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Bringing Horse Back After Two Years Off

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  • Bringing Horse Back After Two Years Off

    I am SO excited to say, I am just starting to recondition my 14 year old TB after nearly 2 years off. He had some medical and mental issues and I made the decision to give him some time off and see where he was in a year. Well, nearly 2 years later he is sound and happy and we are both eager to get back to some light work. He was my Jr/AO jumper that I showed for 8 years, so he's very well broke and trained. But he is VERY unfit. After being a lazy pasture pet for 2 years, his neck looks half the size it was and there is no muscle tone.

    He is on 24/7 turnout. Until it stays light out a bit later, I can only ride 2-3 times per week right now. I really only have an indoor to work with. We have trails, but he can get a little spooky and strong and it's pretty snowy out there - so I'll skip that until spring. But come spring I do plan to take him on some nice long walks up and down the hills.

    So advice on getting this guy back into shape for the next couple months? How much is too much and how do I know? The last 2 times I rode him I rode about 25 minutes with about 5-10 minutes trotting just keeping him long and low. He felt great and was so eager and willing, but I don't want to push it. He has had joint issues and I want to make sure I build him up slowly. He's a naturally energetic and very willing guy, so it's hard to gauge if he's had too much.

  • #2
    If you are in it for the long haul, start with 2 weeks of walking (and there is LOTS you can do at the walk to re-establish the aids and not get bored).

    Then start adding trot, increasing the amount over 2 weeks- the first week just relaxed trotting, the second week starting to work on "skills"

    Then start adding canter- the first week just relaxed cantering, the second week starting to work on "skills".

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


    • #3
      Do you have the skills/space/ability to do long lines or round pen or lunging work with him? (Forgive me, I dont know your background)...

      I have a 23 year old OTTB mare who was a broodmare for about a decade before she came to us. Once we solved some other issues, it was time to get her back to work. My sometimes instructor suggested that I begin with her working at liberty in the round pen, with lots of transitions and lots of short trots and only rarely a canter. We did this work for 3-4 weeks with increasing lengths of sessions.

      Once she was starting to carry herself a bit better, we went to ground driving/long liningm again, focused on coming along VERY slowly. If she would come round in the lines, we'd go just 2, 3, 5, 6 strides, then relax and encourage her long and low again. Gradually we worked our way up.

      When we were happy with her topline and condition - about 2 months if i recall -- is when we put her back in saddle, and what we did was a brief warmup on the lines, then rider on her back, all work very relaxed rein, mostly walking work, the first week. We soon learned that she was afraid of contact while being ridden and so that took us on a tangent for a while, but we continued in this gradual style.

      I dont have any video fo the work with Factor, but I do have a video fo work we were doing this fall with her son who is also at our facility. He had a several month layoff due in part to an abscess and in part to being lower priority than other horses who were en route to adopt...so, we did the same with him. There's a video on his page at http://www.crosswindseqresq.org/kelso.html of him working in long lines where we were working on building topline. (Sorry the video is pretty poor, and please do note we were doing a lot of suppling. i've had several people assume we were unintentionally allowing him to counter bend, but at least MOST of the time that he is counter bent it was per my instructor's advice.)

      We were VERY pleased with how his top line came along from the longlining BEFORE I got back in the saddle. He used to carry himself fairly hollow before, and he has made a lot of progress in that area since we took this time to do this groundwork first.

      Best of luck and congrats that your boy is BACK!!
      Crosswinds Equine Rescue, Inc.
      AnnMarie Cross, Pres, Crosswinds Equine Rescue, cwer.org
      Sidell IL (near Champ./UofI/Danville IL/IN state border)


      • #4
        I'm bringing my older TB back from 18 months off for a pelvic fracture (9 months stall rest). At this point, all walking, a nice forward engaged medium walk, asking him to shorten and lengthen his stride, and transitions to halt. We've been doing 20 minutes 4x/week, with walk/trot work at liberty in the arena 1-2 days/week, and also some hand walking over cavaletti to get him to round his back and use himself a bit more. I just increased his walk time to 30 minutes. I'm amazed at how much walking is building his topline; he started back under saddle in October, with me sitting on him for 5 minutes to start and increasing gradually. Chiropractic has been a huge help in keeping his body in good shape as well. Slow and steady wins the race with rehabs.