Horse Barrel Horse
© 1999 Cherry Hill
My little girl is 11, she's been riding
for about two years. This spring she started barrel racing and pole bending. Her
horse is a 22 year old mare. She is fairly sound just a little slow but
a good beginner's horse. My question is how much should we ride her each week.
Right now we do slow work twice a week and 5 minutes long trot 4 times a week
finishing with a slow trail ride. She seems to do all right plus she appears to
have slimed down and looks nice. I just don't want to wear out our horse. I know
very little about horses but we love learning and we ask a lot of questions!
Thanks for your time. Eric
What you outline
for the 22 year old mare's exercise program sounds fine as long as the mare is
staying sound. However, you didn't mention how much barrel racing or work
at a lope was included in the exercise program.
If you keep the mare's hooves well trimmed and/or shod (every 6 weeks) and pay
attention to changes in her gait or behavior, she should be OK and you can increase
exercise time at the walk and trot. If a horse is sound and in condition
(fit), you should be able to ride the horse at a walk and trot for several hours
a day every day.
The problem comes in with
barrel racing and pole bending. These events require loping and turning
at speed, both which can lead to muscle sprains and joint strains. All older
horses have some degree of
arthritis and you do not want to increase the
chance of soundness problems. If you want your older horse to be comfortable
and "last", use her for more "straight forward" and less strenuous
activities such as trail riding or pleasure work in the arena at a walk and trot.
Be sure you know what is "normal"
for your horse's legs in terms of heat, texture, filling, and sensitivity so you
can tell when something is "brewing". Learn how to perform a daily
vital signs and leg check. These are covered in detail in my book, Horse
Take care of
your good senior mare. Good luck and thanks for writing,