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Re: [RC] getting the horse fit. - Barbara McCrary

Melanie, I'm conditioning a 6 1/2 year old Arab right now.  He was a virtual flat-lander in his previous home.  Young horses have trouble coming downhill, because it takes a lot of strength in the hindquarters to make a smooth and relaxed descent.  It takes months, perhaps years if the horse is started on the trail at, say, 4 years old.  As I remember from trail training several young Arabs over the years that a horse is nearly 7 before he is a GOOD downhill horse (unless, I suppose, he was raised on hills).  And be sure to check things like saddle pressure on the shoulders or girth pinching behind the elbow.  I had saddle issues until I found just the right saddle for my current young horse, then on Sunday we did a lot of steep downhill and I could tell he was uncomfortable on downhills near the end of the ride.  I checked behind his elbows and found the hair worn off.  He looked like he might have had rubbed skin.  He's a chestnut, and they have more sensitive skin than a bay or grey with black skin.  I'm going to try either a cinch cover of fleece or a neoprene girth, instead of the string girth I was using.
Barbara McCrary
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, February 02, 2003 8:13 PM
Subject: [RC] getting the horse fit.

Stagg I am really enjoying the posts you are sending to ridecamp. I am getting a 6 yo Morgan mare ready for her first 25 miler. We are doing great 'cept for downhills. She does a pacy shuffle that is real bouncy and I can't help but wonder if it is hard on her front legs. I am able to get her on her hind but she still sort of "dances" in front on downhills too light. Is she too much on her hind? How can a downhill walk be flatter instead of the footfall being 1-2-3-4  they come down like 1-2  3-4 if that makes any sense. (BTW she does a singlefoot on the flat.) I'm posting this question to ridecamp.

Melanie Snowhite
Poway, CA.

[RC] getting the horse fit., Sundaez