View Full Version : young horses, unreliable body...Please tell me it can be done

Dec. 28, 2009, 04:23 PM
Looking for success stories for riders with unreliable bodies working with young horses. I'm really bummed by how ill I've been this fall especially since I was hoping to do more work with my 3.5 year old. Thankfully, she has a lovely mind. I'm looking into doing more ground work to save my body but I'm just...so...bummed.

I have a rare condition that shares a lot of the same symptoms as Fibro and MS. Which means if I overdue it, I can be out for weeks afterward. Even on good days it has to be managed.

I think one of the advantages of being sort of...well...fragile...when riding a young horse is that you're not likely to overdue it from their point of view :D
I really want to event this filly. I've never evented, but jumped and done dressage, I'm nearly 50 and my body revolts on a regular basis.

Dec. 28, 2009, 05:34 PM
Sure why not:-) You will be suprised at how much your horse retains, even if you can't work her all the time.. I was trying to get video of my 2 ISH fillies yesterday (2 and 3 years old). And turning them loose in the huge driving arena was unsuccessfull a couple of weeks ago. All they did was inspect the video person and me in the gator chasing them...

So with relatives visiting for xmas, I had my sister-in-law get on the back of the carriage and pony the mares off of it. My sister-in-law is just learning to be horsey, and the mares had not been turned out in 2days and had not been ponied from the carriage in 6 to 7 months. A disaster waiting to happen and in actuallity they were well behaved angels:-)

So as long as you limit yourself to what you can handle and always try to have a goal for each time you work with your filly, whether it is to learn one new thing, or just review what she already knows, progress will be made.

I find myself often suprised at how much they actually know when I don't even think I've taught them:)

The one big thing I find is that often you have to watch out for loseing the forward because you can't walk fast enough or jog on the ground to keep up.

Good luck.

DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"
Dec. 28, 2009, 05:49 PM
Let me also assure you how much the ground work translates to the saddle, not just for the horse, but for you.

Just remember (and I am guilty of this as well) there is no set time schedule. Do what is best for them, considering where you are at the time, and that will also translate into what is best for you.

Dec. 28, 2009, 06:14 PM
I have a condition very much like yours. My immune system is all messed up and very weak. I do things, often dumb things, and I often end up paying for them by being basically bedridden. This being said, I often figure I have nothing to lose. I can sit around doing nothing and be in pain. I can have a blast doing dangerous, exciting things and be in pain. Obviously, I go for danger ;)

If you do nothing and take no risks, you never get to truly live. People worry about me getting hurt, but if I accomplish something and injury is the result, I still have an accomplishment.

I do tons of ground work with my guys. I backed my warmblood with no fireworks. She just turned and looked at me. The work you do on the ground really follows through to riding. I do lots of ground driving and long lining.

Everything is on hold due to the horrible footing, but I know my horses will be how I left them. I just go slow and steady.

Good luck :)

Dec. 30, 2009, 11:45 PM
Thanks for the support.
One of my big concerns is working her regularly enough to develop real strength in her back and to keep her tendons and ligaments strong.
I've seen so many injured horses over the last few years :( I really don't want her to become one of them.

Dec. 31, 2009, 03:35 AM
Put a base of long, slow distance on her next year. (this year in 24 hrs or so.) Lots and lots and lots of walking, on pavement if you can. Building it up. That is the best way to strengthen bones and tendons in ANY horse, but most especially, the work done with a young horse puts the foundation on for the rest of their lives.

If you have hills, walk them when that's all you can do is walk. An endurance rider once told me you can basically double the time spent on hills vs. flat. So walking on gentle hills for 1/2 hr is going to be as good as 1 hr flat.

I've had my share of injuries (and now Fibro/CFS) and if all I can do is walk 20 minutes in the hill pasture, it's better than nothing. ;)

For inspiration, might I suggest doing a search on the dressage forum for Leena's posts. I hope her older ones are not gone. She had some AMAZING insights when she was very weak from Chemo in the beginning. About less being more, and being lighter and more balanced... it's humbling and awesome.

I have been frustrated by extended periods of not riding. Sometimes injury to me, sometimes the horse, sometimes family illness, etc. I can't say I know how frustrating it is for you or others, but can only share what has worked for me, and kept my horses sound and sane despite my human failings. ;)

Lambie Boat
Jan. 3, 2010, 01:04 AM
When I was first dx'd w/ MS, I ran out and got 3 very young horses, thinking "it's now or never. These will be my last 3". wow. Talk about being in denial.
I was trying to out-ride the disease. Well. Almost 5 years later and they are still green broke, barely started and I don't have the real money to send even one out for a professional start. They are very athletic and fresh, tend to buck quite a bit, which is hard to stay with since I can't feel my legs or feet off and on. I also have hella vertigo, which leave lunging basically out too. Now they are older and I can't sell even one, as now people wonder what's wrong with THEM since they're not ride-able. I don't want to tell everyone my medical problems so here I sit, with 3 very fancy, expensive, pasture ornaments.

your mileage may vary of course. I do the best I can but it's not near enough. I blew it, big time

Jan. 9, 2010, 02:17 PM
Oh Lambie, I feel your pain. Do you have a non-greenie to ride?
I actually have 3 babies..the 3.5 year old, a 20 month old (Pushing 16H) and a 9 month old (over 14H) all from the same dam. Unfortunately, the mare was PTS this fall. She was a very special horse, and her babies are just like her. So, while I should probably be riding a retiree schoolmaster, the babies mean an awful lot to me and I cannot imagine finding another horse who is like any one of them. So I have years of young ones ahead.
I've done a lot in my life, but there are very few things in my life I *really wanted*. About most things I've been flexible and practical and have had only a few that I dreamed about that were always there in my heart. I really really WANT to have the 20 month old be my forever horse. (although the 9 month old is looking to stay as well. lol)

Jan. 9, 2010, 05:16 PM
Hi Stacie,
If your goal is to keep and ride your young horses and enjoy them as forever horses, then you may need to keep your eye on the prize. Please consider changing the tools in your tool box.

I think you may live near Upperville. If so, You have a superb P.T. in Middleburg who rides and has worked with young horses. She has helped me develop adaptations for training and riding, so I can function better and spend more time with the horses and much less being miserable.

You may need to find another rider/trainer to back up your work and program. There is nothing wrong with having a second person to help you reach your goal. We live in Mecca for horsefolk. There are many ways to arrange how the person helps you. One example would be to help that person with one of her 2 person problems. You do have the knowledge, and on the good days you can physically do the moves. Many things are easier to teach the horse if there is an assistant or second person.

Another thing that works is using clicker training in addition to traditional ground training. When the horses are being rehabbed or otherwise not being ridden, I work with clicker/operant conditioning/positive re-enforcement to teach them more things to do on command. They love it, and then start adding new things to the conversation to see if I like their offerings. I have taught them head down, open and close gates, pick up things for me, parts of their bodies and movement. Cadriver has a much big list that she has taught. The common thread, is that the horses learn how to take care of us, better.

In a different thread, you asked about connamarras. I had a spectacular one, and would love to talk with you about yours.

P.M. me if you would like more encouragement. I'm close to you, and there is always coffee and a treat in Middleburg.

Jan. 9, 2010, 08:15 PM
The common thread, is that the horses learn how to take care of us, better.

In a different thread, you asked about connamarras. I had a spectacular one, and would love to talk with you about yours.

It's interesting that you mention teaching them to take care of us. I've been thinking about that lately and I think it'd be a great way to develop a stronger relationship without a lot of physical output. Not to mention that it sounds like a lot of FUN. The 3 year old has been my husband's horse since birth but I have been teaching her to roll onto her toe with her hoof on the floor so I can pick them without having to hold them.

Can you recommend a particular resource (book, video,person) for teaching these particular types of skills? Seems like there would be a natural order in which to teach them so they would build on each other.

I can picture the 20 month old in particular getting all excited about picking things up for me :lol: She is so intelligent. Well all three are.

My husband helps me with the training. He captures, cleans, tacks up. He's very quiet and patient (he enables them tooo much sometimes) So in a lot of ways, I'm very spoiled.

I'd love to talk with you about Malley.

Jan. 9, 2010, 09:11 PM
sent email

Jan. 20, 2010, 01:59 AM
Stacie, I have taught my TB mare to pick up her feet for me to pick. Initially, I would tap on the leg I wanted either with the hoof pick or my hand. When she would pick it up I would pat her and tell her good girl. I always went around her body in the same direction. She soon learned the routine and I no longer had to tap her leg. I could just point and added the word foot and she learned to pick it up. It is so nice as she picks it up and holds it, so I barely have to hold it with my non-hoof pick hand. Perhaps get a saddle that is more secure like an endurance, western or deep seated all purpose english. My current horse is 15 this year, and next month I will be 56. I am thinking that I need to be getting another youngster soon to work with, so I will have a replacement for my been there, done that mare when she needs to retire.