When shedding horse hair floats through the air, and up our noses, it means winter's chill is history and the anticipation of spring riding fills us with glee.
Whether or not your horse shares your enthusiasm will depend on how well he's prepared after the months of leisure time her had during his winter vacation.
Just because the temps motivate us to get back in the saddle, it doesn't mean your horse's body, or mind, are ready to go for a ride.
Carrying the weight of tack and a rider requires significant physical effort. It will take thoughtful reconditioning to prevent cardiovascular fatigue, soft tissue damage, joint strain, and pain before getting in the arena or hitting the trails. If you introduce prolonged exercise or uneven and hilly terrain before your horse is ready, you increase the risk of your horse having an unpleasant physical and emotional springtime experience.
The best way to prep your horse for his return to work is by spending a few minutes every other day walking him in straight lines with his head and neck unrestricted, relaxed, and in alignment with his body. Slowly increase the time you spend walking over a couple weeks.
Slowly add some trot steps and walk-to-trot-to-walk transitions. After the second week, add a walk over poles.
Getting back into the groove slowly will get your horse's head back into the game and reduce emotional overload. Your horse hasn't been exposed to the sights and sensations of riding for awhile. A slow reintroduction will ease the transition and be a super opportunity for you two to bond and reconnect. .
Want more info and advice on how to make riding a better experience for you and your horse? Contact us at Pure Joy Horsemanship.