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How much work for a 5 year old?

4 replies

frostyfingers · 06/08/2013 17:15

My friend has a youngster she backed last year, it was shown in hand a few times last summer and gently hacked over winter 2012/2013. The horse went out on a loan with view to buying for 6 months in March. How much work do you think she should have been doing to bring her on? The intention is to have the horse mostly for dressage, some showing and general hacking.

Current regime involves being out 6 times a week - ridden in the school, lunged in the school, a couple of hacks and has also been learning to jump.

The reason I ask is that the horse has developed some "issues" according to the physio who has been out to see it and we want to know whether it could possibly be to due to overwork.

I have no experience of youngster so don't know whether this is likely but I am curious to know what amount of work is considered usual for this age horse?

OP posts:
Booboostoo · 06/08/2013 18:44

It depends on the horse and the discipline it's intended to work towards.

2 schooling sessions a week, plus 2 hacks, plus once on the lunge may be enough. The schooling sessions should have a long warm up period with a lot of long and low work, always forward thinking and fun for the horse. Hacks should also be fun and the horse can still work on a long outline to help build muscle. Work on the lunge should be contained, i.e. a good 10min walk warm up and no more than 20min work on the lunge in any one session.

However, a larger horse may take longer to mature than a smaller one, a horse with natural balance may progress faster than one that is struggling more to work correctly, a horse that becomes bored with the schooling may need more hacks and variety, etc.

What issues did the physio find? Some tension in the muscles is normal in that any athlete is likely to experience minor pains and aches that can be helped with physio treatment. Has a vet seen the horse? My first thought would be to get the vet out to eliminate any underlying issues.

I assume the horse has decent conformation and the rider is experienced in bringing on youngsters (if the latter is not the case, then the amount of work is not so much an issue but the type of work could cause problems, an inexperienced, unbalanced rider who cannot make the horse work effectively using its back end will not help the horse develop a top line which would in turn lead to other problems).

frostyfingers · 06/08/2013 18:51

She's hoping to do mostly dressage - the horse is 15h Welsh cross, confirmation wise she's a bit long in the back and the physio felt there was a problem in her neck, splenial muscles were mentioned, and she felt there was a stiffness on the right rein although her action was straight and she was tracking well. The physio only gave a diagnosis, but didn't say what remedial action was necessary (horse is on loan, loaner arranged physio and passed report to owner). Owner is taking the report to her vet for a translation and explanation of what the implications are - we were just wondering whether she was working a bit too hard too soon.

OP posts:
Booboostoo · 06/08/2013 22:51

All horses are naturally stiff on one rein rather than the other (like right and left handed people who find doing things with the dominant hand easier than the other). Horses in regular work do generally need a physio to check them over and release any tension. It doesn't sound like there is much to worry about there, but see what the vet says.

PeriodFeatures · 11/08/2013 08:00

People seem to think that to get the best out of a horse they need to undertaking what is basically a daily regime. If a horse becomes frustrated and unhappy in their work their natural enthusiasm and willingness for work 'switches off' and they become less engaged in what they are doing.

A 'switched off' horse will naturally be more inclined to developing problems. They need regular breaks at the beginning of their working lives especially and need to assimilate what they have learned rather than being overloaded with questions.

It's easy to tell when a horse has switched off. Look at the way it carries itself and look at it's eye.

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