Every rider should strive for a fit horse. Through conditioning, your overweight horse can be transformed into a lean and healthy animal. They will be able to handle longer rides. It doesn’t matter if you’re an avid trail rider or barrel racer, your horse will need to be fit to keep up with your demands. Make sure your expectations are in line with their fitness level!
The best way to condition your horse and help them reach their optimal level is by developing a plan! Much like our own fitness, your horse will need to be introduced slowly to work. If rushed, they may develop an injury or become moody and resistant.
Here’s a sample six-week plan for the average horse.
Week 1: Walk your horse for 25 minutes. Once warmed up, try an active 5-minute trot.
Week 2: Walk your horse for 25 minutes and trot for 10 minutes.
Week 3: Keep your riding sessions around 35 minutes with 15 minutes of trotting.
Week 4: Ride for 35-40 minutes and include 15 minutes of trotting and 5 minutes of loping.
Week 5: Stick with 40 minutes of riding- 20 minutes of trotting and 10 minutes of loping.
Week 6: Increase your rides up to 45 minutes with a mix of trotting and loping.
By week three, your horse should be able to handle some obstacles. They can include going up and down a small hill, ground poles and lateral movement. Your riding sessions don’t have to be limited to arena work, but make sure the terrain is relatively flat until your horse builds up stamina.
It’s better to go slow and condition your horse over a few weeks time. Their body will appreciate that!