Ready For 2017?
With the lighter nights , warmer weather and for some of us a new season drawing closer it's essential that both you and your horse are ready for what 2017 may bring. Fitness: Ensuring your horse is fit enough for its work load is a number one priority. The hard work needs to begin now and needs to be slowly built up. All horses are individuals some may take longer than others. The current workload the horse is in and the ideal eventual peak fitness also needs to be taken into account.
a week through winter will be fitter than a horse who's had no work so both horses will start at different points in a fitness regime. The age, any previous injuries,medical conditions, previous workload etc will also effect the time and peak fitness of the horse. Many regimes can be found online although a good starting point is to begin with walk work for a week and slowly increase the work load each week adding trot work, canter work, schooling exercises, grid work, small jumps etc until it can be built up to longer sessions, training sessions, small competitions etc. Ultimately this is a long process and shouldn't be rushed, this prevents overworking the horse and decreases injury risks. Previous research states around 12 week to be able to do 40 mins schooling, 80-1m SJ rounds etc. The higher the work load the longer it will take to fitten the horse to this level. As a rider it's our job to also ensure we are fit enough to do our jobs correctly, there's no point having a horse capable of doing a novice BE event if your struggling after the first few jumps. There's lots of online work outs available some especially suited to equestrians, find one which suits you and stick at it! A personal trainer may also be a big help if you find it challenging to keep motivated.
Variety: keeping the horse interested is also essential , adding variety in your riding can make a big difference in performance.
Don't stay in the school just doing circles or jumping grids every day of the week. Mix things up , maybe try new things. There are lots of exciting things on the internet surrounding different schooling and jumping exercises and ensure you include hacking within your training plans. Hacking is a great way to keep your horse interested, it's great for fitness due to the different terrains and hills and schooling can be done while hacking as well as it being a great way to relax and connect with your horse. You can also try ground work exercises such as lunging and long reining, maybe try endurance or le trec. Ensure to include rest days, may be more at the start of training.
An example may be -
Monday: schooling: include leg yielding, turn on the forehand etc
Tuesday: grid work: start with poles, caveliti build up to bounce.
Wednesday: fast work: interval training over fields.
Friday: school and jump: simple schooling exercises followed by jump work.
Saturday:hacking: various gaits, hill work, long rein work etc
Sunday: lunging/ long rein.
Appearance: Personally I love the horsey make over from winter to summer.
A good tidy up can change the look of even the native fluffier types into stunning show ponies! Many will of already had or be due the last clip of winter and others ready to loose their masses of fur in clumps by the 1000. Either way the healthy , shiny summer glow makes any horse stand out. Manes and tails can be pulled, feathers trimmed , beards off and hoof oil on! The difference is impressive!
Have an amazing 2017, good luck and thanks for reading!