as you think they are.

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.D Adams

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