Training TipBringing a Horse Back Into Shape After Time Off
Work, family, injuries, busy schedules, travel, daylight - all can be reasons our horses get a planned or unplanned time off from riding. When its time to step back in the saddle, some care and good plan will help prevent injury or training misunderstandings.
Get them fit to work again, starting sessions of either groundwork or round pen exercise. Lungeing can get a horse's body fit, but does little for his mind, so try to make the work engaging by adding change of direction, obstacles like ground poles, navigating hills or using a Lunge N' Slide to encourage your horse to use more of his mind and body.
Keep it short. Start small and plan to bring your horse back into work over a period of a week or more. Five or ten minutes can be a perfectly adequate way to start, building up as fitness improves.
Evaluate your horse's body condition. We all feel better working out when we have some muscle to us right? Your horse is the same. If he's a little flabby around the middle, thin or otherwise in less than best condition, make an effort to bring his nutrition along to an appropriate level for his upcoming period of work. A good ration balancer, some alfalfa can both go strides for building muscle. Here's a great source of free nutrition advice.
- Repeat the pattern in the saddle. Once you saddle up and climb aboard, be sure to go through the same incremental approach to getting your horse back in work. Start with short sessions, supplying and straight lines and move on as the days go by to increased difficulty of time, duration, speed and maneuver complexity.