Conditioning Your Horse


As Spring approaches, the show season is just around the corner.  Now is the time to consider a program to bring your horse to optimum condition considering your discipline of dressage, jumping or eventing.  It is critical to consider the age and amount of activity your horse has had in order to create an effective plan of conditioning.  Horses who are turned out need a shorter warm up than those standing in their stall or small paddock.  A progressive warm up allows time for the muscles to reach their optimal working temperature (during warm up the muscles rise by about 1 degree C) before increasing the excercise intensity.

After a warm up phase, move into the workout which pushes to horse just beyond his ability to build muscles and stamina.  It is important to work the trot and canter in an active rhythm, thus working the skeletal muscles hard enough to stimulate an increase in blood circulation.  The main objective is to achieve relaxation in all gaits.  Next should come the suppling excercises of lateral and bending movements.  Remember wet saddle blankets make good horses.

Finally, an important element of your conditioning is the warm down period.  This is a time to allow the horse to recover from the workout and helps him release muscular tension and possible soreness.  A walk on the long rein is a great finish to this workout.  Slowly build your horse back up to his optimal fitness, allowing several weeks to reach your goal.  Careful systematic training will help build solid muscles and a happy fit horse.