How do you guys adjust training when your horses have a growth spurt? Do you treat a growth spurt different when they're not super young (say, 5 or 6 year olds with growth spurts as opposed to 3 year olds)?
My mare's rear end just popped up an inch or so in honor of her 6th birthday, and although she's been doing really well, I can also tell she's struggling with the sudden downhillness, especially at the canter. I'm just curious to hear what other people do when their horses are in growth spurts.
Hopefully this is not a stupid question! Thank you!
Going through this right now I keep it light during the growth spurt: the Boy gets tired and cranky and "wonky", so we work on basics like straightness, forwardness, and obedience. Some days I'll choose to work on non-riding things that translate to good under-saddle behaviour -- like being obedient and calm during a bath (which he detests). In the past six weeks the Boy went from croup high to massively wither high, and he just turned 5. The vet says he thinks we still have another two inches or so to go (not counting muscle height) and the Boy just hit 17hh. So we've got a long growth-spurt road ahead of us too
I wish I would have had the experience when I got my then 5 yo mare. She was a royal PIA and now at 8 seems to have stopped growing and is a complete willing sweetheart. She was pretty malnourished when I got her and stopped growing last summer which coincides with the attitude adjustment.
Take it easy during the growth spurt - lots of walking trail rides and things the horse doesn't struggle with or get upset about (which will depend based on the horse and how wonky he/she is at the time).
My mares balance was so off I just gave her a break and did basic stuff and trail riding. Didn't last long but she's such an amazing mare I saw no reason to make her do something when the balance issue wasn't her fault.
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Had one that just couldn't canter for a bit. First and only time bucked. So just let it be for a while. Pushing it just causes behavioral issues and isn't fair to the horse. Also would be careful because don't want to stress joints and ligarments during this time. A few months can make a huge difference. The first month is usually the worst and then can slowly add the more advanced work back in.
For lateral work, keep the angles shallow and don't drill. If horse struggles then stop and do something else. Test the canter but until the horse offers it easily, don't push it.
What Gimbalist said. My mare just turned 6 and she has never really been in consistent work until now. Cantering was and still can be a big issue. So, during a growth spurt I did not canter. I did not push her beyond her balance and capabilities for where she was in her growth stages. I know she is growing (always in a butt high way) when she starts giving out behind because her hind limb angles are straighter when her butt shoots up. Then when the withers catch up...wow. Had the best ride on her yesterday ever. In the wind and much colder weather than it has been. Rode through training 3 and she didn't put a foot wrong and even stayed balanced in the down transition from canter to trot on the diagonal. Trust your gut and don't let anyone tell you your horse is behind schedule for it's age. I had a TB/QH that was eventing at the Novice level when she was 4. Different horse, different build (shorter legs). My current 6 year old is dutch with extremely long legs. She just needed time to grow into them. Good Luck!!
"You can try to fix lazy, but you can't fix stupid."
My mare is so butt high right now it is physically uncomfortable to ride her, the saddle is tipped forward so much! She is so awkward she can't hardly canter. She has been growing like crazy since I bought her, been through a couple saddles already.
I'm going through this too. My boy just turned 5, and he had a huge growth spurt that started in late March (right before a show). I think he has finally leveled out, but I'd need to measure him to make sure. He was 17.1hh at the withers and almost 17.2hh at the butt, with long legs to boot!
I had the same feeling that Maude had, where his hind end was so disconnected from the front. He was compensating by throwing his head up to keep his balance. So I stuck to cantering a bit on the lunge in sliding side reins and just did walk/trot under saddle. I wanted him to be able to find his own balance without me influencing him. I finally attempted the canter under saddle in early May, just to see what I would get. It was better, but not quite there yet so it was back to more walk/trot under saddle. My boy has been off for the past 2 weeks because I was on vacation, so I'm interested to see how he does when I ride him tonight (or tomorrow if it rains tonight).