With Spring not too far away, whether it’s dressage, showjumping, eventing or showing it is important to have a good training routine to make sure your horse is able to perform their best on the day. Fitness, turnout and feeding are all equally important in making sure your horse is ready for any competition. These tips are general and can be used in training in any discipline.
Turnout: We all want our horses to look their best one show day. Make sure if you are clipping your horse it isn’t left to late, as this can affect the growth of the summer coat. Once clipped remember to get your blades sharpened so they are nice and sharp for the next winter.
If your horse has any rubs or bald patches, start to rub coconut oil on the affected areas (not on broken skin!) as this will help hair re-growth. Make sure coming into spring you make some time for good grooming sessions, to get out the build up in the coat. The Eqclusive HAAS packs are amazing for this and I wouldn’t be without mine!
Feeding: Personally I do not change feed throughout the year that much, but this time of year is a good time to think about how your horses condition and temperament might change when the spring grass comes through and feed accordingly. The important thing with changing any feed routine is that it is done slowly so as not to disrupt the horses digestive system.
If you plan to up your training sometimes a good supplement such as Global Herbs restore or Horse First Back to Form, both help with the changing seasons and keep eyes bright and restore iron levels. These only need to be used in the transition of seasons i.e Winter to Spring but can be fed all year round too.
Training: With the lack of light we still have in the evenings at the moment it can be difficult to fit a well rounded exercise routine in. That is why it is important to make every session as effective as possible. This does not mean rushing as warm up and cool down periods are very important in cold weather. Hill training and Interval training are good ways of increasing fitness for all disciplines, for example my boy now mainly does dressage but he will go to the gallops as often as I can take him to have a good stretch and build up stamina.
Make sure you are also keeping fit, the horse can’t be the only one in training! Pilates and Yoga are great for core strength while running and cycling are great for cardio. Try some new exercises with your horse. When training at home this is the place to try something a little more difficult or challenging as it gives you a relaxed environment to correct and perfect without the stress of being at a competition.
The goal of good training is to have a horse that knows his/her job and is confident in what the rider is asking them to do. The more training you can fit in the better the communication between horse and rider becomes and more harmonious the relationship. This may sounds obvious but the few months before the competition season really kicks in is a great time to put the hours in, in the school, in lessons, clinics, hacking etc to really get your horse ready physically and mentally for a successful season.