Building a top line - The Horse Forum
  • 3 Post By Boo Walker
  • 1 Post By tinyliny
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post #1 of 8 Old 10-25-2018, 02:55 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: Oregon
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Building a top line

Hi! I need a bit of help with an OTTB. Im working on training him up again for my mom, but hes twenty three and horribly out of shape. He seems to have zero percent of a top line, and I was wondering how I might build that up again?

I was also wondering if bad health is more common in horses that raced longer. He has wonderful bloodlines, his grandfather is Northern Dancer, and he raced for about two years under the name of Dragonian. Right now though, Dragonian (or Will,) is not in any type of racing shape. I would guess that he would still be somewhat active with that background?
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post #2 of 8 Old 10-25-2018, 04:07 PM
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He's 23? What's he been doing since he was racing? Has he been in work, or just pasture pet?
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post #3 of 8 Old 10-25-2018, 04:25 PM
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Exercising on hills and direction changes along the arena fence line encourage the horse to engage the abdominal muscles. This lifting helps stregthen the back / topline.

A couple of considerations:
His age may include arthritis which makes moving the way he did when younger difficult.
Aging teeth or metabolic issues may make getting enough protein and fats difficult without special care.

It takes time to see results and he'll have to be started slow and worked consistently. Is this a project you plan on doing over the Winter, or will the weather be a factor? Hit and miss work outs will make him sore and not give the results you seek, so if the Winter is an issue, I would give him plenty of turn out and make sure he maintains a nice weight through till Spring then begin his strength training.
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post #4 of 8 Old 10-29-2018, 01:58 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Oregon
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Before we got Will last year, he had been at a hunter barn to teach beginning adults the walk and trot.
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post #5 of 8 Old 11-15-2018, 11:23 PM
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Loss of top line can result from a variety of things. Poor conditioning, pain, a lack of protein in the diet, IR problems/cushings, sometimes cribbing can contribute....

If he has been a beginner lesson horse he may have been ridden 'inverted' a lot, causing poor muscle development..

Check his teeth, diet, and build his muscles with hill work if possible and trot poles, where he is encouraged to lift his back and use his muscles properly. A good body work person can be valuable as well to see if there is a pain issue.

At 23 and having raced a lot, all the stars are likely going to have to align to build a top line on him.
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post #6 of 8 Old 11-15-2018, 11:28 PM
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Also throw some belly lifts and other stretches in there when you groom / tack up. You can find how to's on the belly lifts on youtube.
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post #7 of 8 Old 11-15-2018, 11:35 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
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just thought I'd add that I LOVE the oldsters! I'd not worry any more about his topline in terms of how it looks, but think only of his comfort, his physical balance and his longevity. I hope he has a wonderful last years with your family. The older horses are often the very best!!!
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post #8 of 8 Old 11-16-2018, 01:10 AM
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: California
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I have my OTTB on a hilly pasture. It's great, I have to do nothing and he's looking sharp!
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