The change into springtime could mean that many horse riders are gearing up for their adventures during a new season of competition. With the impending events, riders might be thinking about setting out some training goals for the months ahead in order to get the most out of the season. Whatever your aims are, it could be important that your horse has the right level of fitness to meet the demands of your chosen activity. At The Insurance Emporium, we want you and your horse to have a successful time in the arena or on the trail! That’s why we asked our horse health expert for some advice on getting fit for the months ahead!
Elite equine athletes
Horses can be incredible athletes, capable of competing in an array of different disciplines. They are also able to undergo significant adaptation as a result of training, meaning that the right regime could be essential for your equine. The correct work can see changes to the musculoskeletal, cardio, respiratory and thermoregulatory systems of a horse. They are one seriously adaptable animal! You might want to tailor your training specifically to the discipline that is being performed. This may help to minimise the risk of injury and health problems and also maximise performance. It could be a good idea to discuss your horse’s individual requirements with an equine physiotherapist in order to strike the right balance for your regime.
Don’t fail to prepare!
Starting a new fitness programme could be the perfect time to check that your horse is up to date with their vaccinations, worming, farriery and dentistry. Further to this, making sure that you’ve checked all of the tack, paying particular attention to ensuring that it fits correctly, could save your horse from picking up any injuries during training. Having a chiropractor give your equine a good check before getting physical could be another way to limit the risk of injury. Just as you wouldn’t want to be thrown straight into a marathon, any fitness programme for equine should be introduced gradually, with the type of work dependent on the individual horse and their baseline level of fitness.
Not horsing around!
Training can be divided into aerobic and anaerobic activities. Aerobic exercise requires oxygen, so training in this manner can improve the efficiency of the cardiovascular system in delivering this oxygen as well as the effectiveness of the muscle when using it. In contrast, anaerobic exercise is more direct and can provide the rapid delivery of energy to help brief periods of intense exercise. For example, distance running is aerobic exercise and weight lifting is anaerobic, but getting your horse lifting weights in the gym is most definitely not advised! In many competitive riding disciplines, aerobic exercise might be the most important type and therefore forms the basis of a training programme.
Set phases to stun!
For a horse that has been rested over the winter, a basic fitness programme might consist of three phases that could be spread over ten to twelve weeks. Phase one might last around four weeks and involve walking, followed by the gradual introduction of slow trot and some hill work. Traditionally, this phase was considered important to strengthen the horse’s limbs, tendons and ligaments. The second phase could last for a similar length of time and introduce schooling and hacking. You might gradually introduce pole and canter work at this point, as well as considering the introduction of jumping. During this stage you could start to increase the length of time cantering and making use of hill work. The final phase might be to introduce some sprint exercises and consider using interval training techniques. It’s important to remember that all horses are different and, as such, have varied training needs.
For horse riders and owners, the start of the competition season might be one of the most exciting times of the year. Following this simple guide when starting your training could help keep your horse healthy and get the most from your adventures this season! Happy hacking!
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