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View Full Version : Keeping my horse fit while unable to ride.



Bugs-n-Frodo
Jul. 21, 2011, 01:39 PM
I had to move my horse to another barn for financial reasons. He was working 2nd level and doing quite well before we moved but now all of the sudden, I can't ride. I am not sure how long I won't be able to ride as the new place has no ring. It is owned by my friend and she wants to put a ring in but we are not sure how long it will take. So, now I am completely bummed because we have had to stop working. The property is in a neighborhood, no access to trails and there is DEEP sand all around the property, including in the area where the ring will go. We were doing so well in our training but now, since we can't continue, I am worried about having to start all over again when I can ride again. I am forced to stay where we are because of money. She is allowing me to stay there for very little $$ while I get back on my feet. I am grateful but depressed at the same time since we were doing so well. Is there ANYTHING I can do to keep the two of us relatively fit in the meantime? I am crushed. I am grateful that I can keep my horse, though, don't get me wrong. Any suggestions would be great, I am at a loss. I do not want to ride in the deep, soft sand, too many dangers.


Sorry to sound so... pitiful, that is certainly not my intent. Just looking for ideas. TIA!

Velvet
Jul. 21, 2011, 01:46 PM
No real ring? Any room to setup a temporary round pen? You can work in one.

I have a friend who had only a round pen and some rock strewn paths through trees. It made for interesting work! I'd hop on and do a bit of work in the round pen (and work a square in the middle to the horse working some straight lines and corners). Then I'd go out on the paths and (ducking branches) do a bit of lengthening and shortening. Really doesn't keep the horse ready to compete or anything, but it does keep them working and muscled up. You just need to find small spots to be able to work without potential injury to the horse. You have to get creative!

I used to have to hand shovel the sand in the round pen to get it at the right depth. Talk about a work out! LOL But it at least created a place to work and keep the horse going.

The only other alternative is trailering out to ride when possible. Go to a nearby farm, pay a small fee, and then work your horse to remind them of the pieces they need to put together for your tests.

I also once boarded my old horse at a place that had a rough oval in grass. It was the only really level spot and the inside would turn to mush in the rain so we stayed on the oval the previous owners had created. I think they made it out of old bedding from the stalls. It worked okay. My guy was coming back from being lame and I'd just make little corners once in a while on the short sides and then drift back to the track.

You just need to think outside the box. :yes:

Big_Grey_hunter
Jul. 21, 2011, 01:47 PM
Can you ride in the pasture? You have my sympathy :(

Bugs-n-Frodo
Jul. 21, 2011, 01:57 PM
Sadly we live in the desert, there is no such thing as pasture here, it is all sand. We do have a very rocky, short driveway but since I am about to pull my horses shoes I am worried that he will get stone bruises. Horse keeping in the desert is a whole different ball game. I came from Maryland, this same small farm in Maryland would have had grass, which, if not slippery, I am fine working on. This place is literally on a sand dune... it is called Bermuda Dunes, and they are not lying about the DUNES part.

Petstorejunkie
Jul. 21, 2011, 02:15 PM
I'm not understanding why a lack of arena means you can't ride?
Is the footing dangerous, or do you have a Chicken Little dressage horse that sucks his thumb inside the letters?
If the latter, start with lunging and in hand in the area and after a few weeks, get on with your big girl panties and ride forward.
If the former, well, then where is your horse getting turnout?

candyappy
Jul. 21, 2011, 02:24 PM
^^^

I kind of agree With the above . Why can you not ride in the turnout area?? It may not be groomed like an arena but if it can be a turnout, it can be ridden in too.

Bugs-n-Frodo
Jul. 21, 2011, 02:35 PM
He's not getting turned out, he's getting hand walked, aside from that, there is very little turnout here in the desert at ANY farm. The farm is in a neighborhood, there are no trails just peoples' fence off driveways and such. The rest of the place is nothing but DEEP sand. There are two other horse farms in the neighborhood, one is strictly a rescue, they have no riding ring and the other is a nice facility owned by a dressage person who is a snow bird, she is gone for the summer. I am trying to get a hold of her but have had no luck as of yet. My friend's place was just set up and her plan is to use the ring area as turnout too which is what we have done at the previous farm. I did get on him the other day and rode around the farm to try and find AT LEAST a 20 meter place to ride but there is nothing safe, it is all deep sand. Admittedly my friend did not truly think this through and is now scrambling but I am not here to bash her, she is doing the best she can. The horses are happy, calm and well cared for and they have LARGE paddocks, not small 12x12 stalls. I am just looking for something in the meanwhile to keep us fit without risking injury.

Bugs-n-Frodo
Jul. 21, 2011, 02:41 PM
BTW, while I think the statements: "...or do you have a Chicken Little dressage horse that sucks his thumb inside the letters?
If the latter, start with lunging and in hand in the area and after a few weeks, get on with your big girl panties and ride forward." are a little harsh, I will tell you this, I have never been the kind of rider to suck back and I also am not one to longe the crap out of my horse, I get on, I ride, and I ride through whatever I have to ride through to get it done. I have to admit, I resent these comments and feel as though they are unnecessary.

Velvet
Jul. 21, 2011, 02:52 PM
I'm not understanding why a lack of arena means you can't ride?
Is the footing dangerous, or do you have a Chicken Little dressage horse that sucks his thumb inside the letters?
If the latter, start with lunging and in hand in the area and after a few weeks, get on with your big girl panties and ride forward.
If the former, well, then where is your horse getting turnout?

You know, the comment about a chicken little horse and having a rider put on "big girl panties" is really insulting. Your reply is insinuating that the rider or the horse (or both) are probably afraid. Your first comment asking about dangerous footing should have been the sole question in your comment before the more derogatory names were used. :no:

I think she's asking a legitimate question and it seems has legitimate concerns about her horse's welfare.

Petstorejunkie
Jul. 21, 2011, 03:08 PM
It wasn't meant to be rude at all! I'm sorry if it came across that way. I've met horses that from the time they are backed at 3 have never been ridden outside of an arena and can be downright dangerous "outside the letters" I've also met people that have never ridden outside an arena in over 20 years... skilled riders who are still beginners "outside the letters"
so I thought it was a legitimate probable cause for what's going on. Keep in mind we do not know you, and the root cause will change the course of action suggested.

It has been clarified that the footing of the property is dangerous to work on since my post, so it's obviously not the case.

Petstorejunkie
Jul. 21, 2011, 03:11 PM
double post

minuspride
Jul. 21, 2011, 03:13 PM
If it's a neighborhood...it's sure to have streets...walk and trot through the neighborhood. You will be suprised how much you can do!
You may be able to find a wide shoulder somewhere and canter, but I wouldn't count on it.

Beentheredonethat
Jul. 21, 2011, 03:24 PM
Just a few ideas that may or may not work. Carefully start walking through
the deep sand. That's an amazing way to condition as long as it's slow and careful.

Also, like the above poster, walk through the streets or work in the paddock. You'd be amazed at what you can work on at the walk when you have no other choice (my straights for about 6 weeks.) You can work on collecting and extension and softness, turns on the forehand and haunches, halts and forward or back, and even piaffe, in hand or in the saddle. I've been working a lot on piaffe to get some sweat equity in without doing anything but "walk."

netg
Jul. 21, 2011, 03:35 PM
Just a few ideas that may or may not work. Carefully start walking through
the deep sand. That's an amazing way to condition as long as it's slow and careful.


Agreed with the above. There's no reason a horse can't go in deep sand. If the horse is used to typical dressage arena footing you have to build up to it, but work in deep footing with gradual buildup starting with a lot of walking only can really help improve their tendons in the long term. I would talk to your vet about your horse and the specific footing situation to come up with a plan, but wouldn't let deep footing stop me from riding. Taking time on the roads as suggested as well is also a good idea -it balances things out for your horse, and helps add insurance to your horse's future soundness. Again, I'd try to make a plan with a vet to know what's best for your situation, but I've been around horse after horse who goes out in deep sand and stays perfectly sound even if pasterns are too long and too sloped. They just all build up to it first.

Why can't you ride in the paddocks?

Sister7
Jul. 21, 2011, 03:40 PM
If there is nothing safe then just give him some time off. It sounds like you probably don't want any expensive vet bills right now anyways so you should be avoiding risks. You can focus a lot on your own fitness instead.

2DogsFarm
Jul. 21, 2011, 03:42 PM
B&F - first take a deep breath, it's not as bad as it seems now.
#1-you still have your horse
#2-friend is working on adding a rideable arena

OK.
IIWM, this is what I'd do:
-Ask around to find out where others in the neighborhood are riding.
-Find a barn with a usable arena and see if they will let you trailer in for a small ring fee < I know you mentioned finances are a problem, but if you can manage once a week that is better than nothing, right?
-if all else fails then walking your horse on the sand is exercise, just like walking barefoot on a beach is good for you. Maybe some ground-driving if both of you are comfortable doing that.
-see above: if that isn't an option, then handwalk for pleasure - yours & his. No? Then let horse have some downtime while you work things out.

Honestly, he will not forget what he knows and you can do a tuneup when things settle & you have a place to ride.

Hope the situation improves for you A.S.A.P!

Spectrum
Jul. 21, 2011, 04:05 PM
I would definitely work in the sand, but take it very slooooowly.

Walk on long rein. Work up to jogging. Add some shoulder-fore in walk or trot.

When I was growing up we used to GALLOP our horses up and down gigantic sand piles near the farm that were leftover from an old gravel pit. Picture galloping up and down slopes akin to "The Man From Snowy River." The sand was heavy and well above fetlock depth. We would do this for an hour once a week, in addition to our dressage and jumping training.

There was an entire horde of us ballsy kids who did this on horses and ponies of varying breeds and fitness levels, and never did a single horse so much as pull a muscle.

Granted, we were probably very lucky, and our horses were incredibly fit from playing cross-country games of "Cowboys and Indians," but still....

A properly conditioned horse who is eased into the work should have absolutely no problems doing lower level dressage on deep sand. I wouldn't be doing flying changes or pirouettes (or other movements where the horse is balancing for extended periods on one-two legs) on footing like that, but if you slowly work up to it, there is no reason not to work on strength building, shoulder-in, walk-canter trans, etc. And I know *plenty* of people who take their very expensive dressage horses on the occasional beach ride in deep sand or the ocean.

If nothing else, you can absolutely slog your horse around at the walk through the deep sand and eventually throw some jog steps in. When you get to "regular" footing again your horse is going to feel like a rocket because the work will be so easy for him after all that strength-building sand work.

Spectrum.

Bugs-n-Frodo
Jul. 21, 2011, 04:18 PM
Thanks for all of the suggestions guys. I really appreciate it. I will check out the neighborhood roads when I go later today and as far as the deep sand, I will talk to my vet and my farrier to get their thoughts. My farrier will be out today because my goober tossed a shoe.

TheHorseProblem
Jul. 21, 2011, 06:18 PM
If there is nothing safe then just give him some time off. It sounds like you probably don't want any expensive vet bills right now anyways so you should be avoiding risks. You can focus a lot on your own fitness instead.

I agree.

Also, I used to ride in Yucca Valley where there was also no arena, but the unpaved roads were fantastic. I mean, I wouldn't go galloping around on them, but for walk/trot they were fine. Do you have unpaved roads where you are?

DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"
Jul. 21, 2011, 06:29 PM
It is amazing what you can do with groundwork. I tore my MCL and have been unable to ride for several months, and I was frantic to keep my horse going after he had an injury last November, and in between our horrific weather. We have now become far more accomplished with our long reining. It helps that I have a fabulous and accomplished trainer.

You do need someone with expertise if you have never done it, but I'd be happy to send my lesson notes (under saddle plus ground work intermixed) - almost 150 pages. Email me at wendin@specialhorses.org.

happyhorsegirl
Jul. 21, 2011, 11:30 PM
can you ride on the roads?

Bugs-n-Frodo
Jul. 22, 2011, 12:33 AM
Our roads are paved. Thanks to you guys though, I am trying to think outside the box. You guys have given me some great ideas and I am hoping that something works. I am extremely motivated and driven when it comes to my horse and our dressage. Something has to work out because my dreams are big and my drive is bigger. Everyday I get on my horse and I say, "I can do this and I can do this well." I plan on keeping it up, working hard and over-coming my obstacles. My horse is a gem and I am fortunate that he humors me the way he does. He's a rock star and I am so lucky to have him. I could not ask for a better soul in a horse, that he got from his dam.

I love this board, even though there is drama now and then, I can ALWAYS count on the fact that someone has been there, and has experienced what I am going through. What an invaluable resource!

sdlbredfan
Jul. 22, 2011, 12:41 AM
Lease your horse out to someone who can keep him in work until you can. That would ease your financial burden, and keep the critter fit. Good luck, and keep us posted, am sure we all empathize with your situation.

Petstorejunkie
Jul. 22, 2011, 01:29 PM
I wouldn't let paved roads stop you from working. While it would be WAY more dangerous if something were to happen to either of you, you can put easyboots on overtop shoes (if your horse needs shoes) and have sneaker traction on the asphalt.

Bugs-n-Frodo
Jul. 22, 2011, 01:41 PM
Petstorejunkie, I am actually considering pulling his shoes, he has fronts only. I have not decided yet. I prefer barefoot but when we are working, especially in sand, we have to keep at least front shoes on him because the sand just wears down his feet. Either way though, I will look into the boots, better to have them around anyway, just in case.

Petstorejunkie
Jul. 22, 2011, 02:20 PM
if you keep his shoes, go with easyboot epics.
if you go bare, renegades all the way. They are fantastic!

inca
Jul. 23, 2011, 02:59 PM
I agree that you can do a LOT at the walk on the neighborhood roads. Leg yield, shoulder in, haunches in. And as you get comfortable, add in some trot.

Also, keep trying to get in touch with the person in the neighborhood with the dressage place. I have a ring at my place and would LOVE to have some company when I ride a few times a week. So, maybe that person will feel the same way.

Bugs-n-Frodo
Jul. 23, 2011, 10:11 PM
Thank you guys. I have done a little light on the shoulder of the road. I can tell you, without a doubt, that he is not a fan of mailboxes. :lol: He's been good but the drivers on the road are A$$es. I have had a few honks and several who have actually sped up when they passed us. Thanks! :mad: What is wrong with people?

inca
Jul. 23, 2011, 10:41 PM
I was hoping your roads were neighborhood roads where people might be sensible. And yes, my horses have always thought mailboxes are horse eating monsters. They do get over it though - maybe get off and lead him up to one. Touch it and let him sniff it so he knows he won't die. :-)

Honestly, I know how frustrating it is not to be able to ride. But, he will come back quickly even if you have to give him several months off or if you have to ride without doing much real work.

I have dealt with more than my share of horse injuries where my horses have had months off. It generally doesn't take long to get back to where you were.

If you can't ride, just spend time grooming, hand walking, etc. He won't mind a little vacation.

J-Lu
Jul. 23, 2011, 10:53 PM
Where exactly are you?

I would not ride on roads, personally. Too hard on your horse's joints, plus traffic. I would contact neighborhood people to see if I could ride on their property or in their own ring. Many people are open to this. Consider moving to another facility. Very many private facilities might be able to work something out with you. But you have to be proactive here.

The Geek brought up long-lining...excellent for your situation.

Bugs-n-Frodo
Jul. 23, 2011, 11:05 PM
I am riding on the sandy shoulder, and when I say ride, I mean LIGHTLY. Trust me, when it comes to this horse, I am super duper careful. I am lucky to have him.

ETA: :lol: I did walk him up to the mailboxes, he sniffed and we moved on, to the next one, that looked nothing like the last one, and we sniffed, then off to the next... rinse repeat. Seriously, they are ALL different here. LOL He'll get over it, but it is funny in the meantime. Oh, and he was not so thrilled about lines on the road either. :lol: Goober! It is not the first time he has seen them, but his reaction is hilarious!

J-Lu
Jul. 23, 2011, 11:07 PM
I am riding on the sandy shoulder, and when I say ride, I mean LIGHTLY. Trust me, when it comes to this horse, I am super duper careful. I am lucky to have him.

What's the "shake and bake state"? Where are you? Feel free to PM me.

Thanks!

Bugs-n-Frodo
Jul. 23, 2011, 11:21 PM
We live in Southern California. I live in Palm Springs, he lives on Bermuda Dunes which is in the same valley, about 20 minutes east of me.