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Grand Prix Jumper Care

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  • Grand Prix Jumper Care

    My horse will hopefully be going up to the grand prix level w/in the next 12 to 14 months. The vet mentioned it is another completely different level of care. I am new to this...what does that mean? He is already on supplements, etc. Where can I find info to read about grand prix level horses, their care, etc. - book titles, articles. I am new to this and would to have good background info as we this direction. Any suggestions, please.

  • #2
    What level are you riding at now? The care shouldn't be any different unless you are jumping significantly lower right now.


    • #3
      I tend to add things on as my horses move up through the levels. But a lot of it is "as needed." For example, I tend to have my vet/chiropractor out more for my upper level horses. But that's often because they're making bigger efforts with their bodies and I want to make sure that they're not compensating for any stiffness or pain. I also up the conditioning schedule. My upper level horses get two-a-day rides throughout the show season, and are on a fairly rigid and consistent program from day to day.

      For example, my greenie TB who's doing the 3'9" stuff currently gets a Glanzen supplement, a chinese herbal supplement at shows (similar to sore-no-more), and gets his legs wrapped (standing wraps) from the 3rd night on in regular wraps. He's on a one-a-day riding program and gets jumped more (generally speaking) at the height he's showing and above than my more finished horse since he's on his way up.

      My AO Jumper mare gets the same supplements and she gets Back on Track wraps and a BOT sheet at shows from the first night of the show on. She also gets polyglycan before most shows. She's on a two-a-day conditioning program and jumps a lot of little fences and gymnastics, but rarely jumps at height at home.

      Both horses see the chiropractor a week before each and every show for last minute "tweaks" to help any underlying issues and to optimize their comfort for the show. It's also a great opportunity for my vet to have her eyes on them before we leave in case there's anything I'm not noticing.

      As heartinrye pointed out, the care shouldn't change much from where you are unless the move up to the GP level is a huge leap. I really don't feel like I change the program all that much from about the 4' level on. And if the horse isn't super scopey (meaning that the fences aren't easy for him), then the level of care doesn't change at all. My mare has felt like she's at the top of her scope range from the time we started in the 3'6" jumpers through the 4'6" jumpers, so she's been "babied' from the get go. My TB is super scopey and it doesn't require as much of his body to jump big jumps, so I don't worry nearly as much about him.

      I guess the point of my (rambling) e-mail is that all horses are different. Some need a "whole different level of care" and some don't. There are a lot of other factors too.....the intensity of your show schedule (one show a week versus one a month), what "riding at the grand prix level" means (1 Opener and 1 Grand Prix a week or a horse who's ridden in the Jr/AOs and the level 8s and the GP week after week), whether the horse is conformationally built to stay sound, etc.

      Anyhow, good luck with yours!
      Flying F Sport Horses
      Horses in the NW


      • #4
        Keep a close eye on your horse and he will tell you what he needs. Some horses need the full cazoo after a GP class - Centurion, Game Ready, hooves packed, legs done up in god knows what way, etc etc. But then there are some that need hardly a thing. One I am grooming for literally needs not a thing. He likes to be left alone. After a big class we put him away with his legs rubbed down with 'SpierGel' (like a cooling/anti-inflamatory gel) and that's it!! He gets nothing special before or after!
        I'd rather be riding!


        • Original Poster

          Grand Prix Jumper Care

          Thanks for the info! I really appreciate it. It is not me who will be jumping Grand Prix level by next year, but my trainer. Hopefully, I will be doing 3'6" competitively, but it seems like a reach right now. I want to learn as much as I can.


          • #6
            Fitness and management of your horse's jumping and great shoeing are probably more important than anything. My high A/O jumpers are about to get ridden 2x a day to get ready to move back up to the Highs this summer and smaller GP's because we believe that they must be fitter to handle jumping the bigger courses (and longer courses) competitively. My horses jump a small warm up on Thursdays (sometimes) - then a big class on Friday....then I try to give them off on Saturday (flat only) and then big money class on Sunday. Back east - many of the biggest GP and High A/O jumpers would often only break the timers on one class on a Thursday or Friday and ONLY do the big class on Saturday or Sunday (GP or classic).

            I have had them a 1x a day rides...but as they move up the levels - muscle and fitness are key for them handling that level of competition. Mine get massage, chiro, alpha stim (like Magnatherapy), and icing.....They are rarely jumped at height at home and most of the bigger GP riders/trainers I have been around rarely jump their horses at home... maybe a few gymnastics before the shows to make sure they are sharp and ready - but no pounding or overdoing it........and they get Legend or poly, etc at shows for joints. I keep them on regular joint supplements, etc...daily. If the ground is hard - then we pack their feet.....

            Every horse is different - and sometimes I think we're so busy overdoing it that we make them crazy. Once again - I'm a believer in fitness, making sure their routine gets changed up so they don't get bored and frustrated, and watching for ulcers as I think most high end horses have them (even when they don't manifest normally). And finding a great shoer who knows your horses and can keep their feet in amazing shape is crucial as well....


            • #7
              Originally posted by BarleyTwist View Post
              Thanks for the info! I really appreciate it. It is not me who will be jumping Grand Prix level by next year, but my trainer. Hopefully, I will be doing 3'6" competitively, but it seems like a reach right now. I want to learn as much as I can.
              Your trainer should be able to explain to you what in all likelyhood your specific horse will need. Every horse is different. . but many GP horses are injected (ex. hocks and ankles), are on some kind of cosequin, electrolytes. . some are put in magnetic blankets, bandages and foot pads before going in the ring. . it really differs from horse to horse.

              Good Luck
              "Lucky you to have ridden Kildonan Tug- Luckier you to have loved him"
              "Carrying you to prelim was the jewel in Tug's crown."
              "Great horses find you. You don't find them."


              • #8
                I'm not framiliar with GP jumper care, but I do tend to my barrel racing horse on a higher level of care than back when he did low equitation and flat classes. While a higher fitness level is needed to keep a jumper sound, a lot of their needs are the same because of the impact and stress on their joints.

                I don't know what you do with your horse now, but you may need to do additional things to keep him sound. Something as simple as applying rubbing alcohal as a tightener and coolant before a ride, to using a cooling clay after the course may be all that's needed. I have my horse on pure MSM plus Lubrisyn, a pure HA gel, plus I use Legend before a race, and the loading dose of Adequan a couple of times a year (cheaper and IMO safer than injecting joints). It really helps to keep him comfortable. Magnetic therapy, good chiro and massage work, liniments, poultice, etc. are great to keep him feeling good enough to compete at a higher level.

                I would say that what your vet is saying is not to be surprised if your horse needs an extra boost now and then to stay sound and comfortable. Injections, supplements, and body work can get pricy when you're striving to keep your horse performing at a GP level.


                • #9
                  I dont do the GPs yet, but I think the main difference I see with conscientous owners is that, as the horse moves up, they are jumped much less often- both at home and at the shows. Jumping bigger fences really puts a lot of stress on the horse's body. At home, they dont need to jump often (by the time they're at the GP level, the horse should know its job pretty well), and def not at height unless maybe a competition is coming up. And then at the show they are usually entered in just a few classes- just 1 class in a day and often giving day(s) off in between.

                  This is a really different program than that of a horse competing in the lower level divisions where a big component is practice for the rider, jumping smaller fences more often to help improve rider accuracy (like jumping every week at home and doing 2 classes a day at the show, etc.).

                  Like others have said, the specific maintenance will depend on how much showing you're doing, the age and condition of the horse, etc- Some horses may need a lot, others may not need as much- but I think that the universal recommendation would be not to over-do-it with what you're asking of your horse in the first place.

                  My observation may seem obvious, but in one of your posts you say that your horse will be moving up to the GPs with your trainer while you will "hopefully" be competing in the 3'6- there may be a disconnect in terms of what you need to improve your riding and reach your goals and the program that your horse will need as a GP horse.


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks for the more updated info. It is good to know about the rest btw showing. It makes more sense about my schedule and not jumping. This horse is not jumped very much btw shows. He is yet a little green and still has a little bit of a hard time at bigger shows in terms of nervousness adjustment. A little bit of gymnastics or jumping just before seem to help him get along better, but that is not always the answer either. He is worked on the flat regularly for fitness. I notice right now it helps him to be more comfortable and he performs better if he has a little more time to warm up before a big class. Not just come out of the stall and go jump. He is a good boy and my trainer is excellent w/ him. He is on supplements and I am sure it all dovetail in as he moves up. What is packing the hoof?


                    • #11
                      ICE!!! Ice is your very best friend...it is by far the most simplistic, inexpensive, and effective things you can do for your horse for both preventative and maintainence! You don't need to get a fancy machine but they do make it a bit more convenient. The one that does not require ice and has pressure massage built in is super nice to use, but expensive ($15k I think) (Don't get Game Ready! I have known soooo many people who have had one break on them...they were designed for people and just can't seem to handle the load for horses...JMHO waste of $) You can get a simple gel pack variety of ice pack and store it in a cooler with ice or in the fridge at a hotel or bring a small freezer with you to shows...but ICE use it often. Also, get traumeel gel or sore no more and massage your horses legs and tendons. I think we have forgotten to take our time with applying liniments and rubs; use a fast rigorous friction along the tendons and do this several times a day for 5 minutes per leg. You are trying to increase blood flow which will also increase the oxygen levels in the tissue cells. Be very hands on, and your horse will feel great and love you even more for it.


                      • #12
                        Ditto PNWJumper and MissIndependence. Great advice there.
                        I think your vet is trying to tell you to just pay specific attention to your horse, as he is a Grand Prix jumper. The care for the top Grand Prix jumpers is different than the little school ponies. Grooms are taught to look for specific things that the horse should not have: (how's his temperature, is he eating all his feed, are his joints a bit sticky, etc.) He should be treated like a king, so to speak. He should receive the best care, feed, supplements, etc. Groomed everyday, stall picked numerous times a day, possibly hotwalked, etc. It's all about making your horse comfortable and happy.
                        Packing the hooves is used to make them a bit more comfortable after a long day of showing. Many tack stores have made hoof packing products that can be applied to the hooves, then wrapped in bandage and then duct tape. It's a great thing to do, especially with the upper level jumpers or when horses have shown a lot over a few days.


                        • #13
                          I think the biggest change is the way you think of them. If a horse has the talent to do the GP's you have to start thinking of them like an expensive sports car, they only come out of the garage on sunny days!!

                          I don't advocate throwing every supplement known to man at them, but you certainly have to be thoughtful about what they need, and make sure they have it. As one poster stated your horse will tell you what they need.

                          I think the biggest change is that you really have to manage their training differently. GP horses work towards events, not toward a basic level of fitness. Your horse will spend much less time "training" and a lot more time conditioning. They have to train like a race horse, building up their conditioning without taking too much out of them. Galloping them, working hills, next to no fences, etc. with a major focus on avoiding injury.

                          One big thing, since your trainer will be doing the GP's, not you, I would hazard to guess that you will not be getting a whole lot of saddle time. I would also guess that while the horse is doing the GP route he will not be doing anything else. The GP route is highly specialized, and GP horses are rare, now days it is a very rare GP horse that does the big route and anything else at all. It simply takes too much to develop a GP horse and keep them competitive to risk it on a less-experienced rider, or to allow the horse to waste energy, or risk injury doing lower level classes.

                          The GP route is a long road, you don't really just start doing GP's, it takes years to develop GP horses once they have started doing GP's, there are few overnight sensations, and those that are tend to fade just as fast as they started. Be prepared for a few years at least of development at the GP level, and be prepared for the goal bar to drop a great deal. A horse new to the GP's will be considered successful if he gets around the course, period, and it may be a long time before a trainer will even ask much more from a GP horse.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by CrossWinds81 View Post
                            ICE!!! Ice is your very best friend...it is by far the most simplistic, inexpensive, and effective things you can do for your horse for both preventative and maintainence! You don't need to get a fancy machine but they do make it a bit more convenient. The one that does not require ice and has pressure massage built in is super nice to use, but expensive ($15k I think) (Don't get Game Ready! I have known soooo many people who have had one break on them...they were designed for people and just can't seem to handle the load for horses...JMHO waste of $)
                            I second the ice suggestion, it is a very under-appreciated commodity! Ice can do wonders! And don't invest in the Game Ready, ours broke the first time in it's first trailer ride (yes it was packed carefully and nothing fell on top of it), and I had to pay and wait months to get it fixed and the second time it just gave out and again had to pay and wait and they sent it back and it still does not work! I just use ziplock bags and wraps and cold hosing now.

                            Can't say enough about having a fit horse (we have a horse-walker that we use constantly at home), or possibly ride them twice a day with conditioning in mind. Depends on the horse.

                            We also make sure they have regular chiropractic. I also really like the Back on Track blankets and wraps. And good, old meticulous care all the way around with feeding, grooming, wrapping, hoof-packing, etc.

                            Someone above said be very hands-on, I agree. Know his body, needs, likes and dislikes inside and out. You are managing an elite athlete. It's a lot of work, but there is no better feeling when they do well!
                            "A good horse and a good rider are only so in mutual trust."


                            • Original Poster

                              The info gets better and better! Thank you so much! I understand about the ice now. Makes good sense. I think I will be going the ice pack route at least for now. We have not been doing that, but do lots of linements, rubbing alcohol. Yes, he is treated very well and we are always watching out for him,checking on him. I am his groom pretty much, certainly at home as I can't travel very much.

                              On GP development, I am just really beginning to get an inkling of the long term aspect of it, that it is not just overnight. It makes sense that it will take a while and we don't want early burn out. Yes, I am also seriously beginning to understand the lack of saddle time and how that will increase as he moves up. I am not keeping pace and not sure when I could do a GP, if ever. So, do I want to be a manager type person or a rider. I want to be both. I need another horse to ride that is also good, big jumper and FREE hahaha!


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by BarleyTwist View Post

                                On GP development, I am just really beginning to get an inkling of the long term aspect of it, that it is not just overnight. It makes sense that it will take a while and we don't want early burn out. Yes, I am also seriously beginning to understand the lack of saddle time and how that will increase as he moves up.
                                As your horse moves up to the levels it will need MORE u/s time to get him more and more fit. Most GP horses are ridden twice a day, they usually just don't get jumped often.