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Tell me what you do to keep your mid teens horses limber

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    Tell me what you do to keep your mid teens horses limber

    Posting this here because I'm attempting to turn myself into a dressage rider and my horse in to a dressage horse. He's 17, spent his riding career working cows (among other cowboy type things) and I got him 2 years ago. We fiddled for a while and 6 or so months ago i started getting more serious with lessons, we now haul out twice a week and are having a blast. He tries so hard.

    He has a hard time bending to the left. And sometimes after our lessons (next day) when I watch him in the field he just looks a little stiff. Not sure or lame, but reminds me of how I look and feel the day after a heavy round of squats.

    Other than building fitness, what do you do?

    He's on MSM, flax and turmeric with his balanced diet.

    I use liniment after a harder ride and each lesson.

    I'm going to start daily carrot stretches.

    #2
    Turnout, turnout, turnout. Motion is lotion for joints.

    Chiro and massage regularly.

    Comment

      Original Poster

      #3
      He lives out, so we've got that going for us.

      How frequent for regular bodywork do you think? Monthly? Swap chiro and massage each month?

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Pehsness View Post
        He lives out, so we've got that going for us.

        How frequent for regular bodywork do you think? Monthly? Swap chiro and massage each month?
        Really depends on the horse and if I am seeing any issues. Right now my horse is getting once every 2 weeks massage. Chiro is harder to find here so more quarterly? I would do it more often if I could get the Chiro to come out regularly!

        They should also be able to give you little exercises to help your horse's weak spots you can work on in between sessions.

        Comment


          #5
          The three most important things, IMO, are excellent farrier care, good footing and turnout. Other than than, I have a blood panel pulled to make sure nutritional needs are being met (I have to supplement vitamin e here) and my 20 year old still busts out the grand prix with the support of equine CBD. You cannot compete on CBD, but it has made a huge difference keeping my mare sound and comfortable. I tried it when I couldn't get her normal annual prostride injections (right fore, where she had a coffin bone fracture and surgery and right stifle, which is compensatory). The response is better than prostride for her issues, probably because the support is systemic.

          Another interesting thing about the CBD is that she eats up all her supplements in the morning at once. She used to nibble on breakfast throughout the day. I don't know if getting her supps all at once has made a difference, but the CBD has made her tummy better (or gives her munchies HAHA). I probably won't continue injecting her if I get the continued response from CBD. Incidentally, you have to tinker with the dose. Mine is a large warmblood and gets CBD (in the form of hemp pellets) both am and pm.

          She does better gp half passes than she did while we were competing them and never misses a tempi on the CBD.

          Comment


            #6
            If you haven't recently, schedule a wellness exam with a good sport horse vet. Have the vet watch you ride him and do some flexions. See if they find any trouble spots. Some horses need some help at that age, hock injections, Adequan, Legend, and others are doing just fine.

            We do chiro spring and fall for the young horses and lower level ones (unless they have an issue), and every month for the ones working hard. We ice after every workout.

            Comment


              #7
              Glucosamine can help if you can find the one that works for your horse. Mine went from 10-12 min walk warm up to. 5-6min when he was 16. It was an experiment to see if I saw a difference and I'd sort of forgotten about it when I started wondering why he felt ready to trot in half the usual time.

              If it's not too hot putting on a Back on Track sheet overnight after a lesson might be helpful.

              Mine get regular chiropractor visits - every 8 weeks or so. Often trouble bending stops after an adjustment. It's most often neck, but sometimes it's a rib. Now I can usually tell when riding if the bending difficulty is needing a chiro or not.

              Comment


                #8
                I am at a boarding barn that has several large animal vets as fellow boarders. Every one of them uses Adequan for their horses. It really can't do harm---and can definitely help! I have also started this protocol with my "pre-teen" mare. It's likely to help if your horse has any arthritic changes that are contributing to his stiffness. At 17, it's not at all uncommon for him to have some arthritis that could be causing the issue with bending the left.

                A good equine massage person is also beneficial---with someone who works on your horse often enough that they know what "normal" stiffness is for your horse. They can help you track how well your horse is developing (or struggling and getting sore) with the new work you are asking him to do.

                Comment

                  Original Poster

                  #9
                  Thanks for all the suggestions. Does anyone have experience with Cosequin? It's pretty expensive, but if it works...

                  I'd completely forgotten about glucosamine

                  Comment


                    #10
                    "A career working cows" can be really hard work! Stopping short, dragging cows, sharp turns, etc. can take it's toll. Did you get a baseline PPE when you got the horse to see what you're dealing with? Did he have soft tissue damage, arthritis, etc? If not, that might be a better starting place with data vs experimenting with supplements or other treatments that may or may not address his issues? While a PPE with xrays can be $$, the other treatments suggested above can add up fast. And again, you may not know for a while if it's even working or the right fix.
                    Savor those rides where you feel like a million bucks, because there will be those where you feel like a cheap date...

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Cosequin can work but I'd rather give a horse something like Adequan or Legend. Something you know goes into the horse.

                      You have to narrow down why he is stiff. Is he turned out 24/7? You mentioned he lived out, so I assume that is the case.

                      The next question is, stiff how..? Is he shod all around?

                      As much as I love 24/7 turnout, where I am, the ground is so hard and rocky that most horses who were barefoot in a stalling environment might need to be shod up for a while while they acclimate. All that extra movement wears down the toe and sometimes the sole, depending on climate and substrate - not uncommon here for a horse to need shoes if he lives outside. Our ground is ledge + rocky topsoil, which is quite harder on feet 24/7 than a dirt lot and stall bedding.

                      Got a video? I'd also second the vet come out for an exam, see what you're working with. Legend really helped one of my geriatrics who got a little bit slow once he hit 17 YOA. He'd raced for 8 years and 72 starts, so wasn't lightly used before he came to us.

                      AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

                      Comment

                        Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Lusoluv View Post
                        "A career working cows" can be really hard work! Stopping short, dragging cows, sharp turns, etc. can take it's toll. Did you get a baseline PPE when you got the horse to see what you're dealing with? Did he have soft tissue damage, arthritis, etc? If not, that might be a better starting place with data vs experimenting with supplements or other treatments that may or may not address his issues? While a PPE with xrays can be $$, the other treatments suggested above can add up fast. And again, you may not know for a while if it's even working or the right fix.
                        No question he was worked hard He was vetted (I had him on a free-lease before buying him) and had clean radiographs, no health issues and a bodyworker gave him a going-over. there's nothing "wrong" with him, I just want to do all I can to keep it that way. He ticks every horse box I could possibly have to tick, outside of being a bit too old. So I want to keep him as young as possible as long as possible.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          We've kept ours working and showing into their mid 20s by doing the aforementioned but also riding regularly just to keep them moving each day. For us that meant trail riding several days a week. There was no pounding or hard wear and tear on their joints, no drilling, just keeping them moving and limber. You can do so many dressage moves and exercises at the walk - SI, Traver, HP, etc. We watched their respiratory rates and kept the rides appropriate for their condition often being able to improve their conditioning gradually if they needed it. I have access to varied terrain which also was/has been very good for them.
                          Ranch of Last Resort

                          Comment

                            Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by beowulf View Post
                            Cosequin can work but I'd rather give a horse something like Adequan or Legend. Something you know goes into the horse.

                            You have to narrow down why he is stiff. Is he turned out 24/7? You mentioned he lived out, so I assume that is the case.

                            The next question is, stiff how..? Is he shod all around?

                            As much as I love 24/7 turnout, where I am, the ground is so hard and rocky that most horses who were barefoot in a stalling environment might need to be shod up for a while while they acclimate. All that extra movement wears down the toe and sometimes the sole, depending on climate and substrate - not uncommon here for a horse to need shoes if he lives outside. Our ground is ledge + rocky topsoil, which is quite harder on feet 24/7 than a dirt lot and stall bedding.

                            Got a video? I'd also second the vet come out for an exam, see what you're working with. Legend really helped one of my geriatrics who got a little bit slow once he hit 17 YOA. He'd raced for 8 years and 72 starts, so wasn't lightly used before he came to us.
                            He is out 24/7. He lives with a mini and has a stall in the barn that opens to the pasture. He sleeps in the stall at night (rubber mattted with deep bedding) by choice.

                            Pasture is pretty forgiving as far as footing goes. Just grass and soil, no rocks or gravel or even packed earth. He is barefoot and I have been tossing around the idea of shoes to see if it makes a difference, but since we're not working super hard I haven't gone there yet.

                            The stiffness probably isn't obvious to anyone but me, but I watch him like a hawk especially after a lesson. So sometimes he just doesn't stride out when walking across the pasture, occasionally when he's turning (in the pasture) he doesn't step up under himself, if that makes sense. Anyone who sees him says he looks fabulous, and he does - he's building a beautiful topline, is the picture of health but again, I watch him like a hawk.

                            I was reading about Adequan, and it's IM injections every 4 days? That makes me nervous.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I have an 18 yr old dressage horse; when he is worked, (3 days on, 1 day off) we start every ride with a minimum 10 minutes of walk, from stretching to more collected, lots of direction changes, lateral work of all types to loosen him up. One of his two off days is just a hack around a field and some woods. He gets periodic accupuncture treatments.

                              Comment


                                #16
                                Originally posted by Pehsness View Post

                                He is out 24/7. He lives with a mini and has a stall in the barn that opens to the pasture. He sleeps in the stall at night (rubber mattted with deep bedding) by choice.

                                Pasture is pretty forgiving as far as footing goes. Just grass and soil, no rocks or gravel or even packed earth. He is barefoot and I have been tossing around the idea of shoes to see if it makes a difference, but since we're not working super hard I haven't gone there yet.

                                The stiffness probably isn't obvious to anyone but me, but I watch him like a hawk especially after a lesson. So sometimes he just doesn't stride out when walking across the pasture, occasionally when he's turning (in the pasture) he doesn't step up under himself, if that makes sense. Anyone who sees him says he looks fabulous, and he does - he's building a beautiful topline, is the picture of health but again, I watch him like a hawk.

                                I was reading about Adequan, and it's IM injections every 4 days? That makes me nervous.
                                Got a video?

                                Is he a QH?

                                Is the stiffness only after rides? Have you ruled out PSSM+variants?

                                The recommended is every four days for seven treatments (a month), but I have known people who load with that and do routine 1 shots every month. Every vet will have a different suggestion.

                                If Adequan is out, there is also Pentosan, Legend, and Hytril.
                                AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by Pehsness View Post
                                  Posting this here because I'm attempting to turn myself into a dressage rider and my horse in to a dressage horse. He's 17, spent his riding career working cows (among other cowboy type things) and I got him 2 years ago. We fiddled for a while and 6 or so months ago i started getting more serious with lessons, we now haul out twice a week and are having a blast. He tries so hard.

                                  He has a hard time bending to the left. And sometimes after our lessons (next day) when I watch him in the field he just looks a little stiff. Not sure or lame, but reminds me of how I look and feel the day after a heavy round of squats.

                                  Other than building fitness, what do you do?

                                  He's on MSM, flax and turmeric with his balanced diet.

                                  I use liniment after a harder ride and each lesson.

                                  I'm going to start daily carrot stretches.
                                  If he was working cows but not doing dressage basic training it is quite likely he never overcame his natural one sidedness. If you are starting a colt or an OTTB they will always have a better and a worse side. Most horses have a natural bend one direction and find it hard to bend the other way. If he has trouble bending to the left it could mean he is tight and curved to the right.

                                  So you need to get back to basics with flexions and walk lateral work inhand and in saddle, getting him to stretch to the bit, and carrot stretches both ways. If he is otherwise sound and healthy but never did any arena work, there's no need to necessarily jump to the conclusion he needs injections because he is one sided.

                                  If he looks sore after you ride then dial back your schooling and do more schooling at the walk.

                                  ​​​​​​

                                  Comment

                                    Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by beowulf View Post

                                    Got a video?

                                    Is he a QH?

                                    Is the stiffness only after rides? Have you ruled out PSSM+variants?

                                    The recommended is every four days for seven treatments (a month), but I have known people who load with that and do routine 1 shots every month. Every vet will have a different suggestion.

                                    If Adequan is out, there is also Pentosan, Legend, and Hytril.
                                    No video, I've tried on the longe but that is surprisingly difficult. I've got a Pivo on my Xmas list

                                    he is a QH and I would say yes, it is only after lessons (they're longer/harder than what we do at home). I've not had any bloodwork done so not ruled out anything like PSSM. I did put him on magnesium in the spring and saw an improvement undersaddle (just softer overall).

                                    I think maybe I will start with the oral supplements. I know they're more money, but I would need the vet to do any kind of injections for a good long while (IM, I mean) until I worked up my nerve so maybe the cost would even out in the end. If there's change/no change, I can re-evaluate.

                                    Comment

                                      Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by Scribbler View Post

                                      If he was working cows but not doing dressage basic training it is quite likely he never overcame his natural one sidedness. If you are starting a colt or an OTTB they will always have a better and a worse side. Most horses have a natural bend one direction and find it hard to bend the other way. If he has trouble bending to the left it could mean he is tight and curved to the right.

                                      So you need to get back to basics with flexions and walk lateral work inhand and in saddle, getting him to stretch to the bit, and carrot stretches both ways. If he is otherwise sound and healthy but never did any arena work, there's no need to necessarily jump to the conclusion he needs injections because he is one sided.

                                      If he looks sore after you ride then dial back your schooling and do more schooling at the walk.

                                      ​​​​​​
                                      ah, thank you!! Why is it that the most obvious is the most elusive? This makes perfect sense. The poor guy didn't even know how to trot - we've worked long and hard at that Leg on meant lope.

                                      I'm going to set up a calendar and do the carrot stretches/bodywork/long warmups for 60 days and see where it takes us.

                                      Thanks for all the responses, it's good to have a hive mind to bounce things off of and suss it all out.

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        I always try to focus on this kind of stuff so I applaud your attention to detail and making sure you are doing all you can to keep your horse comfortable and happy in his work!

                                        As mentioned, plenty of turnout, good farrier care, and proper work - including a proper warm up and cool down - will go a long way toward keeping a horse sound. A lot of people *think* they do a good warmup, particularly - but I was taught to use a watch to time it, and was amazed at how "long" 20 minutes feels like until I got used to it! So something to think about. Likewise, taking time to really stretch your horse after work, and then do a proper cool down is super important.

                                        Other things I have found useful: I bought a Sports Innovation blanket which was a big investment, but one that has paid off in spades. I use it before getting on and also on days off as part of the horses' "super grooming" that happens on the days I don't ride. (Basically I spend the same amount of time I would spend riding doing a really deep grooming on the non-riding days.)

                                        All my horses get regular (monthly) body work from an FEI qualified therapist. That usually includes magna wave as well as hands on work depending on what each horse needs.

                                        Hope that helps!
                                        **********
                                        We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                                        -PaulaEdwina

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