Spring is in the air; which means here comes the challenge of getting our horses back into shape. If you live in a state that has a very cold winter, chances are that even if you have an indoor arena, you are taking some small breaks during the frigid cold of winter time.
It may be tempting to jump on your horse and go for a long ride the minute you feel the warmth of spring in the air, but it’s likely that you’ll need to bring him into the new season with caution.
Take the time to create a workout plan that’s specific to each horse and considers factors such as age, weight, normal workout frequency, and amount of time the horse has had off. For a safe approach, start your horse off with incremental increases in length or difficulty of work on a five-day cycle. This means start light and gradually increase the intensity of the work every five days.
This will give your horse’s body time to accommodate to the new intensity before moving to the next level. As you build on conditioning, increase either duration of time in the saddle or speed, but never both at the same time. Always keep in mind to monitor your horse’s legs for signs of stress, such as lameness, swelling, or pain.
During this process, keep in mind that since your horse is out of shape and will need to be brought back into condition gradually, if you push things too fast your horse could get injured. As always, a horse’s general health should be checked before any fitness work begins; such as vaccines, dentistry, shoeing, and worming, if necessary.
Get your horse back into shape safely:
1. Have your farrier come out
Have your horse's hooves trimmed and shod, if necessary.
2. Check your saddle fit
As your horse loses condition, the shape of his back can change.
3. Wear protective equipment
Always be safe when returning to routine work; keep your helmet on.
4. Do a lot of walking work and low stretching
Start “low and slow,” as they say it.
5. Gradually introduce more challenging activities
Introduce new exercises with patience.
6. Monitor your horse
Keep an eye on the soundness of your horse.
Preventing and Maintaining Soreness:
As with any work, horses tend to be prone to soreness at this time. There are a plethora of products to help you get a head start, but it’s important to find brands that you trust. For fast relief of sore muscles and joints, incorporate a few sprays of Sore No-More’s Performance Ultra Liniment, a clinically-backed liniment proven to help reduce deep tissue and soft tissue discomfort, and improve the performance of equine athletes. It’s safe to use under tack and before and after rides to help soothe and prevent pain.
With all these tips in mind, you’re sure to have a successful transition back into warm-weather workouts.