LOL, yes. This. Thank you.
Maybe it's not that big a deal. You're right - he's happy, we're happy, he's healthy... we're not aiming to be super-competitive. We just want to have fun.
My husband could attest to the fact that I over-analyze and throw myself into projects 150%. I wouldn't say I'm competitive exactly, because I'm not trying to out-perform anyone, but I have high expectations of myself. I'm still in the early phases of horse ownership so I'm going through various adjustments and figuring things out. There is so much information about everything from feeding and blanketing to training and hoof health. I just want to understand all of it. That doesn't mean I'll do it all perfectly, and in a year or two, I'm sure I'll mellow out, but I need to know what's ideal, what's acceptable and what is detrimental to my horse. That way, I can aim for the ideal, but be content with the acceptable and make sure I avoid the detrimental. Does that make sense?
I really appreciate your perspective on this Yogiwick. Maybe it is ok to just relax and enjoy it, as long as Harley isn't getting overly fat and lazy ;)
Think of it this way. Ideally a human is at optimal health, eats healthy, is active and "in shape" etc. However for "optimal health" do you need to have the fitness of an Olympic athlete?
That's really all it comes down to.
As long as he has regular turnout (good turnout, all day at least with plenty of room and preferable a friend) he will maintain minimal fitness on his own. Proper management is ALL that is needed for basic health. The next step is can he do what you want him to do, which honestly pretty much any horse could do, so yes. If you decide you want to start really working him he may need a little more fitness, but for now he isn't even really in light work (obviously technically lol but fitness wise). If you notice he seems tired, or more sweaty, breathing harder, taking longer to cool down etc, then those are hints he is too out of shape for what you are doing. But for now, he is healthy, he can do the work, and you can enjoy him the way you want.
As you start doing more you may need to worry about it more but honestly it really isn't even a worry for most of the stuff we chose to do. It is VERY important, as you start asking more of a horse, but "more" is a LOT more than what you are asking for atm. More means Rolex, or long distance competitive endurance, or showing every weekend the whole season at a top level. Not trying to say fitness isn't important (it is), just trying to put perspective on it.
I also have an Arab and let me tell you they are just naturally more fit (as well as energetic) than other horses. He jigged an entire 2 1/2 hour trail ride in pasture condition during warm weather without breaking a sweat or acting at all out of shape. Harley will tell you if he's not up for it. As long as you are sane and don't push him (ultimately his legs matter more than his breathing) and say gallop him for 3 miles without knowing he is up for it then it's really not a concern.
And yes it's called "pasture condition" for a reason. They may not be "in shape" but they ARE in a minimal healthy condition and able to do "normal horse things" with ease. My 3 horses in pasture condition (including the above Arab) I worked very regularly for awhile. Just to have life get in the way and throw them back outside. They don't care. Just let them be horses! COMPLETELY agree with greentree!! Unless you need more from him let him be, and if you do need more you still need to let him be a horse. There have been studies that have proven the best thing for the physical well being (and I'm being technical, tendons, bones, etc) of a young foal is to let him be out and about as much as possible. There is a huge difference in long term health and "sturdiness". (not to mention just overall wellbeing!)