Spring has finally sprung here in the UK!! It has felt like a long winter, and I imagine all horse owners are now planning what they might want to do with their horses this summer (me included!)!
So I just wanted to write a post with a few tips and ideas for things to consider with your horse as you start to increase their exercise this Spring.
I like to consider and talk about injury prevention, and all of the ways that we can strengthen and correct our horses body and movement, to protect them from injury and breakdown, in particular during the 'bringing back into work' or rehabilitation phases.
During these phases, the horses body is going through change, and adapting to a new level of exercise, so can get tired, sore muscles etc, and this can lead to slight postural changes such as tightening in the back, which we don't want.
So some considerations as you start to increase your horses exercise...:
1. Make a plan! Might sound basic, but making a few notes in your diary each week, and making a simple exercise plan, will help you to be consistent, but not over load your horse.
2. Spend 6-8 weeks getting your horse from A to B on your plan! Don't rush it - this is where injuries can occur due to over-doing it.
3. Increase exercise slowly and progressively...this helps to prevent injury.
4. Cross train if appropriate for your horse...meaning do different types of exercise each week with your horse, including some non-ridden work in particular.
5. Is your horse fit/strong enough to do what you are asking?? Important question! If your horse has been off work all winter, is he strong enough to carry you around a 2 hour hack? Or does he need some preparation work?
6. Think of your horses return to work as you would yourself...you wouldn't start day 1 of an exercise plan going for a 2 hour run!! You would have to build up to it!
7. I'm a massive fan of walking with horses, it's low impact and you can achieve a lot in the walk, so spend time in walk for your first few weeks if needed, and give them the time to adapt to exercising again.
8. Consider your horses posture, it can tell you everything about them! Stand back from your horse and spend time to look at their posture, do they look strong in their back and core, or weak and lacking muscle? These are important questions to help guide you.
9. Add in core strengthening exercises to your daily routine to help switch on and strengthen your horses core as you increase their exercise, so that they are strong enough to carry you!
10. Work on the problem areas! Whether it's fitness, core strength, endurance, flexibility, crookedness, stiffness, lack of topline muscle, it might sound obvious, but tackle the problem areas!
If you do what always did, you will get what you always got....very useful phrase to remember with horses training!
Stepping back to look at the horses body and movement, taking our own wants and needs out of the equation, and putting a plan together to actually tackle our horses strength, fitness, and capability to ultimately do what we would like, are all important steps to take at this point when we are increasing exercise or bringing our horse back into work.
I hope this post has given you a few ideas, basically take your time with your horse, they really are very precious and often not strong enough to do the work being asked of them as the prep work hasn't been done first.
***One of the key steps I add in to clients horses exercise regime, is daily Core Exercises - they really are super helpful for your horse, in terms of switching on core muscles prior to exercise, and helping to improve posture, movement, flexibility, symmetry, and taking the weight out of the forehand!
If you're ready to start learning these exercises, my starter course is available here, with instant access so that you can get started today! CLICK HERE: Core Exercises Course
AND if you need any other help with your horse, I will always do my best to help or guide you, you can contact me through the 'Contact' page on my website.
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