View Full Version : Conditioning the older horse...??

Jan. 14, 2011, 02:48 PM

Jan. 14, 2011, 03:05 PM
I am no expert, but I would say it is possible, I would just take it slower. 12 is really not old yet. I would do mostly walk/trot for a good while, cantering takes a lot more energy than trotting. Good luck!

Jan. 14, 2011, 03:46 PM
It is not her age- it is the fact that she "has no muscle".

It isn't clear form your post if she was "eventing fit" (at the level you want to compete) or not.

If she has been fit before, you just need to make sure you do a lot of LSD work (long walks and trots) before you you start your speed work (heart and lungs). But she SHOULD come back pretty easily.

If she has NEVER been eventing fit before, there are some people who say you will never get them fully "wind fit". It shouldn't matter if you are competing at Training and below, but you may need to allocate more time for the speed work befoer you compete.

If you start now, with walk and trot work, she should be more than fit enough for BN by April.

Jan. 14, 2011, 04:22 PM
I thought you were getting that young horse?

Jan. 14, 2011, 04:48 PM
Shouldn't be a problem at all. Just use LSD, stick to walks at first, pay attention to her body and build from there. Walking can get you a looooong way.

Jan. 14, 2011, 04:56 PM
Yes, she has been "eventing fit" just not in the past two years..
The fact that she has "ever" been evenitng it will definitely help.

Jan. 14, 2011, 05:30 PM
slow and steady. Lots of long hacks, walking up the hills long and low will help build strengthen her hind end (esp. stifles) and build her up slowly both her stamina and muscles. Then long trots and just gradually increasing the intensity of everything! Lots of dressage work (building up of course) too gets them fit pretty thoroughly. Especially if your goal is to do BN it's not like she's going to need the stamina to gallop for 10 minutes, but the more you condition her slowly and correctly the easier her job will be! Just take it easy with her, or any aged horse that has no muscle! I wouldn't think at 12 you would have too big of an issue, especially if she was eventing fit at one point.
Goodl luck!

Jan. 14, 2011, 06:23 PM
Older horses are usually easier to get fit (cardio wise) if they have had a past career that required it. A 15 year old that used to event will be easier to get fit again than a 5 year old of similar type and no experience starting from scratch. This is why OTTBs are so easy to get fit for life, even over full TBs that never went to the track. They sort of keep those fitness miles and snap back easier than those with no base to draw from.

But I agree the muscle will be what takes longer. I suggest lots and lots of walking, up and down hills especially. When building her up in dressage remember she has no muscle and dont expect her to be able to improve as fast as fitter horses. But if you are hacking out along with arena work she shouldnt take too long to build back up if she is on a good diet. Just take it easy and dont try to blast her with a million muscle building exercises.

Jan. 14, 2011, 06:34 PM
I'm confused. OP, how many horses have you purchased this month? I feel like I've read multiple threads about you vetting or buying a bunch of different young horses.
Did you actually purchase this horse, or is this another one you are looking at? If you did buy her, why did you go from vetting a bunch of babies to buying a 12-year-old?

Jan. 14, 2011, 07:01 PM
As previously stated, if she has no muscle now, start with lots and lots and lots of walking. If you have some hills, you can incorporate them in. If you don't you can start by putting down ground poles (just two at first, then adding them).

People overlook walking as a way to leg up their horses but it really works and it doesn't put any stress on their joints.

You can start doing some short trot sets integrated into long walks.

Gradually, start increasing the length of the trots. Start with a minute at a time. Concentrate on making good, clean transitions that help her build strength from behind (you want that push).

Keep your trots very rhythmical and don't worry too much about where her head is at first; it's more important to focus on getting her 1) straight and 2) forward but without rushing.

Other good things to do with an older horse (and 12 isn't particularly old), is some lateral work to help her build strength and increase flexibility. I like to do a warm up that incorporates some leg yielding, some shoulder in, some haunches in, etc. You can do these at a walk but make sure you give her breaks. If she's been sitting in a field for 2 years she won't have the strength to carry herself properly for more than a few minutes at a time.

Glad you found a horse. Good luck!

pony grandma
Jan. 14, 2011, 09:43 PM
You have to feed that muscle also.

Get her on a good ration balancer or supplement with the essential amino acids and the protein that she needs for muscle development.

The walk, b/c it is a four beat gait, uses all of the body parts for it's movement. Long strided relaxed walks to start.

Jan. 15, 2011, 09:17 AM
Do you have any recommendations as far as feed/supplements go? Has anyone ever used Weight Builder? I'm thinking about doing beet pulp and bran mash as well.

You don't really need the weight builder (IMHO). I use Purina Enrich 32 (ration balancer) and I feed beet pulp & alfalfa pellets. Don't bother with a wheat bran mash. Wheat Bran has a skewed calcium/phosphorous balance and won't add anything to your regime. If you want to add some extra fat, you can add oil (which is a bit difficult in the winter if it freezes), Rice Bran (which is high in fat and is generally sold already stabilized) or one of the fat supplements such as Cool Calories.

I no longer feed a concentrate but when I did, I fed Purina Ultium which is high in fat, low in starch and contains beet pulp.

pony grandma
Jan. 15, 2011, 12:08 PM
I use this http://www.prognutrition.com/paultimate.html b/c I felt confused using the ration balancers when we have a mixture of hays that my horses are getting (they have free access grass round bales all day and alfalfa flakes a.m./p.m) Plus I do 2x/day hot soaked beet pulp and alfalfa cubes w/ oats on top. I have young 2 TB/WB crosses that have had good steady growth with this.

I use the ration balancer when they are on the grass pastures in the summer. They not only look healthy, they act healthy ;).