How often and how long should a horse be ridden? - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 31 Old 02-12-2016, 09:07 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jaydee View Post
He needs to do the sort of work that makes him 'use himself' correctly rather than work that is aimed at trying to wear him out - his weight look slightly over what it should be but that could be the winter coat but he's lacking muscle in the right places
Temperament wise I'm thinking that the more you work him, fitter he gets, the livelier he's going to get because that's the sort of Arabian he is. Its a bit like a racehorse - the harder you work them the faster they go from A to B, work doesn't slow them down or steady them up.
Agreed Jaydee. Do you have any recommendations for working him in a way that makes him "use himself" correctly and get muscles "in the right place"?

So far, other than the 3-5 rides a week my daughter and I are putting on him (all walk/trot, very little cantering), I am lunging him on occasion and could do more of that. The coach gets on him after our lessons and canters him until he's pretty sweaty. This is not so much for the exercise as it is to get him to improve his canter and his "brakes" at the canter. My daughter and I are not yet confident cantering him regularly, although I think I could probably start very soon (for others who aren't aware, Harley is very forward at the canter and does not slow down once he gets wound up which has ended up scaring my daughter so cantering is off for her). I've also told the coach that if she knows anyone who is a good rider and would like to ride him a couple of times a week or so, I'd allow it, just so he could canter more often. Unfortunately, we live pretty far out of town so I don't know if I'll be able to find someone willing to drive this far.

Endurance trail rides - which is what I'd like to be doing as soon as the snow and ice are gone - are unfortunately out of the question for the time being.

As far as him having more energy, I'd rather he stay mellow, but I'm not going to sacrifice his health for it. If being fit means a more energetic Harley, then we're just going to have to live with it.
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post #22 of 31 Old 02-12-2016, 09:17 PM
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OP- WHY are you concerned about fitness?

Is he able to do the job you want (yes), is he able to maintain basic health (yes), are you happy with his performance (yes)...?

So what's the missing factor? He is happy, you are happy, your daughter is happy, what am I missing?

Trust me it would be great if everyone (mostly humans haha) were in perfect shape but you can be healthy and even athletic without following a fitness protocol.

He is a pleasure horse, gets turnout and some work, and you are enjoying him.

3/4 horses of mine are sitting in the pasture. They are happy, they are healthy, they could care less about their fitness. I am unable to ride (they are an hour away) so their fitness is irrelevant to that. So it is what it is.

My mare I board closer, but haven't been able to ride for a few months due to the weather. She's not fit, but we are working on green horse stuff anyways. When I start riding her again I will need to work on fitness just to get her to where she can do what I want her to do (not too much at this point) but she is happy and healthy. I wish I could get her moving more as turnout is lousy due to weather but same weather won't let me, so that is what it is. She has gained weight with less feed due to lack of work, but isn't too bad. So horse is happy, healthy.

I guess I'm missing the point. People are so concerned about fitness and aside from basic health it really doesn't matter for a pleasure horse.
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post #23 of 31 Old 02-12-2016, 09:29 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Yogiwick View Post
OP- WHY are you concerned about fitness?

Is he able to do the job you want (yes), is he able to maintain basic health (yes), are you happy with his performance (yes)...?

So what's the missing factor? He is happy, you are happy, your daughter is happy, what am I missing?

Trust me it would be great if everyone (mostly humans haha) were in perfect shape but you can be healthy and even athletic without following a fitness protocol.

He is a pleasure horse, gets turnout and some work, and you are enjoying him.

3/4 horses of mine are sitting in the pasture. They are happy, they are healthy, they could care less about their fitness. I am unable to ride (they are an hour away) so their fitness is irrelevant to that. So it is what it is.

My mare I board closer, but haven't been able to ride for a few months due to the weather. She's not fit, but we are working on green horse stuff anyways. When I start riding her again I will need to work on fitness just to get her to where she can do what I want her to do (not too much at this point) but she is happy and healthy. I wish I could get her moving more as turnout is lousy due to weather but same weather won't let me, so that is what it is. She has gained weight with less feed due to lack of work, but isn't too bad. So horse is happy, healthy.

I guess I'm missing the point. People are so concerned about fitness and aside from basic health it really doesn't matter for a pleasure horse.
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 ;)
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post #24 of 31 Old 02-12-2016, 10:27 PM
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Acadian....keep this in mind at all times.....a horse's propensity for injury is in direct proportion to the amount of care is applied.

And....a horse thinks of TWO things when it wakes up...what am I going to EAT, and how am I going to KILL myself.

Arabians do not lose fitness as fast as other breeds, and there is NO relationship between human fitness and equine fitness loss.

As long as he is not locked in a stall 24/7, he is probably fit enough, and will remain so, to do a 25 mile endurance ride!
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post #25 of 31 Old 02-13-2016, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Acadianartist View Post
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!)
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Last edited by Yogiwick; 02-13-2016 at 02:02 PM.
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post #26 of 31 Old 02-13-2016, 02:06 PM
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Oh, and "riding properly" should always be a goal, just don't think of it as necessary for what you want to do. As you progress you will want to focus more on that sort of thing, but that is all in the future and you will know when the time is right. It's not a bad thing, it's just not something to worry about for your situation.
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post #27 of 31 Old 02-13-2016, 03:20 PM
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When I got my first horse nothing would stop me from riding but at that time there were hardly any indoor arenas and my Father made a rule that when the temperature dropped below 0 degrees F we were not to ride. I was indignant and demanded why and he told me it would just be too hard on the horses lungs to be working hard in those temperatures and that made sense to me so I keep to that rule, much easier to do now that I am so much older.
I think if you are riding indoors it is easier in the colder temps because there is no chill factor to consider and as I said earlier just work for a bit then a walking break. I have ridden indoors when the weather is around 0 degrees F.
We have had an easy winter here so far but the last couple of days reminded us that winter is still here, snow, bitter cold and blowing winds and I have no problem whatsoever remembering my Father's dictates about cold weather riding.
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post #28 of 31 Old 02-13-2016, 09:23 PM Thread Starter
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Woodhaven, environment Canada has issued an extreme cold weather warning for our area so I'm holding off on riding for now. Tomorrow morning, the temperature with windchill will be -36 Celcius. That's - 32 Farenheit. It will warm up a bit during the day, but not much. Even without the windchill it will be bitterly cold. Harley might be able to take it, but I'm not sure I want to go to the barn in that kind of cold! If I work up the courage, I may go and just do a bit of groundwork in the indoor arena, but even just walking from the barn to the indoor arena will be harsh.

I can't wait til spring...
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post #29 of 31 Old 02-14-2016, 09:23 AM
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Acadian, we have had an amazingly mild winter - until now. Last weekend I was out trail riding both days, wonderful weather, record high temps. This weekend I froze going out to feed the cats, record low temps, today is recording colder than yesterday but with no wind and the sun shining it seems warmer but I have no intentions of riding.
My husband had surgery last Mon so I haven't been to the barn since then but my sister, bless her heart put blankets on the horses and they are staying in the barn overnight. They have a run in at the back part of the barn where they have been for most of this winter since it has been so mild.
I will go over today to do some barn work but not to ride.
I think you are wise not to ride with these extreme colds, not like you have to get ready for a show or anything. Riding is supposed to be fun anyway and if your hands and feet are freezing, not much fun.
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post #30 of 31 Old 02-14-2016, 05:11 PM
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Slower work that improves elevation can be better for muscle tone than a lot of fast work - so lots of serpentines and spirals and direction changes in his routine will encourage him to gather himself together to maintain balance
I also like to use ground poles and change the distances so they've got to shorten and lengthen their stride and lift themselves to get over them not just skim them
I'm wondering about his muscle loss and what looks to be a rather long coat for an arab that's stabled and blanketed - Have you ever had him tested for IR and/or Cushings?
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