Have you ever stopped to wonder if your horse is getting enough exercise? If not, it might be time to evaluate your horse’s level of activity.
Just how much exercise does your horse actually need? The simple answer is daily. Horses that are able to move around throughout the day are generally healthier and happier. Those confided to a stall nonstop may exhibit signs of distress over time.
To delve a little deeper, daily movement keeps the lymphatic fluid and blood found in the legs circulating. Without some sort of routine activity, the legs may “stock up” by filling with fluid until he moves around.
The best form of exercise for your horse is actually slow, steady activity, which frequently occurs while he grazes in a large pasture. If the paddock is without grass, it is essential to spread the hay piles out. Horses won’t naturally move around for no reason.
When turnout is limited, regular exercise will be needed in the form of riding, lunging, or hand walking.
Keep in mind, other factors that determine the amount of exercise needed include the level of fitness you want for your horse,temperament and energy level, age, and the rider’s ability to commit to a routine schedule.
Treat your horse as an individual when you determine an exercise program that fits his needs and your goals. Your horse will be happy you did!
(Originally published in January 2017).