So winter is nearly over, the evenings are getting lighter for longer and the sun is finally shining so here are our top tips on how to get your horse fit for the season ahead and stay injury free. It doesn’t matter what discipline you compete in: Dressage, Show Jumping or Eventing, your horse will need to be fit enough to do its job.
Every horse is different and depending on what level you compete at will dictate how much exercise your horse will need. To help build up stamina and strengthen muscles a combination of hacking, schooling and jumping is great. Always warm up your horse up well with a marching walk before any strenuous exercise. When we go out hacking we have to ride on roads, tracks and in fields to get from A to B which is brilliant practice for the different surfaces you may end up competing on at different venues and it is good for your horses balance. Walking and trotting up hills is great for stamina too.
When you are schooling start off with some short, light schooling sessions & gradually increase the length and difficulty. Do something different every time you school to make sure that you are giving all his muscles a workout and not the same ones all the time. Keep your horse interested by using poles and lunging to add some variety into your schooling. If you are lucky enough to have a horse walker they are great for exercise if you haven’t got time to ride. If you don’t have an arena don’t worry, you can school just as well out on a hack as you can in the arena. We are lucky enough to live near a 3 mile long sandy beach, so we regularly hack there, school on the sand and hack back. If you are jumping you don’t need to jump big. Pole and grid work is very beneficial for your horse as it helps with rhythm, suppleness & straightness. Always make sure that you walk your horse down after any exercise so that he can cool off and stretch his back muscles so that they don’t become tight and stiff Remember to give your horse some relaxation time out in the field, especially when they are working hard. We always give our ponies 2 days off a week. Most importantly have lots of fun and good luck for the season ahead!!🥳