If you’re a regular rider, you’ll know the difference that a good fitness regime can have on the quality of your experience. Whilst horse riding has plenty of fitness benefits on it’s own, getting fit and healthy prior to riding means you’ll have improved posture, balance and endurance, along with a decreased risk of injury. While it’s important to get yourself fit before riding, however, it’s crucial that you make time to ensure your horse is regularly trained and ready for the riding season too. If you’ve been slacking on exercise lately and need to prepare a fitness plan for you and your horse, take a look at these great tips.
The stamina of you and your horse is an important part of riding. You’ll want to have the capacity to ride for lengthy amounts of time without tiring out or slowing down, and luckily there are some exercises that you and your horse can do to combat this.
Weight training is a good exercise for stamina, improving your strength and allowing you to do activities for extended periods of time. Other exercises such as jogging, walking or cycling can also benefit both your mental and physical stamina, and are also an easy activity to incorporate into your day.
Start to get your horse ready for riding by taking them for regular walks. If your horse hasn’t been very active in a while, begin with shorter walks of half an hour, steadily increasing the length of the walk up to about 2 hours. After walking your horse for 2 or 3 weeks, take them for rides in 15 minute intervals, before increasing to an hour. Doing this training should ensure your horse is prepared for a successful and healthy riding season ahead.
Adequate nutrition and diet should be a top priority for you and your horse before riding. Find out about some of the foods you should eat when it comes to keeping both of your health and energy levels high.
Weight gain can be bad for riding, making you feel sluggish and could possibly be hazardous to yours and your horse’s health and safety due to the extra weight. Make sure you’re eating well in preparation to riding your horse, with a balanced diet made up of plenty of healthy fats and protein for high energy levels and concentration. It’s also crucial to drink plenty of water in between riding to avoid dehydration, aiming for at least six to eight glasses a day.
Similar to yourself, a balanced horse diet is essential to keep your four legged friend fighting fit. An inappropriate diet could lead to your horse developing a range of negative health conditions, which could include colic, laminitis and obesity – among other things.
Ad-lib forage should be the foundation of all horses’ diets. However some animals are prone to overeating and gaining weight, so Regular Body Condition Score assessments will help you to monitor weight changes and take action to adjust their diet as necessary.
If your horse gains weight a lower calorie forage may be needed but never restrict it to less than 1.5% (dry weight) of his bodyweight per day, and speak to a nutritionist about adding balanced horse feeds to ensure he gets the intake of nutrients.
Flexibility plays a large role in performance when riding, particularly in the pelvis and hips. Prepare yourself and your horse for riding season with some useful, targeted stretches.
You’ve likely heard of the benefits that yoga can have on your flexibility and general health and wellbeing, but you might not be sure of the specific poses you can do to benefit your riding experience. Yoga poses that target your hips can work wonders at ridding your body of any tightness which can negatively impact your ability to ride. In the lead up to riding you should aim to do a couple of specialist yoga stretches a day, along with some simple quad, hamstring, lower back and neck stretches as part of your pre-riding routine.
A regular stretching routine is vital for your horse to prevent the risk of pulled muscles and improve circulation. Stretching can be done as part of your horse’s pre-ride warm up, and after rides to help the cool-down process. It’s important to remember to stretch your horse in an easy, relaxed way, avoiding excessive pressure on the muscles and joints and making sure they’re kept comfortable.