Performance Horses - Keeping them fit

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What do event horses, showjumpers, dressage horses, endurance horses, and reining horses all have in common? Behind every top competitor are hours and hours of conditioning work. Conditioning your sport horse is important for any successful career, even if you never see the inside of a show ring. Conditioning means that you develop your horse’s body to a point where it can safely meet the demands that everyday work requires of it. Done correctly, conditioning results in a healthy equine athlete. Determine Your Horse’s Needs The goal of and plan for your conditioning program will depend entirely on your horse’s job and performance level. Event horses, which are required to gallop for miles and jump many solid obstacles, have different conditioning needs than those of reining horses, who perform agile, tight moves at a fast speed for just a few minutes at a time. Give thought to the exact level of fitness that your horse will need. If your horse is a showjumper, what level is he competing at? If your showjumper is only in the beginning stages of his career and is jumping small fences, you will not perform the same amount of conditioning that you would on your Grand Prix showjumper who competes over much larger fences.
Make a Plan with Your Vet Before you begin a conditioning regimen, discuss it with your veterinarian. Your vet will have a good sense of any physical issues your individual horse has which could interfere with or be worsened by a conditioning program. A vet can make recommendations about your goal for the program and can identify any issues he may foresee, possibly helping you to avoid injuries and setbacks down the road. Your veterinarian can also make recommendations about your horse’s feed and nutritional needs during the conditioning. As you increase his athletic activity, your horse will need more calories to maintain adequate body weight and energy levels. Your vet might suggest changing to a horse feed with higher protein and energy values.
Go Slow and Steady Never leap right into a high-intensity conditioning workout; with conditioning, slow and steady is the way to go. Start with workouts which are in keeping with your horse’s current fitness level and gradually progress from there. Use a variety of physical activities to build your horse’s condition. Riding, hand walking, and lunging are all great ways to condition your horse. Be sure to include regular veterinary care, chiropractic work, and even massage work to keep your horse in top physical shape through the conditioning program. Always consider the number of times that you are working your horse in a week. Try to spread the workouts out throughout the week; you cannot adequately condition a horse by only working him two days a week, and it is unkind to do so. Instead, build up your horse’s fitness by working five to six days a week, and give him days off or less-intense workouts after particularly intense days. No matter if you ride dressage horses, endurance horses, showjumpers, event horses, or reining horses, they can all benefit from a well-planned and managed conditioning program. TOPHORSE–browse horses for sale or place an ad to sell horses.
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