With spring approaching, your horse is probably rearing for you to get back on––literally––while you are raring to go. Whether it’s a new horse or one that has been on winter break, you’ll have to design a program to help get your horse in optimal shape.
Yes, that’s even if you were using a horse exerciser to keep your horse fit in winter.
So, how do you work on horse fitness before you can put your horse back into shape for competitions, events, or work?
1. Always Warm-Up Your Horse Properly
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to ask your horse for too much too soon. This could lead to avoidable injuries that will cost you time and, most importantly, your horse’s health.
That’s why you must always warm-up your horse—the right way.
A good warm-up will help your horse gradually reach its optimal physiological state safely and faster. A good warm-up routine is dependent on how dormant your horse has been and how old it is. For example, longeing and long reining for 20-30 minutes five times a week is excellent for warming up your horse. Just make sure to do so at a pace that won’t over-exert your horse.
2. Use a Horse Exerciser
Another great way of getting your horse into optimal shape is by using a horse exercise machine. The biggest advantage of a horse exercise machine is that it allows you to keep your horse’s fitness levels good throughout the year. For example, regular walks, trots, or lopes during winter will ensure that your horse maintains a good level of fitness.
Because you set the exercise machine to different speeds, you can also use it for your regular horse training exercises. Remember to pace your horse and increase the duration or intensity of your training sessions by a maximum of 5% every week until your horse reaches its optimal fitness level.
A horse exerciser will help you develop good cardiovascular fitness for your horse, priming it for more rigorous training.
3. Monitor Diet and Nutrition
Of course, we can’t talk about horse fitness without touching on their diet. After all, horses are what they eat.
The amount of food your horse requires is dependent on several factors, such as its size, temperament, and condition. For example, if your horse puts on some weight during winter, you need to implement a diet that will help with weight loss. However, always consult with a nutrition specialist before training begins to determine your horse’s specific dietary needs.
4. Run Consistently
Especially if your horse hasn’t been very active during the winter months, you’ll want to get him back into shape by consistent running. Horses thrive on routine, so try to make sure you create a regular schedule for your runs. Of course, the distance and intensity will depend on your horse’s age and fitness condition.
5. Do Hill Work
Another routine you must incorporate into your conditioning schedule is hill work. This helps condition the muscles in the hindquarters and other muscles the horse rarely uses. Make sure to keep your horse from trotting or jogging, as this won’t be as effective.
6. Consult with a Vet
Before you put your horse into a training regimen, make sure to have a vet look it over. This will help you determine the overall health and fitness condition of your horse. This vital information will help design a conditioning regimen specifically designed for your horse.
Key Benefits of Using a Horse Exerciser
We’ve mentioned the use of horse exercisers several times, but what exactly are the advantages you get from them? Here are the top 4:
- They help with cardiovascular fitness.
- They can be used throughout the year.
- You can exercise several horses at once.
- They offer free moving exercise.
If these, and more, benefits of horse training equipment sound like something you’d want for your horse, call us at (352) 737-6743. We’ll help you get your horse in perfect shape.