Getting a horse back in riding shape - The Horse Forum
  • 1 Post By Boo Walker
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post #1 of 6 Old 09-18-2018, 11:51 AM Thread Starter
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Thumbs up Getting a horse back in riding shape

My horse has spent the last month losing weight. She had "extreme obesity" according to her vet because of how overfed and neglected she was by her previous owner. We were told to keep her on grass and hay but no feed. She has dropped a lot of weight and is getting around much better. I was told she used to be a roper but she hasn't been ridden in over 4 years. Yesterday she took a bit like a champ and I rode her bareback (the saddle I have doesn't fit her so I can only bareback). I have no round pen but would like to work her harder without me on her back to get he back into shape before riding her often. Is there anything I can do without a round pen? I have tried just using a lunge line but after 2+ hours of trying, I haven't gotten her to understand what I want her to do. Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 6 Old 09-18-2018, 12:04 PM
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Carry a long driving whip and use that as your pointer or even a very long light weight dowel and that tells her the distance to go out and can lightly poke her shoulder if she moves in. Praise, praise , praise and once she gets the idea she will go to the end of the line on her own.
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post #3 of 6 Old 09-18-2018, 12:05 PM
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The horse may just not know how to lunge...teach her.
Going for a walk together, a easier slow ride increasing the amount of time you ride her and what intensity her work is will increase her stamina as she loses weight, builds muscle and endurance and gets cardio fit.
Go slow and remember "couch potato" happens to horses too.

Just ride...
Many horses have no idea of what a round pen is and honestly, for a fat horse so out of condition round penning and lunging is a huge strain to their legs and joints...forget the heart & lungs!
Ride and go for walks together.
Slowly start to add a jog or trot work into the routine as she is able...when you can "working" walk for 15 minutes steady and trot for 2 steady you are well on your way to a fit horse...that is a lot harder than it sounds like.
Build slowly as just walking around at a faster pace than a mope is hard-work for a out-of-shape horse or rider for that matter.

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #4 of 6 Old 09-18-2018, 12:58 PM
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You'll both probably be happier with more riding and less round pen / lunging which is hard on horses and boring for any length of time. You're doing good getting her started bareback, just walking around. When she begins putting a lighter spring in her walking stride, add some trotting. There's no quick solution. It took her awhile to get fat and out of shape, it will take some time to return to better fitness. But you're definitely on the right track!
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post #5 of 6 Old 09-18-2018, 03:44 PM
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Denny Emerson, one of the best eventers and trainers of... well, ever... conditions all his performance horses from scratch by getting on and JUST walking. And walking and walking and walking and walking. Weeks and weeks and hours and hours of walking all over the countryside. Eventually he builds from there but that walking is critical to the plan.

I wouldn't be looking to do anything more intense with this horse. She's overweight, she's coming back from being in the verge of laminitic, and hasn't been used in years. Lots of walking and exploring will be good for your bond, too. And it should help with the weight loss without putting too much stress on her body and joints while she gets stronger.
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post #6 of 6 Old 09-19-2018, 11:40 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys! I have been very encouraged by what yall are telling me because that's all we have been doing. She has been doing great and I can't wait to see where this takes her!
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