Ride a lot? do some training
Riding a lot and exercising a little is something that veterinarian Eva Skiöldebrand advises all riders to do. The horse is designed to be in motion and therefore does not benefit from standing still. Many times horse owners give their horses rest in good faith, but in smaller pastures the horses are mostly standing still. Hence, in these cases it is better for the horse to move but with less intensity. Examples of this could be:
- Light work
- Loose galloping
The only limit is your imagination. Just as the horse's body is designed for movement, the horse's joints are fundamentally not designed for the work we require. Jumping high obstacles, doing pirouettes and trotting with a carriage behind you are stresses that strain the joints. This doesn't mean that we can't do these performances with our horses, we just need to be aware of how to do it best.
One way to balance training is through breaks in the riding session. Put together and collect the horse for a while and then release the tension and let the horse take a break. Then you can return to collection again before the next break comes. Breaks for the joints can take the form of pure walk breaks for a few minutes or simply by free work without collection. It's about a few minutes for the joints to regain full flow and recovery. To make your riding session flow, it's best to plan what the session will look like. What do I want to do today? What do I want to achieve? When should I call for collection and when should I put in my micro break? A lot is then about the feeling during the ride, but with a basic plan and structure this will happen naturally.
When should I ride without training?
A few sessions a week and during rest periods. Varied riding and training is essential for a long-term sustainable horse. It is important for both the physical and mental health of the horse that it gets variation in its everyday life. We are often ambitious and want to work our horses a lot. However, this does not benefit the joints or the horse's mental health. For happy joints and minds, we recommend variety and balance.
You can also do low-intensity training, such as working on certain movements at the walk such as bending and opening. You can do canter changes in the forest and do loose work.
What is active rest?
After intense periods of competition, for example, we like to give horses a rest. However, if you ask most veterinarians and equine therapists, they will recommend rest in motion. Of course, horses can have days where they just walk in the paddock and do nothing else. The optimum is if the horse can get long periods of time in the pasture AND perform some activity such as riding or lunging.
Active rest = rest with activities without straining the body.
My horse is very alert, how should I introduce active rest or reduced exertion?
Riding twice a day may feel like more effort, but low-intensity work is more about stimulating the horse. For example, you can lunge the horse in the morning and then ride a session in the afternoon. Since the horse has used up some of its excess energy in the morning, the session can be shorter and more effective. Replace lunging with a lighter round in the forest, a loose canter in the riding hall or a walk. You can also trim in the morning and then do something light in the afternoon for a more harmonious horse in the box and paddock. This is suitable for high-energy horses that don't have access to long periods of outdoor exercise or have small pastures where they don't naturally move. Don't be afraid to ride your horse, we just want to help you find a balance for a long-term sustainable horse.