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strengthening tips please!

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  • strengthening tips please!

    Hello! I believe this is my first time posting in the eventing forum even if I am an eventer (despite several years off), but anyways, I am needing some help and suggestions for my gelding and I. He's coming off of an injury from May 2011 and has been being ridden since mid-December, though we are only just now getting more serious about our work. He goes really great at all gaits except when it comes down to cantering on the left lead. His point of weakness comes (some times dangerously) into play whenever I am asking him with the outside rein and leg to lift up his right (outside) shoulder and stay on a circle while cantering to the left (the dangerous part is that sometimes we just barely miss hitting obstacles because just cannot seem to move over..). I told my trainer this (as I haven't been able to take him back over to her place for lessons in a week or so) and she said that he needs to strengthen his right hind. Any suggestions on to how to work that right hind more?

    Visit MW Equine!
    Raven Beauty - '08 JC Thoroughbred mare
    Zeecandoit - '07 JC Thoroughbred gelding
    DBT My Dark Blue - '07 AHA Arabian Mare

  • #2
    Try some lateral work at the walk and trot. I am thinking shoulder/haunch in would be helpful in strengthening the hind end, as well as getting some flexibility out of the shoulder. If you can add in leg yield and a little baby half pass that's good too. Even just doing turn on the haunches and forehand, anything that is making him step up and underneath himself will help strengthen as well as keeping flexibility and getting him sensitive to your turning aids.

    One thing I like to do is a shoulder in part way up the long side and then turn that into a quarter turn on the haunches so I know they are staying engaged and true off my outside leg. You can get into a nice feeling shoulder in, but if you add more outside leg and change the game to all of a sudden turning around it keeps them attentive and makes them change their body to a new motion.

    Also just for normal hind end strength doing a lot of adjustability work, and you can stay on the rail for it, but asking him to collect a few strides-get as small of a w/t/c as you can while still feeling like the hind end is engaged. He will only be able to do it for a few strides at first, but just asking for those changes and making sure he stays connected for even a few strides is good. Then asking them to lengthen a little bit (try to keep him uphill so he has to push with the back end instead of running on the forehand).


    • Original Poster

      Yup! Okay that was very helpful! Thank you so much! Sadly I have to wait until fri/sat/sun to ride him again, but those will be things I'll definately put into our work. I like to do a lot of random serpentines while walking and trotting, at the walk especially since he's still just getting the hang of the "outside rein/leg means lift up and move over" thing. Ever since our ride yesterday this has been bugging me and I've been itchin to go and ride him again, but darn college comes first =/

      Yes, I also love the idea of the transitional work, I've been putting that into his flatwork as well. I just got off the phone with my trainer and I figured out that I worded it wrong in my text, which is why she thought right hind, but it's really his left hind that needs the most work (thanks to his injury it was weakened, DUH!). So thank you again for the tips! Can't wait to put them to use =)
      Visit MW Equine!
      Raven Beauty - '08 JC Thoroughbred mare
      Zeecandoit - '07 JC Thoroughbred gelding
      DBT My Dark Blue - '07 AHA Arabian Mare


      • #4
        If he has only been back under saddle since mid December- six weeks, tops-, he's still very, very weak, especially if you've only done ring work. I would concentrate more on over all fitness and strength by hacking out as much as possible (depending on where you are, I know that is easier said than done this time of year) with lots of walking. If you are stuck in the ring, keep the work simple with lots of straight lines and BIG loopy circles, with him stretching long and low. Add in some trot poles (a little at first) to substitute the terrain work he could get hacking). While transitions and lateral work are GREAT strength building exercises, I can't imagine this guy is very strong at all just yet, after s six month lay up.

        What was his injury? Stall rest? How long? What was the protocol used to bring him back to work? How serious IS your work? And what where you doing BEFORE you got serious?

        My horse was laid up for a couple of months this fall due to a minor tendon injury. He was stall rested and tack walked for 6 weeks. While he was cleared at the end of October to go back to work without the long, structured exercise protocol I've had to do with horses more seriously injured (30 days of tack walking, 30 days of trotting, gradually adding more time, etc, etc, etc), I still went very slowly with him. He mostly hacked for a solid month before being asked for much ring work. His ring work was brought along gradually....lots of long and low to start with and only big circles, gradually adding in more transitions, his lateral work, and now asking for more REAL work and brilliance (he's actually at the point now where he is stronger than BEFORE his injury, and he is being asked to up his game and give me a bit more in each ride). His jumping was brought along slowly with simple gymnastics, that gradually increased in difficulty (his "weight training"), and is now strong enough to jump fences and courses where he was pre-injury, though he still fatigues a little sooner than he did. But, with all of this I was VERY methodical about doing LOTS of slow work before asking for ring work, and lots of long and low, top line building type work before asking for real flat work. Even now, we still do a lot of both.

        My point is that you have to do the long, boring, slow stuff if you want your horse strong enough to do the more interesting stuff later on. I am curious as to what side lined the horse and how his injury and return to work was handled...that may help us give you better info on how to help get him strong again.


        • Original Poster

          Okay, since you asked! Last May it was right after feeding and he was having a nice gallop in his paddock, though I was leaving the barn, I stopped to watch his run for a little bit before I left, and I'm glad I did stop. It was almost sun down and so I think the issue was that the fence-line wasn't as visible as it could've been and instead of putting on the breaks far enough out to miss the fence, he ended up galloping right up to the fence, finally seeing it enough to clear with his front legs, but got his hind legs totally caught up in it. Now its the metal horse type fencing (not my preference, but its not my fence so I don't have alot of say) so at least it wasn't barbed wire, he ended up wiggling the right hind out alot faster than the left, but after a few seconds of being stuck he got free. By this time I had ran out there to catch him and bring him in for the much needed doctoring. He ended up straining his left stifle (which why he is weak on that side), along with numerous abrasions from his fetlocks to his flanks on both back legs. =/ He has had several chiropractic adjustments (during the summer time) once he was able to actually allow us to lift and work with his left hind, now he's sound, just weak.

          Before the injury was basically filled with relaxation time (as I had just bought him and he was coming from the track atmosphere), and then eventually easy rides, not really asking for any true collection yet as we were just getting reminded of the basics. It was planned to start him into "more serious" work come the 2011 summer, and then he got hurt and squashed that idea. Once he became sound again (before I started riding him in December), we spent a lot of time working on the ground, trail walks and such, just trying to rebuild his natural strength. No lunging since it was a stifle injury and the circling would do more harm then good, course you all probably know that. So I got a workout with him during the ground work time and I would have him do lots of walking and trotting (straight lines or small bends) with me running as well.

          Putting him back into work, I started out do a ton of the same things. Lots of straight lines or minor bends at the walk and trot, letting him keep a level head, not really bugging for collection, and we eventually added in cantering lines and transitions. Yeah I probably cut a few corners and most likely brought him back into collection work a bit too soon, but we'll work through it. = ) He has had one jumping lesson through gymnastics, but my trainer and I both feel like it would better benefit the both of us if we built him up and just worked on the flat for a while, as he lost practically all of his muscling and topline.

          To answer the serious question, I am in no means in any hurry with him to show and what not. If it takes us a year or two to build back (though it shouldn't) our/his strength, I don't mind that at all. I just want him to be sound and happy with his job, which he is. Right now I guess I could describe the serious-ness as just re-learning how to properly engage his hindend and round. Though he's coming 5, it's almost as if he's coming 4 seeing as all the time we've lost, so he's got to learn how to move properly first. Seriousness as in wanting to show soon, nope. I don't really think that answered the question, but it's all I can think of at the moment.

          Oh and my "ring" at home, is not a ring at all. It's actually his paddock, haha. No sand for us (unless at my trainer's), so the paddock has different terrain levels and we have to constantly work on going up and down the small slopes. I have access to some woods that we can hack out on, though he is barefoot and to get to the woods we have to hack down a rock road, so we don't go out as often as I would like (I hate staying in the ring and so does he). Anyways.. hopefully that helped.. maybe. =D

          for some reason this is the only shot I have of his hind legs when the injury was at it's worst, unfortunately it has the Underwoods/baking powder mixture on it.

          http://a2.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphot..._4109318_n.jpg the injury in september. This is basically all he has left, though it's gotten a little smaller as of now, but that's the only indication he has now of his accident.

          http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphot...04981625_n.jpg hacking out about a week and a half ago. just for grins =)
          Visit MW Equine!
          Raven Beauty - '08 JC Thoroughbred mare
          Zeecandoit - '07 JC Thoroughbred gelding
          DBT My Dark Blue - '07 AHA Arabian Mare


          • #6
            OK. That's good info to have. I'd go back to lots of slow work. Stifles can take a lot to get strong, once injured, and cane take a good long time to get them truly strong again. If you can, get out and ride out. Lots of hills if you have them. Make him march up and down them straight. In the ring, poles will help a lot, as well. Start with them on the ground, then raise them a bit. Walking and trotting over them.

            It shouldn't take a year to get him strong, but it will take more than 6 weeks. I would do another month or two of the slow work, with maybe a day or two of ring work (all this, of course, depending on your weather and footing this time of year!). He's young, too, so he doesn't have a deep base of fitness (my horse was already very strong AND had a racing career in his past AND only missed 2 months). You can't do any harm with ANY horse by doing lots of walking hacks and trot poles, especially a young horse.

            And I agree with the lungeing. The last stifle horse I helped bring back to work (much older and had been retired for 18 months) was hand walked and ground driven for a couple of months, both in the ring and out and about, before he was ever sat on. Then he did LOTS of walking, with slow, gradual addition of trot, then canter.


            • Original Poster

              Ah ground driving, see I'm a tard and I've been ground driving my mare as of late (only twice.. Saturday and Sunday), but I didn't think of doing that with my gelding.. it may be something to think of, but with him, I'd rather just ride! He's too big to keep up with haha.

              I'm from Texas and in my area, hills.. are basically none existent. I think the best I can do is to walk him up and down the pond bank! =D Also, as of now, he is only getting ridden 2 - 3 times a week and that is only on Fridays - Sundays, since I am unfortunately living at school and only get to come home on the weekends to work my two babies. It's definately not as much as I would like, but it will have to do until I get another school break and then summer.

              Trotting poles has been suggested by my trainer last weekend =) I have just yet to go out and get some! Also, our footing is iffy every now and then. When it rains.. it pours unfortunately and it takes everything several days to dry up enough to be riding worthy, otherwise my horses slip too much (barefoot). Hopefully last weeks rain will be enough for now and we won't get another bout for a little while so I can be guaranteed riding time on my weekends. Lessons planned for Fri/Sat at my trainers place with both babies, so I'll let you guys know how he does. He definately likes her sand better than my hard dirt/grass, but he'll survive! =D
              Visit MW Equine!
              Raven Beauty - '08 JC Thoroughbred mare
              Zeecandoit - '07 JC Thoroughbred gelding
              DBT My Dark Blue - '07 AHA Arabian Mare