Everyone wants to keep their horse happy and healthy for as long as possible. It can be a balancing act keeping your horse fit, without over doing it and causing him harm.
Worried you might be overtraining?
Tina Sederholm helps you spot the signs in your horse…
Excessive blowing after hard work
An unfit horse will blow a lot for an extended time if you work him hard. A fit horse should recover to fairly normal breathing within 10 minutes of his workout.
If he blows for longer, and especially if he pants, he may have a respiratory problem or anaemia. Check this out with a vet before you do any more serious work.
Significantly sore muscles or stiffness
This is a sign that you worked your horse a bit too hard for his level of fitness. Allow him time to recover and then drop your programme back a level, until he can cope.
A regular massage or chiropractic treatment every month to six weeks is a good idea, even if he has no obvious problems – it may nip them in the bud.
Learn how to massage or do stretches with him if you need to save money.
Dull and listless after a big workout
Once a horse is fit, your conditioning work can be reduced. If your horse has been in work for a long time and he doesn’t bounce back after a ‘stress’ day, you need to reduce his work, or give him a mini-break, so that he can recover mentally and physically.
Coat loses its shine and is dry- looking
If your horse sweats a lot, or you are working him in hot weather, look out for dehydration. He will need electrolytes to be added to his diet, ideally before he gets dehydrated, but it is easy to get caught out in our unpredictable climate.
I keep a course of electrolytes handy, so I can use them straight away. You also need to keep an eye on how much your horse is drinking.
As a general rule, a horse in proper work drinks 10 to 15 gallons of water a day, and make sure that not only is this available to him, but that it is clean. A horse will rarely drink stale water, even if he is desperate.
About Tina Sederholm
Tina Sederholm is a top riding trainer and author, who has evented to international level.