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Working too hard


  I don't want to start a fight, but with the talk of people riding their
horses too hard, I started thinking a little more about how you can tell if
your horse is being ridden too hard.  I know a lot of endurancers ride
Arabians of all temperaments, but many horses get very high at a ride (or
just where there are a bunch of other horses, or when their stable mate runs
off ahead of them, or when a bull looks at them, or when....ok, I digress).
I've seem some horses (not at rides, since Longstreet was my first I don't
have a basis to say "at rides") run themselves into the ground.  In other
words, they will go until the rider tells them to stop, no matter what the
pace.  High Arabians seem to get into this mode quickly.

  So, since the rider must take charge in these instances, how can I (as the
rider) tell when my horse is working too hard?  Is audible panting a sign of
too much exertion? What about lowering his head even at a trot?  I know
heart rate has something to do with it, too, but short of owning a heart
rate monitor, it's hard to tell that from the back of a horse. (Besides, I
ride on EARTH would I keep a heart rate monitor on????  ;)  )

With my horse (Appaloosa gelding), he'll generally slow down or drop back a
gait (from canter to trot, trot to walk, walk to stop) when he's getting
fatigued, but on our ride, he showed little sign of fatigue until we were
done.  That is, on our second leg...The first leg was totally different.

Anyway, any guidelines of when the horse is being worked too hard?  I know,
in order to condition any horse for any work, you have to push the limits,
but how do you know when you've broken the limits and are on the verge of
ruining a perfectly good horse?

April & Apache (the "AA" team)  By the way, that's still tattooed to his
rear do I get that junk OFF?
Chattanooga, TN

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