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Back/body sore after starting new program. How much is normal?

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  • Back/body sore after starting new program. How much is normal?

    Coming back to to dressageland for some more advice

    My guy has recently moved to a new barn and has started in a pretty intense new training program. He has changed careers from hunters, and is a bit older at 14. He seems to be doing really well and is (sort of) seeming to enjoy his job. He does get easily frustrated when he doesn't 'get it' and his classic tantrum is to tense up and invert.

    With his new program, he's gotten a bit sore through the back and bum, enough to be flinchy to a vigorous grooming or poking and prodding. I know that he is bound to be sore but I'm worried after the back issues he had a few months ago. Saddle was checked by fitter a couple of moths ago, and he gets regular chiro and massage. Vet did check out hocks and stifles, and they are fine.

    Maybe I'm just being paranoid? I've decided to give him a few days of light work (hacking around) and a bit of bute today and tomorrow. Just wondering if this is normal, or if I should be calling the vet (again)

  • #2
    How often is he massaged? I'm guessing he's having a hard time with collection and that's why he's frustrated? perhaps you're moving him too fast. Are you allowing him to move out as well as asking him to collect? You say he had back issues a few months ago, what happened? Yes-they can come back if you are not doing enough massages to really work it out and keep it out.
    Equine Massage Therapy Classes and Rehab for Horses


    • #3
      In addition to massage you might consider a bit of cross training. Since dressage will ask him to collect more and shift his balance back, why not mix in a few small jumps or some hacking out?

      That will give him the chance to stretch out those muscles as he's building the strength to carry himself differently.
      Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
      EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


      • #4
        Horses are just like us. You need to increase difficulties and efforts gradually.
        Yes, horses can become a bit sore from (over) training but it shouldn't affect that much. Like us. I don't go to the gym and come back so exhausted that I'm unable to walk the day after.

        By becoming tense and inverting himself, your horse is telling you something is wrong. He is not a youngster that doesn't know its job, he's been a low long frame hunter and just cannot become a short high frame in a second, especially at this age. THose are new muscles that need to build up.

        Listen to your horse, take it easy...what is the hurry for? Anyway, if you don't take your time, you'll end up with a sore horse you won't be able to ride because he's going to get sour and lame...
        ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

        Originally posted by LauraKY
        I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
        HORSING mobile training app


        • #5
          Sounds like too much, too fast without enough days off in between for recovery.

          I'd change the program and make sure my horse was happy and comfortable. They need to get pushed, but to be that sore? That's not acceptable. With horses you don't go for the major burn that people are willing to tolerate when working out. They don't know the end goal and they get frustrated and start hating work if all it does is makes them sore. You need to slowly build.

          Always remember when working your horse it should go back to it's stall with gas left in the tank. Also, the work outs need to have built in breaks and stretches. You need to have a rider that knows the horse well and knows it's limits. Pushing it too long to achieve an owner's goals in a short period is just wrong. (In this case maybe it's the trainer who thinks they need to push to meet your expectations?)
          "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"


          • #6
            Originally posted by JustABay View Post
            I know that he is bound to be sore but I'm worried after the back issues he had a few months ago.
            If he's sore, you're new training program is too intense. Take it more slowly and give him time to figure out how to use his body in a new way and strengthen the right muscles. You'll get fewer tantrums, too.

            Just saw Velvet's post and I agree. Push him, yes. But not that hard. And don't use bute. That will only mask soreness that you need to know about.
            "... if you think i'm MAD, today, of all days,
            the best day in ten years,


            • Original Poster

              Thanks for the replies. A bit more info to clarify;

              He had a saddle fit issue several months ago that turned into major soreness issues that required him to take a month off. Vet recommended lungeing in pessoa rig a few days a week and lots of pole work to help rehab.

              I have kept the pessoa rig in my program, and he gets lunged in it 2x weekly, lesson once weekly, pole work and hacking once weekly and a good flat school with hill work once a week. The lessons mainly consist of getting himself to really use his bum and become more rideable with his gaits, so lots of lengthening and transitions within gaits and trot and canter poles to help either open him up or get him to shorten. He likes to get a bit stuck sometimes and I have to always be thinking forward. He does get one or two days off a week, and is living out for the summer, which he seems to love.

              I didn't really feel like we were rushing him along, but if so, how do I step down the program? The hacks are new, the new place I'm at has a TON of great hacking, and lots of hills so I'm taking full advantage of it!

              ETA: I only do the massage about every 8-12 weeks when the chiro comes out, she does massage as well


              • #8
                If I have a one month off, and just return to gym, to my regular exercising regime, I'd get sore too. It is to be expected. What should I do? Push forward, mix my exercises so I don't train the same muscle every single day, make sure I have a day or two of rest here and there, and pop in an Aleve or two.

                Of course you do't want to push him so hard that he'd injure himself, which I really don't see you do from your post, but you don't want to back off just because he is sore, otherwise, he will never progress to his potential. Contrary to some belief, soreness is good. It means he is working. If an athlet never gets sore, that athelet has not pushed himself/herself hard enough. Just my 2 cents.