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View Full Version : Riding a heavy bodied horse after riding Arabs forever!



Cartfall
Jun. 10, 2010, 11:31 AM
I recently purchased a TWH. I have had him since late Feb. We had a cold (for Florida) winter. He gets ridden 2 or 3 times a week, usually a couple of hourse, mostly flat walk and we are still working on the running walk now and again.

The riding season in Florida is usually Spt to May. Some of we die hards ride all year round. Coming from Arabians that can cool out in a minute's notice, I have noticed Smokey does not cool out as easily. Haven;t had any real trouble until this past Saturday. It was unusually humid for this early in the season and hot hot hot. We were out for our usual ride and back at the trails before 11. The other horse a SSH cooled out fairly easily in the shade. Smokey is a heavy bodied TWH, more like a mountain horse, with a butt and legs built for climbing. He stood and panted for a good half an hour. We were in the shade. When we got home, (another 25 minutes) he was still blowing a little, not nearly as bad. But that seems an inordinately long time to cool out.

He sweats, gets electrolytes before and after rides, has a very slick summer coat, he just had a really bad time cooling out this time. IN fact, he is so heavy bodied, when I first saw him I thought he was a draft cross. He gaits beautifully so I know he is some sort of gaited breed.

He also kept stopping on me, I thought he had to pee. He has never demonstrated this behavior before. Now that I look back, he was asking to stop because he was so hot.

AFter years of super cool out Arabs, this is new to me. I know I will have to watch more closely for heat stress.

He may be a horse I can;t ride in the heavy humid heat down here.

I don;t usually carry a sponge because there aren;t many places down here on our trails that have water. Mostly at the trail heads only. I do know to pull the saddle, sponge him off after we get back to the trailers. This particular trail head had no water and my wate tank was pretty close to empty so I did what I could.

He seems to have recovered but I haven;t done any more riding with him since.

He is on night pasture (really good pasture), a couple of pats of coastal hay during the day and about a pound of alfalfa soaked cubes as well. Feed is a ration balancer in the mornings and evenings (occasionally). Some days they just want to go out on the pasture and the heck with supper. Which my purse is loving.

I am open to any ideas that might help.

craz4crtrs
Jun. 10, 2010, 12:30 PM
It really sounds like more of a fitness issue. More work in the arena building stamina, then start with shorter trail rides. Lunging maybe, hot walker, what ever you have time for.

Being a heavy built horse isn't necessarily the problem. I have two drafties, a fjordx and a perchiex. The fjordx, in particular, can out walk a lot of horses and go all day barely breaking a sweat and not breathing hard. He doesn't use a lot of energy compared to some other horses, :lol:, but he'll out walk most horses if he's in the front and can dawdle with the best of them if he's in the back. He will sweat if its hot or we've been riding hard, but he recovers really fast.

The perchiex is younger and we haven't had him out as much yet, but when we have, he really walks in front, and is happy in back, too. Doesn't have any issues getting his breath back either.

If this continues with your horse, you might want to get him vet checked. Meanwhile, work on fitness.

Auventera Two
Jun. 10, 2010, 02:26 PM
I agree it's probably a fitness issue. I've seen Arabs at endurance rides not recover and get pulled so it's not necessarily a small horse/big horse problem. When I first got Andre, he would blow and sweat after 5 minutes of romping around his paddock. Now he could probably canter to the state border before he got tired. He's pure Arab so it was definitely a fitness issue. I spend a lot of time building wind and strength through free longing (large paddock - 100x200 - so no small circling), and just miles. You can trot cavalleti or ground poles, do long walks up hills (ok you're in Florida - probably no hills). Sand! You have sand in Florida :) Walking through deep'ish sand builds strength. Be careful so you don't pull soft tissue. We also spend as much time as possible in the river in the deep water. We ride upstream into the current, which builds a considerable amount of strength. And it's fun too! http://www.hphoofcare.com/swim1.jpg One of her first swimming lessons: http://www.hphoofcare.com/deep%20water.jpg Of course we don't have alligators in our water. LOL

clm08
Jun. 10, 2010, 03:01 PM
I'd not work him in deep sand, unless you want to risk causing a bowed tendon.

When you said you sponged him after the ride, did you sponge and scrape off? It is the removal of water from their bodies that cools them off, not the wetting.

Did your horse had plenty to drink during and after the ride, if you gave him electrolytes before and after the ride? Did he sweat enough?

I am not an endurance rider (having only done one intro to competitive trail ride, but it wasn't too hot and my horse was in good shape). I do eventing and after a XC phase when it is 90 F and humid, I make sure my Arab gets electrolytes at least 3 h prior to the run so he has time to drink water before heading out. After the finish line we sponge him and scrape him quickly and continuously until we feel the water coming off of him cool to the touch. Obviously we also offer him water to drink, but the truth is, he rarely drinks immediately.

There may be a degree of fitness and a degree of hot, humid weather affecting him. Arabs are relatively smaller (body mass to body surface) and have thinner skin and can dissipate heat more easily, whereas heavier bodied horses have greater body mass to surface ratio and don't cool down as easily.

katarine
Jun. 10, 2010, 03:58 PM
as a fellow southerner, I feel your humidity.

I would invest in a Dixie Midnight saddle pad liner (or some knock off that you are comfortable with) and build his fitness level up. He'll get there, but do give him time and short rides. An alcohol/water rinse and scrape and repeat really seems to help pull the heat off...

Stopping may have been a mild episode of him trying to tie up on you (azoturia? I think is the proper name).

Best wishes in sorting him out.

Cartfall
Jun. 10, 2010, 06:30 PM
Having some LD and CTR experience with pure Arabs, I know the basics=

scrape the water off,
only give electrolytes if they have water to drink not to make them drink.
as Florida is selenium void, he also gets a small amount of selenium and vitamen E supplement.

I am surprised if it is the fitness issue. We have been riding pretty consistently between 7 and 10 miles every ride, Sat and Sunday, and usually one day during the week for a couple of hours or less. Mostly dog walk, some flat walk and working on the running walk (read--a little of it gets done for short bursts of time or distance). We have ridden like this for at least 3 months. The day he demonstrated the heat issue, was no longer in time or distance. It was a trail we have ridden many times as it is close to home. Not a lot of deep sand, mostly good footing.

I have seen a horse tie up, and I don;t think that was the issue here. He walked up into the trailer and out of the trailer just like always. Stood for his cooling out rinse and scrape off. I actually left him crosstied under the fans in the barn aisle for 10 or so to help cool him out further. Once he was turned out, he rolled and went trotting into his stall for hay.

So if it is a fitness issue, which in my mind asking the horse to go farther, faster than normal would show up as a problem.

I don;t do arena work for a couple of reasons--I am a trail rider now, and I never have cared for it. I am not sure why arena work would help here? Not arguing, just wanting more explanation.

I have conditioned my Arabs for driving events over the last couple of years using my experience from CTR and LD and they never had an issue. I still drive CTR when there is a drive division, so am current in my conditioning experience.
I have always done all of my conditioning on the trails, never an arena.

Does it take longer for a heavy bodied horse to get conditioned? It is not as if I have increased any demands on him for distance or speed quickly, we started riding for an hour at the walk, and slowly have gone up to what I mentioned above. This has been over 3 months plus a few days. He had not been ridden for 4 years before I got him.
It was cold then (for Florida) and has been really nice and cool until about 3 weeks ago, when we jumped to a really hot summer. No spring this year.

craz4crtrs
Jun. 10, 2010, 07:35 PM
Having some LD and CTR experience with pure Arabs, I know the basics=

scrape the water off,
only give electrolytes if they have water to drink not to make them drink.
as Florida is selenium void, he also gets a small amount of selenium and vitamen E supplement.

I am surprised if it is the fitness issue. We have been riding pretty consistently between 7 and 10 miles every ride, Sat and Sunday, and usually one day during the week for a couple of hours or less. Mostly dog walk, some flat walk and working on the running walk (read--a little of it gets done for short bursts of time or distance). We have ridden like this for at least 3 months. The day he demonstrated the heat issue, was no longer in time or distance. It was a trail we have ridden many times as it is close to home. Not a lot of deep sand, mostly good footing.

I have seen a horse tie up, and I don;t think that was the issue here. He walked up into the trailer and out of the trailer just like always. Stood for his cooling out rinse and scrape off. I actually left him crosstied under the fans in the barn aisle for 10 or so to help cool him out further. Once he was turned out, he rolled and went trotting into his stall for hay.

So if it is a fitness issue, which in my mind asking the horse to go farther, faster than normal would show up as a problem.

I don;t do arena work for a couple of reasons--I am a trail rider now, and I never have cared for it. I am not sure why arena work would help here? Not arguing, just wanting more explanation.

I have conditioned my Arabs for driving events over the last couple of years using my experience from CTR and LD and they never had an issue. I still drive CTR when there is a drive division, so am current in my conditioning experience.
I have always done all of my conditioning on the trails, never an arena.

Does it take longer for a heavy bodied horse to get conditioned? It is not as if I have increased any demands on him for distance or speed quickly, we started riding for an hour at the walk, and slowly have gone up to what I mentioned above. This has been over 3 months plus a few days. He had not been ridden for 4 years before I got him.
It was cold then (for Florida) and has been really nice and cool until about 3 weeks ago, when we jumped to a really hot summer. No spring this year.

Why would arena work help? Because a person might not have time to go on a 10 mile ride, but have 30 minutes to lope circles. That would go a long way helping on his fitness. That is also why I mentioned the hot walker. There is a reason performance horses and race horses spend time on the walker. Just not for cool down.

I have had a lot of arabs, too. I lost my last one last September. Arabs tend to walk, trot, lope and play more on pasture than my drafties do. So the drafties need more riding time for fitness. They don't self exercise the same amount as my arabs did. The drafties can do some pretty cool airs above the ground, but it doesn't take long for them to wind down and get down to more important things....eat.

goeslikestink
Jun. 10, 2010, 07:48 PM
I recently purchased a TWH. I have had him since late Feb. We had a cold (for Florida) winter. He gets ridden 2 or 3 times a week, usually a couple of hourse, mostly flat walk and we are still working on the running walk now and again.

The riding season in Florida is usually Spt to May. Some of we die hards ride all year round. Coming from Arabians that can cool out in a minute's notice, I have noticed Smokey does not cool out as easily. Haven;t had any real trouble until this past Saturday. It was unusually humid for this early in the season and hot hot hot. We were out for our usual ride and back at the trails before 11. The other horse a SSH cooled out fairly easily in the shade. Smokey is a heavy bodied TWH, more like a mountain horse, with a butt and legs built for climbing. He stood and panted for a good half an hour. We were in the shade. When we got home, (another 25 minutes) he was still blowing a little, not nearly as bad. But that seems an inordinately long time to cool out.

He sweats, gets electrolytes before and after rides, has a very slick summer coat, he just had a really bad time cooling out this time. IN fact, he is so heavy bodied, when I first saw him I thought he was a draft cross. He gaits beautifully so I know he is some sort of gaited breed.

He also kept stopping on me, I thought he had to pee. He has never demonstrated this behavior before. Now that I look back, he was asking to stop because he was so hot.

AFter years of super cool out Arabs, this is new to me. I know I will have to watch more closely for heat stress.

He may be a horse I can;t ride in the heavy humid heat down here.

I don;t usually carry a sponge because there aren;t many places down here on our trails that have water. Mostly at the trail heads only. I do know to pull the saddle, sponge him off after we get back to the trailers. This particular trail head had no water and my wate tank was pretty close to empty so I did what I could.

He seems to have recovered but I haven;t done any more riding with him since.

He is on night pasture (really good pasture), a couple of pats of coastal hay during the day and about a pound of alfalfa soaked cubes as well. Feed is a ration balancer in the mornings and evenings (occasionally). Some days they just want to go out on the pasture and the heck with supper. Which my purse is loving.

I am open to any ideas that might help.

urm- get hold of thomas 1 and ask him for his fitness programme as this is a fitness related thing as thomas is more wiser to your weather etc
he will be able to advice you better than i , might have to donate to his fund as i am sure he sells these to but well worth it
not only that but hes competed in a variety of things all over the world
so he knows like i said the enverioment and the condition of things that your facing

Cartfall
Jun. 10, 2010, 10:00 PM
Why would arena work help? Because a person might not have time to go on a 10 mile ride, but have 30 minutes to lope circles. That would go a long way helping on his fitness. That is also why I mentioned the hot walker. There is a reason performance horses and race horses spend time on the walker. Just not for cool down.

I have had a lot of arabs, too. I lost my last one last September. Arabs tend to walk, trot, lope and play more on pasture than my drafties do. So the drafties need more riding time for fitness. They don't self exercise the same amount as my arabs did. The drafties can do some pretty cool airs above the ground, but it doesn't take long for them to wind down and get down to more important things....eat.

This is exactly what I need to hear-- the heavy bodied mentality or perhaps I should say cold blooded mentality is sure different from my Arabs. They always run out to the pasture and do laps. Smokey will walk out about 15 yards and drop his head, no wasted effort there. On the rare times he does let go and do a buck or two, you can see the wheels moving in his brain.
So the self exercise thing is missing. My two Arabians will all of a sudden just for the pure joy, take off tails flying and run several laps, just because they can. Smokey just watchs.

I can ride him around my hay field which is about a mile around each day. I don;t have an arena per say, but this will work.

Thanks

DandyMatiz
Jun. 10, 2010, 10:25 PM
Yeah. Matiz and his buddy Roper are in the same turn out. It's probably about 2 acres. Matiz runs and jumps around and bucks and trots (lots of trotting) around all day. When he stands still for more than a few mins, the barn owner goes to check on him, because it's not like him, unless he's eating or drinking. What does roper (QH) do? he stands and turns and watches matiz running around him. Roper is 3yo.. not like he's ancient or anything. But for the last 2 years, that's how it's been lol. We had them in the round pen for a day or so (redoing fencing) and Matiz, trotted a path around it.. roper stood in the center and just watched all day long lol. No matter what Mat does, he can't get roper to play lol (both are stallions btw. Someone said once it's probably cuz Roper is a gelding, but he's not.. so that can't be why he's so fricken lazy lol) .

Lieselotte
Jun. 10, 2010, 11:03 PM
What saddle pad are you using? It should be a natural material that can breathe and let the body heat out instead of trapping it. Also check the material of the inserts (if your pad has them) and see if your horse can sweat through those as well.
Wool, or better even real sheepskin with the wool still on it (I use the one from Fleeceworks and it is amazing!), might be the way to go for a heat sensitive horse. I know wool sounds counterintuitive but it really works.

In the same vein: What saddle are you using? Does it have a wide channel for airflow, and is it real leather or synthetic? If you ride in a (synthetic) treeless saddle, the right saddle pad is even more crucial because otherwise all body heat is trapped right underneath you.

Another possible heat trap are your saddle bags, depending on their location, pommel or cantle, and if they sit on the saddle pad or the horse. Normally I wouldn't worry too much about that but in your case, until your horse's fitness level has been improved, any little thing may make him more comfortable.

As for sponging and scraping, check out a recent discussion on Ridecamp (www.endurance.net) as there are a lot of interesting points as to when you're actually cooling your horse down vs. shutting down his natural sweating, etc. Some food for thought there.

Gestalt
Jun. 10, 2010, 11:07 PM
It absolutely can be the body type. I live in the PNW and at a few CDE's (combined driving events) I've seen some of the Friesans (sp?) hit the wall from the heat. They're big, black and have a different muscle type.

What about body clipping? I know you said he's slick already, but maybe even a hunter trace clip can help cool him faster.

Be careful "fitting" him up to hot weather. It can be done, but it's definitely more work for you and your horse.

Cartfall
Jun. 10, 2010, 11:46 PM
lieselotte, I am using a pvc pad, allows air flow .

My saddle is dressage saddle, cut back with plenty of air flow threw the gullet and back. I can put a crop all the way through there is so much air clearance. I ride with a small cantle bag that is made so it rides on the saddle with very little contact with the horse. A small pocket allows the cantle bag to be actually slipped up on the rear of the seat, it is then stapped in place so it can;t slip. Same for pommel bags when I use them, don;t usually.

Gestalt, PNW? I actually clipped the horse in Mid April. He came to me like a wooly bear, really natty coat, non-descript color, bleached out. I clipped him so I could see the color he really was. He is as slick as my Arabs right now. I don;t think clipping is going to help. That has always been my answer to an overheated horse--clip them. He just does not have much hair to clip.

clm08
Jun. 10, 2010, 11:53 PM
It seems you are already doing everything well as far as conditioning and cooling him down. Strictly from the eventing experience of conditioning for cross country and how different body types react to heat, heavier bodied horses take longer to condition and suffer more from the heat. That's one reason TB usually do better than warmbloods in cross country. It may take a lot longer to get him up to the same fitness as your arabs.

Daatje
Jun. 11, 2010, 09:06 AM
I went from an Arabian to a Friesian (don't ask me why, I'm still trying to figure that one out!) and it has been an uphill battle from day one getting the mare fit and building her work ethic!

I think we've done admirably well as she can now hunt first field and keep up with the master on all but the hottest and most humid of days, but it has taken vast amounts of work on both our parts.

My Arab was a dream in comparison! Boy do I miss him and would love to get another....but I digress.

Yes, the heavier, slower minded horse will fizzle in the hot humid weather and yes, they require much more work to get a fraction of the fitness you would see out of a lighter, hotter breed.

Stinks, but them's the brakes. :D

Painted Horse
Jun. 11, 2010, 12:52 PM
It was 43* this morning when I got up and our high today will be 66*. And Utah typically has almost no humidity. I just don't have a problem cooling out my horses most of the time. I doubt I could add anything informative to your question.

So you can gloat about wonderful riding temps in January while I'm buried in snow, and I get to boast about wonderful summer temps while you swelter in the heat.

I have an arab cross that does recover much quicker at the vet checks than any of my Foxtrotters. I just have to accept that my Foxtrotters will never have those kind of recoveries. My focus has been more of living with in the limits of what they can do. Making sure their recoveries are within the vet check limits.

When the summer heat does arrive, I have the opportunity to go to higher elevations where it is cooler. A 20 minute trailer from my home gains me 3000 foot of elevation and a 15* drop in temps.

Cartfall
Jun. 11, 2010, 03:30 PM
I doubt I could add anything informative to your question.

So you can gloat about wonderful riding temps in January while I'm buried in snow, and I get to boast about wonderful summer temps while you swelter in the heat.

When the summer heat does arrive, I have the opportunity to go to higher elevations where it is cooler. A 20 minute trailer from my home gains me 3000 foot of elevation and a 15* drop in temps.

I have spent parts of the last 3 summers out in SD and WY. So I know the kind of lack of humidity you have and so loved the area I will be back in Idaho this summer for a week on a 5 day horse pack trip. Across the Tetons into West Yellowstone.

I absolutely hate the Aug, Spt and early Oct weather here.

But I do manage to ride.

And actually you did add something to the conversation. I need to work within my horse's limits. I must learn what he capable of and how to read him.

Painted Horse
Jun. 11, 2010, 07:16 PM
Where are you starting out from for your trip. I ride a lot up in that area.

We have ridden up into Granite Basin from Tetonia area,
Looking East toward the Western side of Grand Teton
http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p259/Painted-Horse/2008/Granite%20Basin/100_0029.jpg


Looking North towards Yellowstone
http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p259/Painted-Horse/2008/Granite%20Basin/100_0054.jpg

The Hayden Valley of Yellowstone
http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p259/Painted-Horse/2008/Buffalo%20Ride/100_0115.jpg


The SW corner of the park just east of Ashton ID
http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p259/Painted-Horse/2009/Union%20Falls/Flowers.jpg

Camp on the Idaho/Wyoming state line
http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p259/Painted-Horse/2009/Union%20Falls/Trailer3.jpg

And in that country, we wear a lot of rain gear, Mountain thundershowers can pop up realy fast in Late July and August.
http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p259/Painted-Horse/2009/Union%20Falls/Yellowstone-017.jpg

Gestalt
Jun. 11, 2010, 10:30 PM
I went from an Arabian to a Friesian (don't ask me why, I'm still trying to figure that one out!) and it has been an uphill battle from day one getting the mare fit and building her work ethic!

I think we've done admirably well as she can now hunt first field and keep up with the master on all but the hottest and most humid of days, but it has taken vast amounts of work on both our parts.

My Arab was a dream in comparison! Boy do I miss him and would love to get another....but I digress.

Yes, the heavier, slower minded horse will fizzle in the hot humid weather and yes, they require much more work to get a fraction of the fitness you would see out of a lighter, hotter breed.

Stinks, but them's the brakes. :D

omg, from an Arab to all that hair! I, too, wonder. :winkgrin:

Cartfall
Jun. 12, 2010, 06:42 PM
Took Smokey out today to meet a group of riders for a slow ride and picnic afterwards.

There were maybe a dozen riders, but broken up to groups of 2 or 3 for the most part.

Left out at 8:30, started with a trio of Arabians and one paso. The Arabian riders started at a walk, then decided they wanted to speed up with some trotting. I dropped back with the gal on the Paso and we walked mostly, some gaiting, not real fast.

She turned for home, and I went with a couple of Arabian riders, we walked mostly, then they wanted to trot more, so I again turned Smokey down a trail and we went another way walking the entire way.

It was humid but not near as what we rode last weekend. I have spoken to a lot of riders and many of them said last weekend was so over the top with humidity even their very in condition horses were blowing.

Results are in-- Smokey did just fine today, we did about 7-8 miles in 2.5 hours (plus or minus) and he was NOT blowing or seemingly overheated.

He never once asked to stop (other than once to turn back with the second group of Arabian riders) was not blowing when we got into camp.

So perhaps I have been a bit overly concerned about his fitness for what I am asking him to do. I do need to continue to watch him in the hot days and really pay attention to what he is saying to me. And stay at home on those bad bad humidity days. :yes:

Better to have been concerned and now know what he is and not able to do. Not writing him off in any manner, just need to continue what I am doing and listen to him.

Just FYI --- it is 96 outside my door right now!!! Granted we were back in well before it got THAT hot!!!


Post to Painted Horse---does Belcher Canyon, Dunanda Falls, Boundary Creek, 3 Rivers Hot Pot ring any bells? Beautiful photos by the way!!! And thanks for the rain forecast, we were told to bring everything in waterproof bags and even waterproof our boots--something we never do here even in the state of Liquid Sunshine!!!

Huntertwo
Jun. 12, 2010, 08:01 PM
It was 43* this morning when I got up and our high today will be 66*. And Utah typically has almost no humidity. I just don't have a problem cooling out my horses most of the time. I doubt I could add anything informative to your question.

So you can gloat about wonderful riding temps in January while I'm buried in snow, and I get to boast about wonderful summer temps while you swelter in the heat.



I would much rather ride in the winter than the crappy humid summers we have here in CT.

Couldn't imagine trying to ride from VA and down in the summer... ack!:dead:

Huntertwo
Jun. 12, 2010, 08:04 PM
Where are you starting out from for your trip. I ride a lot up in that area.

We have ridden up into Granite Basin from Tetonia area,
Looking East toward the Western side of Grand Teton
http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p259/Painted-Horse/2008/Granite%20Basin/100_0029.jpg


Looking North towards Yellowstone
http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p259/Painted-Horse/2008/Granite%20Basin/100_0054.jpg

The Hayden Valley of Yellowstone
http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p259/Painted-Horse/2008/Buffalo%20Ride/100_0115.jpg


The SW corner of the park just east of Ashton ID
http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p259/Painted-Horse/2009/Union%20Falls/Flowers.jpg

Camp on the Idaho/Wyoming state line
http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p259/Painted-Horse/2009/Union%20Falls/Trailer3.jpg

And in that country, we wear a lot of rain gear, Mountain thundershowers can pop up realy fast in Late July and August.
http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p259/Painted-Horse/2009/Union%20Falls/Yellowstone-017.jpg

Beautiful pictures!!! I especially love the ones from Yellowstone..simply gorgeous.:yes: