Riding An Older Horse Barrel Horse

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Senior Horse Barrel Horse

  1999 Cherry Hill       www.horsekeeping.com

Hi Cherry:
    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


Hi 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 Health Care.

     Take care of your good senior mare.  Good luck and thanks for writing,

  2004 Cherry Hill

 

 

 

 

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