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Good easy, topline and all body conditioning exercises

Hey all!

We just purchased an awesome OTTB a month ago, and was wondering if any of you had any conditioning exercises to help strengthen his back.
We are starting him off slowly because of his hooves (they were awful :frowning: ), so he gets ridden at minimum 3 days a week. He definitely needs bending and flexion exercises which we have started, but he is getting bored/lazy with the same things. HE LOVES to be on trail, but is defiantly ring sour. He is a true gem though. :smiley:

So any exercises are appreciated!!

Walking up hills, then when he is more fit, trotting them.

Ground poles set at 4’ apart, 3’ apart and eventually, 5’ apart.

Raised cavalletti.

Thank you!!

Definitely hills. Long, slow work will condition the muscles best. Once he is more fit, he will be able to bend more easily. If he loves trails so much, do leg yields past trees and things like that.

i’m definitely going to keep the hills up, luckily we have quite a few long but not too steep hills i can work him on. :slight_smile: and the leg yield past trees is a great idea! thank you!

No hills until his feet are fixed. Poor angles are absolute hell on soft tissue/ligaments. Hills are hard enough on properly shod feet - you don’t want to be risking a suspensory.

I wouldn’t be putting the horse before the cart here… fix his feet first, then worry about topline. Chances are he has a weak topline because he’s sore/compensating for his poorly shod feet. Can you show us pictures of his pedi?

IMHO the best “quick and easy” for topline is good farrier, good feed, and full turn out.

My horse has KS so keeping his back really strong is the only way to keep him from getting sore. What I did to get him in shape was lunging with a Chambon to help him work long n low rather than like a giraffe (his natural stance when lunging) and NOT working him in the round pen I do not like round pens. I also lunged him over ground poles placed randomly in the arena (without the chambon of course). Then once he was moving more freely and I could physically see some muscle development, I started riding. Just walking at first then building up to trotting, cantering, etc. and also doing more lateral work. When I didn’t ride I would also lead him up this rather short but steep hill near my arena. This along with good hay and plenty of protein led to some impressive muscle growth! Of course he hurt his hoof and was off for a couple weeks, so it’s back to square one again.

[QUOTE=beowulf;8287181]
No hills until his feet are fixed. Poor angles are absolute hell on soft tissue/ligaments. Hills are hard enough on properly shod feet - you don’t want to be risking a suspensory.

I wouldn’t be putting the horse before the cart here… fix his feet first, then worry about topline. Chances are he has a weak topline because he’s sore/compensating for his poorly shod feet. Can you show us pictures of his pedi?

IMHO the best “quick and easy” for topline is good farrier, good feed, and full turn out.[/QUOTE]

I do not have any before/after pics of his feet but our awesome farrier fixed him up and he is on a supplement to promote heel growth. He was able to be shod on all fours (farrier was afraid they wouldn’t hold because he basically had no hoof wall and they were spongy) and is on low impact slow work for no more than 1 hr. with lots of breaks.
They had him on 2lbs of sweet feed per feeding (AHHH), but we switched him to Sentinel LS, and hay cubes, with as much hay as he can eat. We don’t have full turnout but he is out for most of the day.

[QUOTE=trailrider2015;8287276]
I do not have any before/after pics of his feet but our awesome farrier fixed him up and he is on a supplement to promote heel growth. He was able to be shod on all fours (farrier was afraid they wouldn’t hold because he basically had no hoof wall and they were spongy) and is on low impact slow work for no more than 1 hr. with lots of breaks.
They had him on 2lbs of sweet feed per feeding (AHHH), but we switched him to Sentinel LS, and hay cubes, with as much hay as he can eat. We don’t have full turnout but he is out for most of the day.[/QUOTE]

With all due respect one trim is rarely sufficient to fix poorly addressed feet – unless the hooves are not as bad as we are thinking. If you can snap some picutres, we have some fantastic people on this board who are very knowledgeable re: hoof issues/angles.

Sounds like you gave him an upgrade re: his feed. I like Sentinel but just make sure your BM knows that a quart of BS-LS is not the same as a qt of sweetfeed in terms of volume… so you may need to feed “more” to get the same amount weight-wise. I had a hard time maintaining weight on my hard keeper on BS-LS and ended up switching to Fibremax, but I do like the BS-LS’ panel.

I suspect if his angles were not that great and he has very little hoof wall and soft feet, that he may have some soreness that needs to be worked through before you worry about his topline. The topline is one of the last things to really fill out in a horse.

If his feet are soft think about some sort of topical… I like Farrier’s Fix or Cobra-Hoof Freeze, both I’ve seen help develop callous. If he has very little hoof wall you are going to want to limit the amount of work he is doing until some more grows in.

Hilary Clayton’s carrot stretches.

http://equimed.com/health-centers/fitness-and-conditioning/articles/dynamic-mobilization-exercises-for-horses

There’s also a book on my wish list:

Activate Your Horse’s Core: Unmounted Exercises for Dynamic Mobility, Strength & Balance

Available here
http://www.sporthorsepublications.com/

And here:
http://www.amazon.com/Activate-Your-Horses-Core-Unmounted/dp/0974767018

[QUOTE=beowulf;8287297]
With all due respect one trim is rarely sufficient to fix poorly addressed feet – unless the hooves are not as bad as we are thinking. If you can snap some picutres, we have some fantastic people on this board who are very knowledgeable re: hoof issues/angles.

Sounds like you gave him an upgrade re: his feed. I like Sentinel but just make sure your BM knows that a quart of BS-LS is not the same as a qt of sweetfeed in terms of volume… so you may need to feed “more” to get the same amount weight-wise. I had a hard time maintaining weight on my hard keeper on BS-LS and ended up switching to Fibremax, but I do like the BS-LS’ panel.

I suspect if his angles were not that great and he has very little hoof wall and soft feet, that he may have some soreness that needs to be worked through before you worry about his topline. The topline is one of the last things to really fill out in a horse.

If his feet are soft think about some sort of topical… I like Farrier’s Fix or Cobra-Hoof Freeze, both I’ve seen help develop callous. If he has very little hoof wall you are going to want to limit the amount of work he is doing until some more grows in.[/QUOTE]

I don’t think one trim could ever totally make over a hoof. I do think you are imagining the worst. He basically was all toe and no heel. They take a minimum of six months to grow a half a hoof. His angles are still too low, but with such soft/minimal hoof wall to nail to, farrier had to work with what we had. He was cleared for work by vet and farrier. Small hills, flatwork at w/t, cavaletties to start topline development. Bottom line was he needed better nutrition, some back muscles, and movement to encourage hoof growth.
And yes, we are building him up to a bigger ration of grain, all of our horses are on it and we have been feeding it for years. It really is a great feed when feed properly. Since we switched his feed completely, I didn’t want the shock to his system to cause colic.
We were instructed to put a sealant on his feet three times a week, until his next shoeing. Ive been using Tuff Stuff and are am having great results. Farrier stopped by the other day to check and said he is progressing well and hopefully will be able to get heel pads since he has a better/stronger wall.
His feet will be a long process. But they both (vet and farrier) told us to ride him. But we are keeping it to a minimum; 3 days a week for no more than an hour. I will definitely try to get pics.

Back lifts.

I’m also working to build a base of fitness with a new OTTB. They’re the best :smiley:

I’ve really enjoyed some of the exercises and routines outlined in Equine Fitness; you can download the Kindle version or order a physical book that comes with tear-out cards you can laminate and take to the barn - useful if, like me, you need a cheat sheet!

Without seeing his feet it’s hard to make a recommendation about hills, but I’ll echo that any uneven ground will amplify whatever might be going on with the hoof angles, etc. If you do have access to gentle hills those might be great! Honestly, exercises like spiraling in and out, serpentines, poles or cavaletti, and so on - working at the walk (I know, so exciting!) in anything resembling a good, non-giraffe frame - are really good for building muscle. And you can do these wherever you want! Trail, field, ring, whatever works.

http://s1078.photobucket.com/user/clogan1206/media/Walker815.jpg.html

So I have included a pic of his LF hoof. as you can see his heels are close to ground. but considering he was walking on his heel, I will say there is visible improvement.

[QUOTE=trailrider2015;8288857]
http://s1078.photobucket.com/user/clogan1206/media/Walker815.jpg.html

So I have included a pic of his LF hoof. as you can see his heels are close to ground. but considering he was walking on his heel, I will say there is visible improvement.[/QUOTE]

:eek: Your farrier has lots of work to do… that is a LOT of toe… That is so much I wouldn’t be doing anything out on terrain. I’d be concerned, as that’s a great way to aggravate a suspensory or bow a tendon. Has he bowed in the past? Glad he’s in your hands and thanks for the picture. Hopefully some of our hoof gurus can pop in now with their expertise.

[QUOTE=beowulf;8288886]
:eek: Your farrier has lots of work to do… that is a LOT of toe… That is so much I wouldn’t be doing anything out on terrain. I’d be concerned, as that’s a great way to aggravate a suspensory or bow a tendon. Has he bowed in the past? Glad he’s in your hands and thanks for the picture. Hopefully some of our hoof gurus can pop in now with their expertise.[/QUOTE]

I KNOW. HE KNOWS. He didn’t want to just go chopping his toes off though. He is a Journeyman Farrier and we LOVE him :love-struck. The shoes are aluminum with as little traction as possible to help eliminate friction so he can grow hoof without the shoe pulling his hoof off. We have a long way to go. But when he does go on trail he is limited to our main ones, which have nice footing and if there is a hill its not steep. For the most part he has been in arena to help with his sourness in there lol
To our knowledge, he has not had any bowed tendons.
SCARY PART- They had him on trial with a woman who was Paperchasing him like this. :eek: She took the shoes the farm had on him off and put her own set up on. The farm took him back in horror at his condition (weight lose and whole body rain rot, and his feet)
http://s1078.photobucket.com/user/clogan1206/media/11822735_981856598502417_694691809906835367_n.jpg.html
He is a real honest gentleman and we are just glad we are to help him and let him spend the rest of his life with us.

[QUOTE=trailrider2015;8288980]
I KNOW. HE KNOWS. He didn’t want to just go chopping his toes off though. He is a Journeyman Farrier and we LOVE him :love-struck. The shoes are aluminum with as little traction as possible to help eliminate friction so he can grow hoof without the shoe pulling his hoof off. We have a long way to go. But when he does go on trail he is limited to our main ones, which have nice footing and if there is a hill its not steep. For the most part he has been in arena to help with his sourness in there lol
To our knowledge, he has not had any bowed tendons.
SCARY PART- They had him on trial with a woman who was Paperchasing him like this. :eek: She took the shoes the farm had on him off and put her own set up on. The farm took him back in horror at his condition (weight lose and whole body rain rot, and his feet)
http://s1078.photobucket.com/user/clogan1206/media/11822735_981856598502417_694691809906835367_n.jpg.html
He is a real honest gentleman and we are just glad we are to help him and let him spend the rest of his life with us.[/QUOTE]

Sorry, wasn’t questioning your farrier’s knowledge… was just exclaiming in surprise as it was more toe than I expected. You’ll get there. I won’t even show the pictures of my gelding when he came off the track :wink:

[QUOTE=beowulf;8289016]
Sorry, wasn’t questioning your farrier’s knowledge… was just exclaiming in surprise as it was more toe than I expected. You’ll get there. I won’t even show the pictures of my gelding when he came off the track ;)[/QUOTE]
Oh I know. I was adding to the shockedness lol. First thing he said was,"…you like me having to come all the time don’t you." (Farrier picked him up for us, and came out next day to shoe him cause he didn’t want him be like that any longer)

[QUOTE=LarkspurCO;8287301]
Hilary Clayton’s carrot stretches.

http://equimed.com/health-centers/fitness-and-conditioning/articles/dynamic-mobilization-exercises-for-horses

There’s also a book on my wish list:

Activate Your Horse’s Core: Unmounted Exercises for Dynamic Mobility, Strength & Balance

Available here
http://www.sporthorsepublications.com/

And here:
http://www.amazon.com/Activate-Your-Horses-Core-Unmounted/dp/0974767018[/QUOTE]

Ooh, I didn’t know about the Core book and DVD and will put it on my wish list. I was also going to suggest “horse yoga” from the ground- belly lifts being a big one to assist the horse in developing topline muscle and supporting it with appropriate contributions from the abdominals. The rest of the bodywork in the first link (and I would add rump tucks to this as well) will also be beneficial in developing muscles and suppleness.

totally agreeing on the trot-poles and hill work. It’s working wonders on my gelding, he’s built extremely downhill and had a very weak back. He’s steady improved with pole work.

I’d suggest starting out with lunging in a large roundpen over a ground pole. Then slowly increase the amount of poles in a row until he can do 6-7 with no problem. I also found it helpful for my gelding to use a dressage whip when i lunge or ride him. Since he tends to string out and drop his back, just a light tap on his belly or on his croup (just a very light tickle) gets him to tuck his hindquarters under him and bring his belly up and round his back again.

Doing this a few times helps strengthen those muscles slowly without overdoing it :slight_smile: Within 2 weeks of lunging and doing the croup taps, his back muscles were actually starting to become visibly stronger and he’s been able to hold himself in a good self-carriage for a short period of time while riding now :slight_smile:

Just remember to take it slow and be patient. They can get tight and sore just like we do if the muscles are worked too far too fast.
Happy conditioning!