As you proceed through your horse’s fitness training program, remember that change is not only inevitable, CHANGE IS THE GOAL. As your horse increases in physical fitness, his body, mind and emotions will all change too. The horse trainer who pays careful attention to the horses in her or his stable will achieve the best results in the shortest amount of time.
Keep your eyes trained on your horse for changes in these common areas:
Vital Statistics– Vital Statistics refer to your horse’s temperature, pulse and respiration (TPR). As your horse progresses through your fitness training program, his vital statistics can act as red flags. Check his TPR at the same time each day for several days in a row and average the numbers to learn what is “normal” for your horse. Monitor your horses TPR throughout your conditioning program. Even slight changes can indicate problems brewing. As horses become more physically fit, expect to see their baseline pulse and respiration lower.
Nutrient Requirements- The amount of feed that was sufficient to maintain good body condition when your horse was a pasture potato will not be enough to support him as his training load increases. Adjust your horse’s feed ration to accommodate increasing physical demands
Tack Fit– A human Olympic athlete looks very different from a couch potato. Expect to see some radical changes in your horse’s physiology through your fitness training program! As he loses weight and gains muscle, you will find your saddle no longer fits. If you do not have several different sized saddles that are appropriate to your horse, you may use a saddle with adjustable gullets or use shims or pads to maintain correct fit. Your horse’s soundness and your competitive success depend on it!
Inflammation– Inflammation is the equine body’s response to overexertion. Train yourself to watch and feel your horse, particularly his legs and hooves, for any changes. Watch for swelling and feel for heat. Swelling and heat indicate inflammation, excessive stress and potential injury.
MONITOR your horse’s changes carefully as you progress through your equine conditioning program. You may need to adjust your training program to accommodate unforeseen challenges. The faster you can catch and fix potential problems, the more you can avoid damaging your horse. This means more fitness and more fun faster for both you and your horse!
Kirsten Lee produces extraordinary results for horses and riders!