As fun as it is to compete a lot the time, it's also very important that you take a break every now and again. This could be giving your horse rest days or simply giving them a change of discipline. This is vital to maintaining a happy horse who still enjoys what they do, and may also help to build up both your bond with your equine partner and their fitness!
I like to hack my horses around nearby fields to give them a change of scene and to help them continue to feel fresh and alert. You can use whatever facilities you have nearby, be it fields, roads or beaches. As long as the ground is safe, there is no reason against having some fun every now and again outside of your horses' usual fitness regime.
If you're a showjumper, maybe give dressage or cross country a try, as it not only helps to improve areas of weakness in your chosen discipline but you may also find something else you are good at. Or if you are simply a pleasure rider, maybe push yourself to go to your local show, as you never know what will happen until you try!
Variation in work can also be a good way of building up your horses strength. Hill work is good for building up the quarters and light roadwork can strengthen tendons. Giving your horse a beach ride is also a good opportunity to work on the faster gaits without the limitation of space. Constant jumping puts immense strain on the tendons, so it also provides the horse with time to relax and repair whilst still enjoying different beneficial exercises.
At the end of the day, your horses well being is vitally important to how they will perform in the ring. A fit, happy horse who has a varied lifestyle will always try harder than if they were repeating the same thing over and over. Remember, a little variation can go a long way!
See you next month,