Updated: 2 days ago
One of the biggest challenges I faced this year with my horse was creating a good exercise plan to get her in shape. There are a lot of plans available on the internet but genreally speaking, they are for getting your horse competition-ready. What about those of us who want a healthy horse but don't have a lot of time every day to work with our horses?
My main guide this time was out of the BHS complete manual of horse and stable management. There is a section in there that outlines an exercise plan to get your horse competition-ready from being in the field. It's a six week plan that's quite intensive but also assumes, you have a lot of free time. The end goal is to exercise your horse twice a day, for an hour each time. Obviously that doesn't include time for all the other horsey stuff you have to get done.
There were a couple of major reasons that wouldn't work for me. One, I don't spend my entire day with my horse (as much as I'd love to) and two, that programme was too intensive for her. My goal in the end was to slowly build up until we exericse for forty minutes every day. When we started, it seemed like forty mintues might not even be possible but I'm pleased to say, it's going really well for us! We might increase it later on, but for now, it's a good amount of exercise.
So here's how a typical session goes:
- 10 minute walk around the field to warm up
- 5-10 minutes walking over poles to warm up the joints and teach her to pick up her feet.
- 4 minutes of trotting on the lunge (we started with 30 seconds each way, now we do 1 minute trotting, rest, 1 minute trotting, rest, change reins and repeat). This takes a little longer than 4 minutes, it's more like 8 minutes
- 5-10 minutes trotting poles or canter
- 5-10 minute cool down, walking around the field
That plan works perfectly for us as it gives her a chance to really build up her muscles, get a little sweaty, without pushing her too hard. It gives us room to practice different exercises but mostly, it doesn't allow for any one exericse to get boring.
By slowly building up her strength and stamina, we can progress to ridden work which would then open the door to a lot more exercises we could try out. For now though, our prioity is building up her muscle with a good exercise plan.
Don't forget, you can follow our progress here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMnwSNdE-aBGp9qs-mmPxwA