Unlimited access >

Best exercises / schooling for sore-hocked older horse?

I’ve recently started part-leasing a 16 year old, 17hh ISH; he’s done loads of H/J at 1.2 in his younger years, and I’m using him for dressage. I’m riding him 2-3 days a week and a trainer is riding him 1-2 days as well, to keep him fit. (His owner is gone for a year.) He’s generally a lazy kinda guy, but has lovely gaits when he’s really working.

However, he has difficulty with the right canter: he’s reluctant to take it, is hollow, and generally will change behind or do little crowhops after just a half-circle in right canter, and then break to trot. His hocks are a bit sore (though they’ve been recently injected), and he has the handicap of having been accidentally shot in his right flank some years ago, no doubt compounding his ouchiness.

He does not have issues in the left canter.

I’m interested in recommendations for schooling and exercises that might help build up his strength and overcome some of his right-hind problems…and many thanks for the advice!

Is he on 24/7 turn out?

Yes, keeping 'em moving is a good thing but how hard and how long are you and the trainer working 5 days a week? Sounds like you are asking a lot to me.

Supplements? Injections?

Informative article here:


Lots of hacking and hills, but I think you might also need to be realistic about his physical capabilities. He may just not be sound enough at this point for what you’re asking.

Have you looked at his stifles? Maybe that’s the problem. Or even SI.

He sounds sore .

What does the vet suggest?

My horse is a bit like this. At 20 years old and 18.2 hh, he can come out a little stiff some days, and it has been consistent work over the last 2 years to get him in shape and build his muscle. I have a lot of horse to put together and this is what has worked for us:
-Lots of turnout. I moved him to a new barn in April where he is out either all night or all day, depending on the weather, with a buddy. He also has a double stall, so more leg room.
-Regular supplements and maintenance work. I put him on flax seed, which has a ton of natural joint-lubricating properties to it, and he is on Previcox. I also had his SI joint injected, which worked wonders and really helped loosen him up.
-Lots of transitions. Lots of them. Walk halt walk halt walk trot walk trot. Also, we always spend a good amount of time warming up walking at various paces - extended, collected, extended, working, collected, etc. It helps him get everything moving.
-Because he still will hop on occasion at the canter to the left (he is most definitely right handed), my goal for our first canter left is to just move forward. Then we go back to trotting a bit, then back to canter, again moving forward, then asking for collection and bending.