Getting your horse fit for competing in style!

So January is over and done with, resolutions have been made and broken and now the time limit is real. If you need to get your horse fit and ready for the competition season ahead then now is the time to knuckle down and start the hard work.

If your horse has had complete down time over the festive period and start of the New Year then you need to be very thorough about your fitness plan. You also need to focus on what you are aiming for. If they have been in continued light work then it will be a shorter plan. Don’t forget though, consistency and planning ahead are all important. Ultimately if you want to be able to have a fit, healthy horse that comes into work injury free then you need to plan ahead and put the time in.

Getting out in the cold wet weather is no walk in the park. Keeping yourself warm and dry whilst you start on your horses fitness is just as important. The Tattini Ginestra breeches are ideal for getting back on board as they are lightweight and with moisture wicking technology they help to keep you comfortable.

Any fitness programme must be tailored to your horse; its age, breed, amount of work/rest prior to starting etc. Initially at least six to eight weeks is needed to start an unfit horse. Whether for jumping, eventing or dressage the basic principles can be the same and can produce a well rounded, well schooled fit and sound horse at the end of the programme.

Below is a possible fitness plan that can be used

This is a week by week guide. Remember each horse is different and you may have to adapt for your specific horses requirements.

Week One

Walk work, out hacking preferably on the roads, building up from half and hour to one hour each day by the end of the week. Purposeful walking, in a relaxed but correct balanced outline. This is vital and assists with strengthening tendons and ligaments crucial to long term soundness, as well as the muscles over the back and hindquarters.

Week Two

Introduce some trot work, including uphill bursts to take pressure off the front legs and to help increase hind quarter activity as well as cardio benefits. Short bursts of trot – not continuous especially when out on the roads.

Week Three

Introduce some schooling exercises alongside your road work and hacking but nothing too strenuous. Walk and trot work with some transitions as well as work with large circles in the arena.

Week Four

Canter work can be introduced, again build up time and frequency as the week progresses. Canter work out hacking and also in the school on large circles. Lunge work can be added if desired for variation.

Week Five

Schooling exercises can become more varied; circles, serpentine’s, transitions within the pace etc. Further hill work out hacking and increased trot activity, although still short bursts the frequency can be more regular.

Week Six

Whilst working in the school introduce pole work and on the flat some lateral work exercises. Build on the canter work. Hacking to continue.

Week Seven

Pole work can extend to jumping some small fences and grids. Hacking to continue. Schooling on the flat with exercises such as shoulder in and counter canter to improve muscle tone and aerobic fitness as well as for discipline.

Week Eight

Continue with your hacking and schooling and look to introduce some faster work e.g strong canter or gallop. Introduce competitions now and then build from here on in depending on your competition schedule.

Keeping yourself warm whilst you ride out is just as important and Selwood Equine’s range of jackets means you can choose from a large selection of styles, sizes and fits. The Prado is great for cold windy days with its light nylon padding and insulating duck down to keep you warm. It’s high neck design helps to keep the wind out too! If you are looking for a waterproof lightweight then check out the Tattini 100% waterproof in either navy or sky blue. High performance hi tech stretch fabric for a close comfortable fit as well as being 100% waterproof! Or maybe try the Tattini Hi-Tech Super comfort jacket, a stylish fitted jacket that is both lightweight and breathable.

Obviously there are variations on this fitness model but one of the main factors in getting a horse fit is consistency. You have to work at maintaining a fitness programme that is progressive and responsive to the horse itself. Sensible planning means avoiding injury and getting to your end goal successfully. There are many other factors to consider along side the fitness plan such as progressive increase of feed in relation to work load, equipment and saddlery checks as the horse changes shape, shoeing in response to work type, load and road work to mention but a few.

Here at Selwood we hope our blog today has been helpful for any of you riders out there getting abck on your horse after their winter holiday! Keep following us for our weekly blog and product updates – FB, Twitter, Google+ and on the website.

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