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Conditioning for horses with EPSM

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  • Conditioning for horses with EPSM

    Does anyone have any tips or tricks they've found for conditioning eventing horses with EPSM? I seem to be making improvements every year on our conditioning schedule and am getting results but would love to hear from others in the same boat. I'm talking Training/Prelim level mostly.

  • #2
    Long and low is the hardest thing for these guys. So try to do alot of it, gently, especially on hills. Walk for miles. Walking is the best thing. Raised caveletti helps build the hind end. I got my EPSM TB to Morven's CCI* by doping these things. Obviously you have to do some wind work but the long slow distance is really your friend. Good luck.
    Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


    • #3
      I agree with RBP--LOTS of long and low, both at walk and trot. Hills and lateral work. AND....

      When I brought my 3 year old with sesmoditis (sp?) to "swim camp" where he swam every day for 2 months, I saw a BUNCH of horses doing pre-conditioning swimming.

      I just realized you said EPSM...I was talking EPM. Not sure if the treatment is the same...!
      --Becky in TX
      Clinic Blogs and Rolex Blogs
      She who throws dirt is losing ground.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Kairoshorses View Post
        I just realized you said EPSM...I was talking EPM. Not sure if the treatment is the same...!
        The conditioning may be the same-my outline is basically good for any body, especially critical for EPSM. EPM is a verrrrrrry different ailment. Not related in any way.
        Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


        • #5
          Pretty much what RiverBendPol said. Hills, cavaletti, lots of gymnastics when you're jumping. Transitions with the gait and between gaits, both on level ground and on those hills. Lots of long slow work. My OTTB mare is EPSM and currently competing happily at Intermediate - it's harder to build hind end strength on her than on most horses, but incorporating these things into all the work we do has really helped.


          • #6
            I agree with the gymnastics thing but do be very careful, start slowly and don't make them too complicated. Always start your gymnastic school from scratch.

            Another thought I had is to always be sure your horse gets its full fat ration every single day. If it goes off its feed, as EPSMers often do, dose it with oil in a dose syringe. I never took Mikey anywhere without my gallon of canola oil and a couple of dose syringes!

            Have you been to www.ruralheritage.com? Dr. Valentine is a wealth of info and you can read all about my struggles and successes with Mikey.
            Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


            • #7
              Don't forget the Diet

              I have found with my EPSM guy that warm-up and cool down are essential - long and low and allowing more time than other horses for those muscles to soften. Then, they need to work and work hard - lots of transitions within gates, lots of hills, also try walk poles spaced 3 feet apart and then raise them 4 inches. Keep the horse collected and round and make them work over them.
              Do not forget the diet and turnout, though, as RBP said. If they can live out, all the better.
              I also like long lining work once a week through the season to let him work long and low without having me on his back. When he is "fit" that will be my warmup.


              • #8
                My horse tied up twice while getting ready for Young Riders CCI **, a few years back. At first we didn't know why, then diagnosed him with EPSM. DIET is the first and for most important part of the puzzle. Low starch, low sugar, low protein. Kentucky Equine Research has good information and good feed, as well as Purina Ultium. I used them both, starting with the KER product, since it was a relatively new disease. Then later switched to Ultium since I could get it locally.

                As for conditioning, lots of long slow sessions. Lots of warm up and cool downs. Trot a long time before AND AFTER gallop sets, as well as walking before and after. Trail rides are great. When getting ready for Advanced I did all my dressage on the side of a hill in a field. It always kept my horses fitness level where I wanted and kept his boredom level down. Canter half-passes up a hill will really strengthen those muscles! But keep in mind this was about 4 years after the diagnosis. Another major factor with my horse was turnout. Summers he was out 17 hours a day, winters around 8 hours. These horses need to keep moving.

                My horse never had an issue after we realized what was going on, changed his feed, and re-vamped my conditioning program. He went on to do many more years at Intermediate /Advanced levels with no problem. Give it time, it takes a while to for the damaged muscles repair themselves and become reconditioned. As for with switching feeds, it takes a while (at least a month) for the stomach and gut to get use to new foods. Hope this helps!


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks. He's been on the diet for 3 years or so now and we've had good results. I've been concentrating now on fine-tuning the conditioning program. LONG walking hacks definitely helped last year but I think I need to find a way this year to get more galloping in too. It doesn't help that he's naturally a bit on the lazy side and quite big too.

                  Thanks for the reminder about cavaletti. I'd had some good results with those in the past as well. Any thoughts on one long ride per day versus 2 shorter rides (a "working" ride and a hack in the afternoon?). I feel like I have to do twice as diligent with the conditioning work of anyone else at the same level to keep this in check!


                  • #10
                    FYI - Kentucky Horse Park/UK/Pfizer is hosting a free veterinary information seminar on EPSM March 25.

                    Not many details posted yet, but some info at

                    apparently videos will be available afterwards.