My boy is six and we are competing novice level right now. He is very fit and very quiet and calm, when we are done a 45 minute flat or jumping lesson he is not breathing heavy at all, but I do notice his energy level decreases pretty quickly. I ride 5-6 times a week and do have. Day for set work, jumping, flat and a hack I the field. I notice towards the end of a lesson I have to do anything in my power to not pump my body at him to keep him going. At shows he is a bit more up, but not in a bad way in a " I know I am here to perform" kinda way, very manageable. I was wondering if anyone has a horse like this and if so have they tried any supplements and had success?
I would start with a check up including blood work if you haven't already.
What is his breeding? Some breeds and types can have energy and muscle issues on certain diets, so it may be as simple as tweaking what he eats.
Otherwise, I have a horse in my care who sounds quite similar. Plenty fit enough, but sometimes seems to just putter out a bit. After doing blood work and being sure he felt good otherwise, the vet had me put him on Red Cell (which totally made me go as I've never been a fan). It has helped. We also feed him half a pound of super high octane Grand Prix Granola about an hour before he works...a little bit like carbo loading Both have helped him keep going, particularly the Red Cell (the Granola can be hit or miss, as sometimes I don't know WHEN he's getting ridden until I walk in the barn and find him tacked up in the cross ties ).
But start with a going over with the vet, first, if you haven't already.
What are you feeding him? When I changed my mares feed in preparation for conditioning for our first LD, her energy level changed dramatically. In her case we added Omelene and fat (in the form of oil). It made a difference within a week.
I notice towards the end of a lesson I have to do anything in my power to not pump my body at him to keep him going.
Are you sure he's not just being lazy? What happens when you put your leg on (regardless of how long you've been riding)--does he promptly answer with a "yes ma'am!" and smartly go forward, or does he roll his eyes and sigh like a grumpy adolescent?
Yes it makes sense to make sure they're not ailing, but sometimes horses have a way of deciding that their union contract is being violated and that they are done for the day before we are done working. A little lesson in LEG MEANS GO can't possibly hurt and may shed some light.
Definitely good you are going to get some blood work done and are reviewing his feed.
My horse was a bit that way last year (but never in a way that made you think it was time to call the vet and he did get in shape nicely but it took ages) and it turns out he has horsey chronic fatigue syndrome or a chronic low white blood cell count (neutropenia). A variety of things happened making him much worse this winter and we ended up running blood work and a bone marrow biopsy to confirm. Normally it's virus induced. My vet thought it was often undiagnosed and that horses coming through competition programs would just being written off as being lazy or difficult to condition. There are commercial immune system boosters and also interferon and possibly anabolic steroids are options. I opted for aloe vera juice which was sited in a rather interesting paper from the mid-1990's. So far my guy seems to have boundless energy and we get the first post-treatment blood results back tomorrow!
I'm baffled at how this is a medical problem! If a horse is unresponsive to "woah" do you give it a tranquilizer?
hehehe....I agree. I would be trying a round with a well timed whip first, maybe. I mean, I'm not riding the horse, but can usually tell the difference between "lazy and behind my leg" and "not feeling it." Maybe train first, then address feeding.
And I STILL say that if anyone ever feels there horse isn't right and not just needing a little remedial "leg means go", THE VET is the first stop. Not the feed store. The changes I made to the horse I talk about earlier in the thread were made AFTER his training was addressed and AFTER we ran bloodwork and did a good going over.
When you're in high fitness, you can run a couple of miles and not be breathing hard, slathered in sweat, or bending over with stitches in your side, but by mile two or three the pep has probably left your step. He's in good shape, but it sounds like he's just wilting as a hard workout progresses. Maybe try introducing some real conditioning rides into his schedule. There's lot of great articles on how to start a horse on a conditioning program. I think you'll notice his stamina increase within a few weeks.
It CAN be a medical problem. My older horse suffered from an extreme drop in red blood cells, especially in the summer (discovered through CBC just because I'd never done one). He was always tough to condition, but he would take FOREVER to recover, run out of energy very quickly, even when fit, and just start to drag, but otherwise, visibly healthy. With my vet's recommendation, I put him on SmartVites and we redid the CBC about 3 months later, and he was back up to normal levels and feeling much more normal.