By Jamie Moe
As we come into the beginning of Spring, we’re also beginning to prepare our horses for show season. Inactivity, during Winter and colder weather, can affect your horse’s cardiovascular system and core stability muscles. This can leave your horse unfit for high-level performance. Did you know that on average, the timeframe for an appropriate springtime conditioning can take up to 6 weeks?
Conditioning programs should be aimed specifically towards the event that you will be competing in so you can best prepare your horse, and ensure a reduced risk of injury. Also take into consideration, the time frame that is needed to prepare your horse, so that he can perform at his highest level. I encourage at least 4-6 weeks of a steady conditioning program to achieve your appropriate fitness goals for performance. There is a large selection of tools, treatments and exercise techniques that can be used to help get your horse into top performance shape.
Here are a few tools and techniques I would recommend.
- Start with Exercise!
For the first week, begin with a slow-paced flat ground work exercise 3 times a week in 30 minute intervals. During weeks two and three, you should continue with this slow-paced exercise at 40 minute intervals. Be sure to finish each day’s work out with your choice of a callisthenic exercise (i.e. stretching, bending and ground poles). For the remaining 1-3 weeks, gradually begin a higher-paced exercise with a more difficult terrain, 4-5 times a week at 40 to 45 minute intervals.
Hydrotherapy has become one of the most requested and respected forms of conditioning in the equine industry. There are many benefits of Hydrotherapy for horses and equines, as it can be used both as a conditioning and rehabilitation tool. This treatment relieves stress on your horse’s joints, by lessening impact. Since the density of water is approximately 12 times greater than air, it provides great resistance, making it a great tool for improving your horse’s fitness.
- Red Light Therapy
Another hot commodity in the equine industry currently, is solarium treatment, or red-light therapy. Solariums are a system of large red lamps that give off infrared heat, which helps to improve your horse’s performance by increasing circulation. The lamps create a skin penetrating heat energy which aids in warm-up prior to exercise, and drying and loosening muscles after.
- Equisports Massager
One of the lesser known conditioning and treatment tools in the equine industry, may just be what we all need in our conditioning program! The Equisports Massager allows you to treat your horse to the luxury of a full body massage, without having to regularly call out the massage therapist. Equine Professionals worldwide are using this tool to help increase their horse’s performance. The massager provides a soothing, deep penetrating massage that can help increase blood flow to assist in rejuvenation of sore, tired, or tense muscles.
In closing, be sure that your goals are realistic! As awesome as it would be, we can’t get in shape overnight, and neither can your horse. Just remember that each horse is different, and not every tool or program is right for your horse. Consult your local equine veterinarian to decide which is right for your horse.