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Horse who gets lazier as he gets fitter?

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  • Horse who gets lazier as he gets fitter?

    Hi Everyone!

    I am looking for some incite, has anyone had a horse who gets lazier as they get fitter? I've been slowing increasing the workload of my horse but now that we are in the spring and he's reasonably fit I'm having trouble with him just being lazy. We used to need to canter for several minutes before we could even start working, now I'm having to carry a whip and spurs to get a forward momentum in the trot.

    We're not super competitive, we spent last year at BN and would like to move up to N this year. My horse is a 14 yr. old OTTB, overall pretty good guy but used to be a total hot head until the last couple of years. This is the first time I've ever experienced laziness from him. At first I thought he was just tired (getting older?) but when he is naughty (once every couple weeks or so) he can go forever and when I turn him out in his field he'll often spend 5 minutes galloping, bucking, and playing with his field mates. He is also significantly perkier when jumping and in the field, mostly it's the flat work that gives me trouble.

    Our general schedule:
    Monday: Off
    Tuesday: Dressage lesson
    Wednesday: Jump lesson
    Thursday: Dressage Lesson
    Friday: Off
    Saturday: Jump Lesson (sometimes we go to jumper shows)
    Sunday: Hack (Off if showed the day before)

    I think it may be just a matter of obedience/boredom, but I've never in the 6 years I've owned him had to pester him to go forward (usually its the opposite) like I've had to the last month and it feels like it's getting worse. I don't want a push ride (thats why I got TB) but I also don't want to give up on my horse.

    Has anyone dealt with this before? Any suggestions?

  • #2
    My boy doesn't get lazier as he gets fitter but he is lazy at home. Minion kinda goofs off when we are doing anything at home even if I switch around his training or we just work out in the field, he doesn't put forth all his effort.
    Now when we go to a show, he gets his breeches on and decides that it is time for everyone to look at him, but not in an over powering out of control way. He just amps it up a knotch so that the judges notice his toe flipping and his jumping is more forward and smooth!!!
    Funny boy he is, but I know what you are saying too!!
    No Worries!


    • #3
      I used to ride a retired Prelim mare who in the dressage part of our lessons was totally a push ride, but when the jumping started she was all OTTB. It could be boredom try doing something new and different to see if that gets more motivation out of him. Take him for a trail ride maybe, if he's safe doing that. Or change the jumps, make them look different to see if that my pique his interest. My mare is completely unphased by most of the jumps in my riding area, but if I change one thing its like a whole new horse under me.
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      • #4
        14 is certainly not "older" in a way that should be this apparent.

        Easiest thing to do is mix it up. Do some dressage in a field, or haul out to a friend's place and try dressage there. Go for MORE hacks -- tack one on to your ring work days.

        If that does not give you insight into what's going on, I would begin to be suspicious that there could be something physical at work. My horse is definitely not a fan of dressage, especially in the indoor. I know him very well, and know exactly how that feels. When I am not 100% whether he is physically OK (whether it be a subtle lameness or ...), I always take him to the indoor and do flatwork. He likes to jump and hack out so much I will never be able to tell if he's OK doing that -- I know it'll get masked by his enthusiasm.
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        • #5
          While it may just be lack of work ethic, I'd do a vet check (thorough physical), pull blood etc (depending on your area, lyme, EPM etc may be more/less likely; also TB's have been diagnosed with EPSM which may occur over a range of symptoms from slight to severe).


          • #6
            pull a blood panel and just check it out. : )

            Also, maybe the grass or hay has less nutriants? Spring is usually when the 1st cutting comes through and often that hay is not great or it's really stressed and full of crazy sugars.

            I used to try to liven up my TB. He was just laid back. That's all there was too it.

            If he is an easy keeper and doesn't need much feed, maybe try something like Triple Crown 30%. Or maybe adding some alfalfa?
            Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


            • #7
              Do a cbc/chem and a thyroid level


              • #8
                While I don't want to discount the possible health issues that may be happening (I think it wise to check the above mentioned things), judging by your schedule, that's a lot of lessons and drilling in my book. He could very well be feeling dull, bored, and lazy. I totally agree with the others who say GET OUT of the ring. Once a week would not be enough for my highly motivated workaholic of a horse. We get out as much as possible, including the days we actually school.

                And I know everyone's needs are different, but 4 lessons a week seems like a lot. Are they really all lessons? Even when I worked FOR a trainer, I only usually did 2 serious lessons a week on my personal horse. Lessons are often hard work and pretty tiring (at least the ones I take are), and while I work hard on my own, I know I don't work us nearly as hard as when I am in a lesson. If your lessons are hard work, he might actually BE tired and fatigued. My horse usually needs a stretchy, soft, fluffy ride the day after a dressage lesson so he can work out the kinks of using muscle groups that are still developing. If it were me, I would back down to ONE lesson of each a week, add in more hacking, and make a ride or two a little less intense. You can still school and practice, but not as hard or as long, maybe.

                Just some food for thought....totally basing this on MY perspective on life, riding, and training.


                • #9
                  I have one that gets like this when he has ulcers. Normally he's very...lets say exuberant....but when he has ulcers, he gets lazy and slow. Mine doesn't ever come off his feed like others with ulcers had. But treat him with GG and he gets lively again. So for him, he just doesn't feel great so gets lazy.

                  Hopefully yours is something simple.
                  ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
                    While I don't want to discount the possible health issues that may be happening (I think it wise to check the above mentioned things), judging by your schedule, that's a lot of lessons and drilling in my book. He could very well be feeling dull, bored, and lazy.
                    What yellowbritches said. That's a lot of lessons and if your demeanor is one of "serious work" then he could be bored and really hating his job. If you must keep up that regimen, then find a way to add in some fun stuff that he likes and try to have a fun/playful attitude yourself. He'll notice.


                    • #11
                      Check your saddle fit. There are some horses that don't complain, but will not move forward when they have a saddle that pinches their withers/shoulder blades. As he's gotten fitter, his shape may have changed.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by sevensprings View Post
                        What yellowbritches said. That's a lot of lessons and if your demeanor is one of "serious work" then he could be bored and really hating his job. If you must keep up that regimen, then find a way to add in some fun stuff that he likes and try to have a fun/playful attitude yourself. He'll notice.
                        Depending on how you ride & how your coaches train, I don't think the "lessons" need be an issue

                        Horse is 14 now, have you ruled out arthritis? had a recent thorough physical exam? (also agree with another poster who brought up ulcers)


                        • #13
                          I think the easiest test to start would be to take him out on a nice hack if he's good on trails. Have a little canter in a field, let him relax with a change of scenery, and have fun. If he perks up, you know what the issue is. If not, then it may be time to look at possible medical explanations.

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                          • #14
                            Never knew a healthy horse that got lazier as it got fitter.

                            But I have known MANY horses that get sour from too much time in the arena / too much drilling / too much hyper-controlled work.

                            When I read your schedule, my first reaction was to swap out two of those lesson days for hack days. You can do conditioning / hill work, concentrating on working in a proper frame etc, but get out of the arena, and make sure he is having some FUN.
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                            • #15
                              To me he sounds sour. Before spending lots of money on testing, do a few things that are quick and easy. Check saddle fit, do a really good groom to rule out sore spots. Then, go for FUN rides. Stop drilling, drilling, drilling. Many horses will get bored and sour. Don't work on the difficult stuff, just very basic "easy" stuff the horse knows. Keep the other medical stuff in mind, but this feels like he's bored to me.