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Re: [RC] Feeding and training the overweight pony - Kate Jackson

Rarely do I wade in on ridecamp but this is a subject I am familiar with. I too had an overweight pony that I had to take weight off and wanted to compete limited distance.
He was @200lbs overweight when I bought him. I was able to take the weight off and get him fit and keep him in the right condition by careful management. I started conditioning in the fall and was able to compete him the following spring BTW he's a Haflinger draft pony that's 23 yrs old now and still at the proper weight and is sound.
First: I want to caution that overweight equines diets needs to be carefully managed. Too drastic of a change can have undesired affects. Remember the 10% rule, never change an equines diet by more than 10%. I prefer to make changes gradually over a couple of weeks. Cut the concentrates first, this horse does not need them. Cut the high powered Orchard grass next and substitute your timothy.
Secondly: Training. If this horse was sooo tired at 5 miles you went way too far. I started out with 2 miles. A mile out and a mile back all at the walk. I was on a 4 work day a week program for the first month. I alternated ground work one day @ a half hour of walk trot on the lunge or in a round pen with a ride the next day. I started working the trot, from the ground, the second week. All my saddle work was done at the walk for the first three weeks. As I understand it a horse uses more muscles at the walk than any other gait. I would lengthen the ride by 5 minutes every third ride. I knew it was safe to add the trot under saddle when my pony wanted to take off on the way home. It was then I added short spurts of trot work under saddle. Trot a minute walk five minutes and increase from there. The next step was to find someone to ride with. It's amazing how much better they perform if they have occasional company to "compete" with. The whole theory I am per posing is start slow, keep it fun, increase gradually and you will have a wonderful controlled horse. If you have hills, walking up hills as your pony gets in better shape, adds another dimension to it's training. Right now what you are asking the pony to do is like taking a couch potato human, slapping a 50lb back pack on them and asking them to march 5 miles. I don't think anyone would enjoy that. I hope this helps. Keep the list updated on your progress. Good luck and have fun!   Kate J.

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