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How much of a vacation for the bored horse

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  • How much of a vacation for the bored horse

    I've decided that it is time to give my good ole schoolmaster boy some time off.

    He is physically fine....but I can tell that he just seems to be burned out. And I don't blame him....it's been so digustingly wet/muddy/cold here in NC this winter that we have been riding in an indoor only for months. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for the indoor...but my horse feels completely dull/burned out.

    He's 20 and is trained through 3rd level dressage.....I know we've gotten into a rut...all my extra money goes towards my young horse's training...so basically the older horse is my babysitter...for me to practice on.

    He has an active mind and a very active imagaination...the indoor arena rides have gotten rather counter productive...he finds things to spook at, that have been there since we moved in....he gets tight, tense....just counter productive.

    He just had a vet exam this past fall and we did inject his hocks....I had his eyes checked a couple years back and it probably is time for another eye exam...

    BUT....how much vacation time can you give an older horse? I just don't want him getting out of shape for his own health. Physically, right now he could pass for a 10 year old horse. He has a strong level topline and nice muscle tone. Can I give him a couple of weeks? A month?

    He goes out for about 14 hours a day in a 5 acre pasture with my mare...so he gets alot of down time in the pasture on a daily basis. He does like to come in, eat his breakfast and take a nap in his stall....so I don't see any reason to change that routine.

    I'm hoping after some time off, weather will break and maybe we can get outside more......or maybe it is time to semi retire him and let him be a trail horse and lighten his load...I figured we would start with the short time off and see what we have, then re-evaluate.

    Thoughts? Advice?

  • #2
    Take him somewhere new? Like, haul to a ring and ride?

    I would give him no more than 2 weeks of no riding at all--the old guys lose their muscle so fast.

    Try to shake things up for him, mentally. Pop him over some cavaletti?? Put on your rain coat and hit the trail?

    Do you ride alone a lot? Maybe invite others to join you.

    We have the same problem right now--wet, wet, wet so we're stuck inside. My guy is getting a bit "sour" with the whole routine, as well. I think I'll put on my slicker and hit the hay field for a slow walk to break up our monotony!
    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


    • #3
      I think it was deltawave who brought up a scientific study from a few years back about this; it showed that horses do not lose much muscle tone in the first three weeks of a break from regular riding provided they were able to move around in turnout. After the three week mark they did start seeing dramatic changes.

      If you're not sure how this will go, you could play it by ear. There would be no harm in giving him a week or two off, then hopping on to see where his brain is.
      Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


      • Original Poster

        Don't have a trailer unfortantely.

        I'm not a wuss about the rain...it's too muddy right now in our area to go pop out on the trails. Horses are losing shoes just going out in their paddocks right now.

        Don't have any caveletti at the new barn.

        I'll chew on it over the weekend.....he gets every weekend off due to my schedule.


        • #5
          [QUOTE=dalpal;4592819Don't have any caveletti at the new barn.[/QUOTE]

          Do you have poles? I'm getting the winter doldrums a bit myself, and I'm thinking about popping down to the hardware store and building makeshift pole-raisers out of 2x4's. My barn has landscaping poles that have a flat side, so I can just rest the pole on the wood-bricks, but if you had round poles, it would be easy to screw together an H-shaped pole holder.

          My DH says to save the time and just order some Rail Razers, but I can't bring myself to pay $50 to raise poles 3.5" off the ground.
          Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


          • #6
            OK, so three weeks seems to be the magic number for time off. I would allot some of the $ from young horse fund for a few rides from professionals in other disciplines. Maybe a jumper trainer, or endurance, or eventer? He could spend a month at an eventing barn in training, and that might be really exciting for him!

            Just a thought- vacation doesn't always mean turnout, especially since you say he has an active brain and might not enjoy the downtime exactly.
            Do not take anything to heart. Do not hanker after signs of progress. Founder of the Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.