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How long to bring back?

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  • How long to bring back?

    One of my horses has been out for the past 2.5 months, and looks about ready to start back up again. I have a plan in place to bring him back slowly, but I wanted to get other folks take on how long I should expect for a horse to go from laid up to competing at novice again. It’s been so long since I’ve had to bring a horse back that I want to make sure I’m being realistic about it! He gets turned out for 16 hours a day in a field with hills, and does his fair share of playing and romping around out there, so does have some fitness, he just hasn’t been worked under saddle. His muscle tone looked good for the first 2 months, but the last few weeks I’ve noticed that he’s losing some of his topline. He is a TB/WB cross, doesn’t gain fitness super quickly like some TBs, but I also wouldn’t put him in the class of difficult to condition (he’s only gone up through Novice so far so has never had the need to be really really well conditioned!). The reason he was laid up was because of a case of really bad allergies that took me a while to figure out, so it was not anything lameness related that needs special consideration in that regard. So, I realize it’s hard to generalize on this, but given the above, how long would you say to get back into shape to compete at Novice?

  • #2
    Since he's been turned out, I'd be less concerned about legging him up, but a baseline rule of thumb is half the time they've been off to bring them back. For your horse, I'd start out with a week to 10 days of walking under tack, and then slowly start adding in light flatwork and going from there. Novice level fit doesn't have to be very fit, honestly, and I think you'll be surprised how good he feels over all. I wouldn't be going quickly to putting lots of pressure on him, but I'd guess he'd likely come back pretty cheerfully/quickly.


    • #3
      I don't think I'd even worry about just walking him for 10 days since he's not coming back from any lameness issue- I'd start trotting and cantering, just take it in account that he's not "fit" and don't canter around for 5 mins each way, but a lap or two around the arena to stretch and use the muscles should be fine.

      Age would also be a factor- if he's decently young then he should bounce back quickly and I'd WTC him for a week, concentrating on trot work and long low stretchy work to bring him back over his back (don't force his head low, just wherever he's comfortable carrying his head). If he's older then lots of walking and trotting should be fine to work out the kinks. Just remember if you have a particularly hard ride the next day get out and walk lots/some trot him to stretch out his muscles.

      Also heat is a factor- not sure where you live and if you're having the crazy heat wave like most of the country is, but don't push your horse to hard in the heat. Watch his breathing carefully and let him catch his breath often

      When legging my horse back up I try and think about putting myself in his shoes. Yes you can on the very first day go run 5 miles after not running for 2 months but the next day or 2 you are going to be sore. Instead run/walk 1 mile and then add more distance and less walking as the weeks go on.

      You can always er on the side of caution, but I think if you listen to your horse, keep an eye on his soundness, and keep him in steady work you should be fit for novice in a month.

      Oh and HILL WORK will be your friend

      I'm bringing my guy back to BN work and this is what I've been doing. He's been great and my busy schedule is the only thing keeping his fitness lower than I'd like!
      proud owner of a very pretty but completely useless horse (and one useful horse!)

      Horse Thoughts