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How to Build Muscle in Gaited Horses?

1600 Views 9 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  carshon
Hello all!

Apologies if you've already seen my threads on Ellie (and Basil), this is going to be a bit of repeat information. I have a (previously told 7 years old, aged by the vet at 10) tennessee walker rescue mare. She clearly used to be incredibly well broke due to the amount of training she has, but was nearly starved and became incredibly skinny after the birth of her foal (who I also own). I got her recently (just about 2 weeks ago) and she is already looking so much better. I'm absolutely falling in love with this mare more and more every day.

She is at a weight that my vet feels is healthy enough to start work on the ground. She needs to build a lot of muscle in her topline and hindquarters, but her shoulders look great. Usually I would do a lot of trot sets to build muscle, but obviously she doesn't trot. Does gaiting (she really only does flat walk/running walk/canter) build muscle the same way as trotting? Is there a certain method I should use (lunging, ground driving, round penning, hand walking, hot walker, etc) to get her in the correct frame to build muscle correctly? I've done the rehab process a few times but never with a gaited horse.

Also - when is an appropriate weight/muscling to start riding? She's been ridden a lot before and is very well broke, so it's not like putting muscle on a green horse. I will also ask my vet when she comes out to float Ellie's teeth. I'm a very balanced rider with lightweight tack, but I don't want to put too much stress on her if she can't handle it.

Thank you so much!
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I remember someone saying you do not lunge, as in roundy-round gaited horses...
I don't know why and also don't know where I came across that information but it immediately came to my mind when I read some thoughts you have on exercise...

Other than that the only thing I can mention I know can build muscle and endurance is to pony as you ride another...
If you can do that great, if not then I'm out of quick ideas.
The best of luck with your newest horse...enjoy.
馃惔...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I remember someone saying you do not lunge, as in roundy-round gaited horses...
I don't know why and also don't know where I came across that information but it immediately came to my mind when I read some thoughts you have on exercise...

Other than that the only thing I can mention I know can build muscle and endurance is to pony as you ride another...
If you can do that great, if not then I'm out of quick ideas.
The best of luck with your newest horse...enjoy.
馃惔...
Ponying is unfortunately not something we can do as our only horse we can pony off of gets extremely upset if Ellie gets too close to her. I suppose hand walking would be best in this case.
 

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HLG is correct in that gaited horses cannot be lunged in tight circles. Their shoulders need plenty of room to make those big sweeping movements

I had a 100鈥 round pen that one of the horse chiropractors liked to use to work on the horses. It almost wasn鈥檛 big enough for my 16.1H TWH when she would send him around.

Is the foal weaned off her yet? If so and if you have another horse and some hills, ask the vet if you could pony her and do some hill work that way. I honestly wouldn鈥檛 ride her until her weight is where it should be:)

You can also try adding an amino acid supplement to her feed pan. The two I am familiar with that are good, are Nutramino by HorseTech and Tri Amino by Uckele.

Also, Walking Horses are on the hit list for metabolic issues, so don鈥檛 let her get fat. It鈥檚 something we all want to do, and I鈥檓 as Guilty as the next person. I have dealt with metabolic issues in two of my three Walking Horses, so I take a lot of pictures because my eyes lie to me:)

If you care to post pictures of both mare and baby, we love pictures and might be able to offer better suggestions, upon seeing her:)
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
HLG is correct in that gaited horses cannot be lunged in tight circles. Their shoulders need plenty of room to make those big sweeping movements

I had a 100鈥 round pen that one of the horse chiropractors liked to use to work on the horses. It almost wasn鈥檛 big enough for my 16.1H TWH when she would send him around.

Is the foal weaned off her yet? If so and if you have another horse and some hills, ask the vet if you could pony her and do some hill work that way. I honestly wouldn鈥檛 ride her until her weight is where it should be:)

You can also try adding an amino acid supplement to her feed pan. The two I am familiar with that are good, are Nutramino by HorseTech and Tri Amino by Uckele.

Also, Walking Horses are on the hit list for metabolic issues, so don鈥檛 let her get fat. It鈥檚 something we all want to do, and I鈥檓 as Guilty as the next person. I have dealt with metabolic issues in two of my three Walking Horses, so I take a lot of pictures because my eyes lie to me:)

If you care to post pictures of both mare and baby, we love pictures and might be able to offer better suggestions, upon seeing her:)
Baby has been weaned and is doing great! I can see if another boarder at the barn would be willing to pony her, but I doubt it. We will just be going for lots of long walks!
Here she is, looking so much better already. (Ignore the haircut, I couldn't stand to leave the massive tangles in her mane any longer and I only had gauze scissors to use) Her ribs are still much more visible than I would like, but getting better. Her top line isn't as sunken in as it was before. It's amazing what proper feed and space can do in a short time!
1112898

Here is baby, just in her grain pen at the moment. She's normally out with a big old babysitter gelding, but he'll eat her grain so we feed her separately. We're still working on getting her thick winter coat out.
1112900
 

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The mare looks really great considering what she has been thru, including carrying then having to feed a foal:(. Thank you for taking them:)

She could probably use another 40-50#, not more than 60. I would think. It will be difficult for you to keep her on the svelte side, if you鈥檙e used to beefy built horses, but it really is in her best interest to be less heavy once her ribs get covered:)

She looks like she has nice big hooves!!:)

The weanling is a little cutie 鈥攕he likes to roll in the mud doesn鈥檛 she, lollol

They are both in my favorite color hue:):)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The mare looks really great considering what she has been thru, including carrying then having to feed a foal:(. Thank you for taking them:)

She could probably use another 40-50#, not more than 60. I would think. It will be difficult for you to keep her on the svelte side, if you鈥檙e used to beefy built horses, but it really is in her best interest to be less heavy once her ribs get covered:)

She looks like she has nice big hooves!!:)

The weanling is a little cutie 鈥攕he likes to roll in the mud doesn鈥檛 she, lollol

They are both in my favorite color hue:):)
Yeah, her hooves are great considering she hasn't seen a farrier in 2 years. I just recently scheduled a chiro/mt visit for Ellie and hopefully that will help as well. Basil is certainly a mud fiend and she's almost always laying flat out in the mud when I get to the barn! When the vet comes out on Friday, I will ask plenty of questions about what kind of work she can be doing. I really appreciate all the advice you've given us!
 

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I took more of a "yoga" approach rather than a "weight training" approach with my 17-now-19 y.o. TWH mare for re-conditioning. She wasn't a rescue, but she was a bit of a mess for assorted reasons, and was a bit down in the back. My situation keeps me riding mostly in my small home arena or my slightly sloping 5 acre pasture, and trail rides (I'm only good for about an hour) mean a trailer trip once a week or so if I'm lucky. I have a few books that describe various gymnastic type exercises that are of course designed for trotting horses, but a surprising amount of good work can be done at a walk, which is about where my girl needed to start. She was pretty stiff and hollow (typical of a pacey TWH) and didn't have good responses to aids, so we spent a lot of time on the ground learning those, which then made the saddle exercises more effective. We do have the luxury of sloping ground to do some specific exercises. Two years on, with this work and good nutrition, she has quite a nice topline, all filled in behind the withers, etc. We've built some good communication this way as well.
 

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Hello all!

Apologies if you've already seen my threads on Ellie (and Basil), this is going to be a bit of repeat information. I have a (previously told 7 years old, aged by the vet at 10) tennessee walker rescue mare. She clearly used to be incredibly well broke due to the amount of training she has, but was nearly starved and became incredibly skinny after the birth of her foal (who I also own). I got her recently (just about 2 weeks ago) and she is already looking so much better. I'm absolutely falling in love with this mare more and more every day.

She is at a weight that my vet feels is healthy enough to start work on the ground. She needs to build a lot of muscle in her topline and hindquarters, but her shoulders look great. Usually I would do a lot of trot sets to build muscle, but obviously she doesn't trot. Does gaiting (she really only does flat walk/running walk/canter) build muscle the same way as trotting? Is there a certain method I should use (lunging, ground driving, round penning, hand walking, hot walker, etc) to get her in the correct frame to build muscle correctly? I've done the rehab process a few times but never with a gaited horse.

Also - when is an appropriate weight/muscling to start riding? She's been ridden a lot before and is very well broke, so it's not like putting muscle on a green horse. I will also ask my vet when she comes out to float Ellie's teeth. I'm a very balanced rider with lightweight tack, but I don't want to put too much stress on her if she can't handle it.

Thank you so much!
I have always had success in the past by trotting the horse 2-5 miles a day in a jog cart. It will muscle them up with definition and also the nutritional aspect is vital to feed good hay and if you can get it whole Barley, or oats.
Good Hay is number one, try alfalfa mix 30% to 70% long hay first cutting made with no rain before July 1st.
When buying hay all that criteria is almost impossible to track but as the hay season progress the quality decreases quickly to where there is no nutrition and protein for the horse, just filler.
 

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Gaited horses are not that much different than stock horses, work with her on hills - do some backing exercises from the ground - teach her to side pass from the ground and work all of her muscles. Lack of muscle bulk is best handled with good nutrition and building up through slow work. Good Luck! She is cute!
 
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