Man, the winter just drags on in Colorado. I wish that every horse owner had access to an indoor arena so that they could be completely ready for the competitive season. Unfortunately, they don’t. If you don’t have an indoor arena, you’ve still got to find a way to get your horse conditioned for the season.
This is April 12. The serious competitive season generally kicks off around Memorial Day. That’s six full weeks! If your horse is a healthy performance animal with last year under his / her belt, than six weeks is plenty of time, provided the weather allows.
On dry, good weather days, a long, slow ride is a great way to start strengthening your winter grazer’s legs and joints. Tendons and ligaments need conditioning more than muscles do, and they injure easily if not properly prepared for dynamic loading.
Now is a good time to sit down and design a plan for the next six weeks. It can be simple. First, some long walks. Then add some walk, trot. Then add some sport specific exercises (easy barrel patterns, figure 8’s, serpentines) etc. Maybe plan a trail ride with some friends in mid May, followed by a friendly competitive event with your friends at the end of May to blow the dust off of your hat.
This might sound like a real baby fitness program, but lots of people unload their horse for the July 4 event without any planning and end up with a lame horse. I assure you that your horse will be more willing and have a healthier season if you just give it a chance.
Now might be a great time to buy my book, The Fit Horse Companion!
Have a GREAT season! --- Kathy D.
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