I'm trying to build my horse's back muscles up with longeing before we get a new saddle that fits his shark fin err i mean withers He's a big boned 21yo 17.2h Hanoverian that I've had for 13 years. What type of aid is going to work best for building back/topline on a well schooled, been there, done that horse? Side reins, Vienna reins, Lauffer reins or a neck stretcher, etc used with a surcingle on the longe?
Because of his size any links (or brands) to oversize or draft aids will be greatly appreciated!
I'd also like to ad that I'm and experienced horse person and can properly exercise a horse on a longe line, safely.
On a 21 year old horse? Has he been sick and lost condition or something?
Otherwise, if he has always been like this? None of the above and let him be as he is and has been for 21 years.
I just don't think you want to drastically try to change his musculature which will effect his way of going at this point in his life. You might make him pretty uncomfortable and is that what he deserves after 13 years in your service???
Yeah you could use these things that force a (false) frame to force him to use himself differently then he has for all these years. Question is should you?
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
He's been ridden bareback for the last 2 years because i couldn't afford a semi custom saddle while being a full time college student. He has lost some muscle as it's not physically possible, as a rider, to correctly work a horse with his build without a saddle for more than 20 min. a few days a week (think pain, bruising and bleeding)
A well respected vet was out 6/26 to evaluate him for the purpose of bringing him back into full time work. He was the one who suggest I try to build his back up a bit before i send wither tracing out so he doesn't out grow a saddle right away. Other than that suggestion he gave me a green light.
He's well bred, IS SOUND, and has had top care while I have owned him. He want's to work, enjoys it, and there is no reason why he can't. He just jumped out of his paddock and cleared the fence the other day for no reason other than he was bored from having 5 days off due to the heat.
Well used lounging aids will not force a frame if used properly. All I'm looking for is the better aid that will make him use himself more than just being on a lounge alone.
let me add before it comes up that he is NOT lounged on small circles! we use the entire ring usually without a lounge line.
He was retired from jumping 3-4 years ago, not for soundness issues but to keep him sound and useable longer.
We use the pessoa rig or long line him with side reins low and loose, good luck. Pictures? Before and after?Also, when we brought back a horse from an injury, we rode him at the walk up and down hills, we were amazed how well that worked too!
Last edited by Summit Springs Farm; Jul. 8, 2012 at 01:15 PM.
Reason: More info
I would stick to sidereins or Vienna reins depending on his confirmation and his concept of contact.
Any time the horse is wearing tack for lunging, you must also use an appropriate lunge line and correct whip. I also recommend well fitted leather gloves. These are lunging 101 as free lunging with tack puts the horse in danger
I have to agree that, at age 21...I don't know how much you're going to physically change him, or that you should even try. Lets face it, anything with muscle will develope some type of atrophy with age. There are some exceptions, like abnormal muscle wasting due to EPSM. Otherwise, he's experiencing the normal process of aging, and at 21, he's an old man and the deterioration of his topline is, well, NORMAL. My point is that I really don't think you're going to change him enough, or that you should even attempt to change him enough to the point that he's going to need a completely different saddle from now until then. I don't think its fair to bring a 21 yo horse back into full work after being in semi retirement, with plans to completely re-vise his musculature to the point of needing a different saddle. I think you're going to find yourself in a losing battle of trying to compete with time and age. Fit him for a saddle and just enjoy him as he is. Let him enjoy being an old man, who has served you well for over a decade.
I agree with others about lunging a 21 year old horse. I have a 20 year old Dutch and I would not do that to him. The stress on his joints from the circles would probably sore him up. My 20 year old still jumps and competes at lower levels and his program is mostly trotting in a long low round frame going forward. His canter work is alot of canter/trot transitions.
His topline looks pretty good. You have to feed older horses alot of protein to keep their top lines.
Is your horse getting a senior feed?
21 is just a number, if the horse is healthy and ok to do some lunging on large circles I think having him FIT is more important than letting him retire.
Although saying that, you are likely not going to see results for a very long time. Might be worth getting the saddle done, and use appropriate pads. Long hacks in a forest, up and down hills is far better than lunging for working the back.
The back is usually the last thing to develop and gain muscle mass (especially behind the withers, sometimes the older guys just cant build muscle there), so you may be waiting 3-4 years before seeing any difference.
I would also recommend a high fat feed, and if your horse can handle it, a reasonable amount of protein to help with muscle building.
You can also do in-hand work to build the topline and strengthen the hindend. Check out "straightness training" with Marijke de Jong. Great program, great training based on classical and academic dressage, mainly Steinbrect. In hand work I think is better than longeing and personally am not a fan of side reins. Best of luck!
I agree with the other wise posters who have suggested that you buy a saddle that fits now, use pads if necessary, and then begin to bring him into fitness slowly and gently. There are no shortcuts that will not cause him stress and extreme discomfort, and that is just not fair.
Assuming you know how to use your legs and hands correctly... When you ride, begin by working him long and low, engaging his hindquarters at the walk and then the trot, asking him to flow forward and down into the bit. Your first priority should be getting him working with rhythm, and loose and supple relaxation, moving into a connection with the bit and your hands. This might take you a year, of softening, suppling and building elasticity, depending on how often you ride. As he gains strength and suppleness, you can ask for more connection and impulsion. Take it slow, enjoy your horse and the process. It's the journey, not the destination.
Well used lounging aids will not force a frame if used properly...
... we use the entire ring usually without a lounge line.
Well, PROPERLY would be with a lunge line not chasing him around loose with his head tied to something and, with some of these, a strap around his butt to bump his hind up under himself. And you have no way at all to control him or get him extricated if he gets a leg over a strap or otherwise entangled in the rig. With no line you are powerless to stop him should he get worried and hit the bridle and rest of the rig hard going forward. That sometimes happens and they CAN flip over or go down on their sides, BTDT and with a line.One reason I really don't like anything more elaborate then simple, properly adjusted side reins...and I would not do even that on an old horse.
There is a difference between returning him to work and changing the way he is built to develop muscle he has not used in years, or ever.
I didn't hint at him not being sound. Have had several old horses still showing and the LAST thing I would want to do with them is put them in a rig to change their musculature in their 20s. I rode mine to keep them supple and fit, no lunging at all.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.