In this post I want to discuss baseline fitness on your horse. It doesn't matter what sport you choose to take part in with your horse, they should be fit enough for the job they need to do. Obviously different sports require different fitness levels as for example racing has different fitness requirements to dressage, and endurance different requirements to polocrosse! Not to mention every other imaginable horse sport in between!!
It is not fair on your horse to pull him out of the paddock once a month, then sit on him and ask him to perform for you at any level for any period of time. I would say that this kind of horse has the physical fitness that would allow him to undertake a very small amount of work, like potentially a walk and trot for a 1/2 hour. If that is all you desire then that would be suitable. However, most of us like to use our horses more often than this or for a longer time period, potentially at higher speeds. So we need to be fair and adjust their training and increase their fitness so as to suit their job.
One little article is not going to be able to cover each discipline.
Firstly, the reason that you want to get some baseline fitness for your horses is so that they can recover faster from activity, prevent injury and enjoy their work more!
If your horse has been out of work for some time, you obviously want to bring it back into work slowly. Think of it like you would yourself. If you haven't exercised for sometime then go and do a strenuous workout you are likely to be sore the next day. If you are really sore it means that you were not fit enough for that activity. That is not to say that you should maybe be a bit sore as you build your fitness level, but you definitely shouldn't suffer from extreme fatigue or lactic acid build up in the muscles. Then you wouldn't want to go and do it again! It is similar with the horse. If they get sore, they wont want a repeat performance anytime soon - and then you will likely have trouble catching your horse and end up with a horse that is sore and 'sour'.
I am in the business of having horses pain free and happy!
So the long and the short of it all is that you can bring you horse back to a reasonable level of fitness if you do it slowly and sensibly... I also know that what I am saying sounds a lot like 'common sense', but, as common sense as it may be it is still a common question that I answer when out working on pleasure horses.
I have found that to give you a baseline fitness program it would be much easier for you to send it to your email that you can easily print off and have with you. If you would like to know how I bring a horse back into work in a happy and pain free way then just click here and I will send you the cheat sheet!
No matter what I want you to have fun with your horses and have you both enjoy your rides!