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Hi all, wondering if I could get some opinions/advice on the current situation with my horse.

I have a 14.3hh 13 yr old QH mare (had her since 2013) who was diagnosed with navicular disease in 2015. We started her on Osphos and she's been on it ever since. I went away to college in 2015 and I've been away from home since then (currently pursuing a master's degree). I'm planning on moving back home within the next month and finishing my degree, SUPER excited about it because I'm so ready to be back with my girl. I've been riding off and on for about 20 years, always been a horse lover. (Something my family does NOT share).

Prior to my moving away, she was in good shape, rode on a regular basis in an arena/out in pasture. In the 5 years I've been gone she's been free grazing on approximately 10 acres and has become extremely fat. I haven't been able to give her the care she needs and deserves due to being gone (I couldn't afford to have her with me). But I also wasn't able to find anyone that could/would lease her/buy her etc. because of the navicular. I didn't want to sell because I hoped that I'd be able to pick up riding again and also- I'm obviously incredibly attached to her.

Anyways. My current plan with her is to start using a grazing muzzle when she's out grazing, and penning her up at night in a small dry lot with a hay net. I don't currently own a saddle, and since she's so fat I was considering buying a bareback pad for the time being to begin legging her up. I will obviously be monitoring her feet/watching her for lameness and will start her off slow. I've ridden her off and on for the last several years but nothing consistent. My vet came out the other day to vaccinate her/float her teeth, but I haven't actually been able to speak to him yet- I plan on calling when I get back.

Do y'all have any recommendations/advice for me on any of this? I've been researching overweight horses and it's all a little overwhelming at times.

Thanks!!
 

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I would start bringing her back to shape by going for walks with her, making her more active than just meandering around a pasture she does currently.
Build those walks from a few minutes to about a 1/2 hour of walking...
Then I would introduce her to riding her and knock the time back to about 15 minutes of good walking at a nice pace...build from that.
Once she is able to walk at a good pace for 1/2 hour without any issue of blowing or heaving sides from exertion time then add a few minutes of trot work...
Again, mix it up and extend by a few minutes every couple of days so the horses body is slowly conditioning and increasing her cardio along with her endurance.
When you reach a point where you are trotting for a few minutes non-stop and no blowing, then introduce the next gait of canter/lope...
All of course needing to watch closely for those bad steps, the stumbles, the sore of gimp or limp if her navicular needs addressing to the next step of keeping her comfortable.
Slow and steady would be my plan for the benefit of the horses comfort level maintained.


Riding bareback at first won't hurt her at a walk.
By the time you start trotting you might want some padding of that bareback pad...
A saddle now as she tones-up and loses weight will need to be refit once she has lost her couch-potato status as you know.
Let your horse guide you in what she needs to be comfortable carrying you astride after her vacation time now over.
Welcome back to the world of horse and enjoyment of riding time. :smile:
:runninghorse2:...
 

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I’m in a similar boar that I have an overweight horse and can’t spend too much time riding.

What I’ve been told and have been able to implement some of those things

You’re on the right path to restrict her grazing. Not sure where you’re at, in Ontario we’re headed into winter. Some provinces got snow early. So that should help with restricting feed and using it up to stay warm.

The riding part, you can probably get away with a bareback pad for awhile. She sounds like a cushy ride. I’ve done that before. No point buying a saddle when you know her shape will change and it won’t fit anymore.
Start slow and long distance. Mostly walking. Then adding trotting. As far as when and how much will be up to you to figure out. For me I ended up getting a heart monitor to see if I’m overdoing it or not enough. I have so far rode around 400km since the start of the year, most of that is on the trail at a walk and some trot. I got the heart monitor a few months ago, and noticed that his HR doesn’t go out of phase 1, essentially barely awake. So the last little bit I started a conditioning program. This gets him sweating to the point where he’s soaked.
The start of it goes like this:
5m walk warm up
2m trot left, 1m walk, 2m trot right, 1m walk
2m canter left, 1m walk, 2m canter right.
5m walk cool down. Then go for a walk or trail ride until he’s mostly dry.

The following weeks you add a min to trot and canter. Everything else stays the same. About 3 times a week.

I only started this and due to one reason or another have not been able to be consistent, so don’t really have any results.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you Horselovinguy! :)

Saigold, I'm in Texas so we're also headed into "winter" which doesn't mean a whole lot down here, but still. She is pretty cushy, so I think she'll be fine for now but I'm gonna keep an eye on her for soreness when I start to work her a little harder and I plan on buying a saddle once she drops some weight.

What kind of heart monitor did you get? I've never used one for a horse before.

That workout program sounds doable, it's pretty similar to what I've done with her in the past/what I had in mind for when I start to increase her workload. She looks pretty similar to your guy, in terms of body condition. He's super cute :) Love the tiger stripes.
 
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Thanks! He’s got some neat markings on him.

The heart monitor I went with is hylofit. It’s wireless and easy to work with. It’s not cheap, it was $250US for the monitor for the horse and for rider. They do sell them separately now too (I think it was $200 just for the horse HR monitor). I found a discount code that gave me 20% off. I believe it was ‘900pony20’.

It took me a bit to get it to pick up a consistent signal for the horse, but once I started using ultrasound gel, I haven’t had anymore issues. The app is free now, you can download and see if you like what you see before getting the device. And since you’re in the states already, you won’t have the custom fees.

There’s others available but I like this one because it’s wireless.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Oh that looks cool! I'll have to do some research, thank you!!
 
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