Happy hacker? Competiton prospect? Or even just a field ornament?
All horses can benefit from a bespoke fitness plan tailored to them no matter what there use.
There’s a common misconception that fitness plans require a lot of work and take a long time to complete each day, but in reality, this isn’t the case! Sure if you want to spend hours hacking each day that’s great but you don’t need to.
My horse Tye has bilateral hock arthritis and his fitness plan takes as little as only 5 minutes a day!!
How? I’ve created a plan that targets his areas off weakness… joint motion and flexibility… without overwhelming him or myself.
So where do you start?
If you’re completely new to fitness training why not book a vet physio session with us and we can design our fitness plan for you! (Yorkshire, UK based only). Book here www.fitpetphysio.com/book-online-1
Download our Complete Equine Fitness Guide here www.fitpetphysio.com/shop great for beginners or advanced
If you’ve done some training before or your horse is already in work here are some ideas of where to start.
Pelvic rounding exercises are used in horse's to increase movement of the spine and sacroiliac joint. They also help engage the core and hindlimb muscles leading to greater core strength and increased muscle mass.
Abdominal lifts stimulate the core muscles causing them to contract leading to an increase in core strength and a lift through the back. This allows the horse to carry themselves correctly and addresses reduced topline.
Increase flight arc of the hooves and range of motion and joint lubrication making your horse more flexible. Pole work also increases muscle mass and strength of the limbs and core.
Both caudal and lateral tail pulls can be used to shift weight between the hindlimbs and increase core strength. Caudal tail pulls directly backwards can also be a form of myofascial release relieving tension over the hind end freeing it up to work more effectively.
Work in a similar way to tail pulls but for the forelimbs. Increasing weight-bearing and core and postural strength.
In the equine community, a lot of weight is often put on the use of training aids. There’s often pressure to be using the ‘popular’ device at the time, however if used incorrectly training aids can cause more harm than good. If you’re unsure how to use a training aid speak with your instructor who can help you with use and your physio who will assess its suitability for your horse and fit it for you.
If you compete especially in dressage you’ll be familiar with backing up exercises. But even if you don’t, doing a few backward steps each day will help increase your horse's awareness of their hoof placement as well as increasing their hind end weight-bearing and strength.
One of the most common things I hear from equestrians is ‘How do I increase my horse's (insert body area here)?’. And my answer is almost always hacking with different surfaces and hills. This type of work is a full body work out and can be done ridden or in hand so really is suitable for all horses. This type of work increases joint motion, muscle mass and strength, core strength and stride length. What doesn’t it do right?!