Longer days and warmer weather are on the horizon. I don’t know about you, but it makes me want to pull out the saddle and go for a ride! The important thing to remember, is that your horse needs to be conditioned before you expect too much from him. Getting him fit will build his stamina and lower his risk of injury. Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to riding all the time!
Steps to Follow:
1. Give your veterinarian a call to confirm your horse is ready for conditioning.
2. Schedule an appointment with your farrier to give your horse a fresh trim or put shoes back on.
3. Speak with a nutritionist to adjust food intake for a horse in work.
4. Consider adding supplements, or minerals, if necessary.
1st Week: Try to limit your rides to short sessions and no more than 3 hours per week. Light work in the beginning is ideal.
2nd/3rd Week: Build up to 3-5 hours per week. You can start incorporating short canters, small hills, and leg yields by the end of the 3rd week.
4th Week: If your horse has responded well, then you can consider longer rides of 60 minutes. 5 hours per week with increasing demands is a pretty intense workout schedule.
Know Your Horse’s Vitals:
Your horse’s normal vitals should be around 98-101 degrees Fahrenheit for his temperature, a heart rate of 32-40 BPM, and a respiratory rate of 8-20 breaths per minutes.
The maximum they should ever be when exercising:
Temperature: 103 degrees Fahrenheit
Heart Rate: 200 BPM
Respiratory: 80-100 breathes per minute
Your horse’s heart rate should return to normal much faster once he is fit.
Your horse will reap a ton of benefits by ditching the hay belly and working out. You’ll notice increased muscle and tendon strength and improvement in bone quality, red cell volume, and oxygen uptake. Start with frequent, short workouts that are low intensity, and over time you’ll see the improvement.