Anna's thoughts on start-up & supplements
Anna Persson trains and competes horses from breaking-in to international show jumping. She has, among other things, won the Swedish Championship as a Young Rider and taken her family's own breeding all the way to 150cm GP level. Something that is very important to Anna is to always look after the horse's best interests and work proactively to maintain healthy joints. Anna knows the importance of long term sustainability and part of this is to think about restarting after rest. During the winter and the interludes, many of us have taken it easy and we now need to gradually restart our horses to reduce the risk of joint inflammation. Check out Anna's top tips on restarting after rest below.
Lie down before sitting up
It may be a good idea to lunge your horse before sitting up for the first time after a long rest. Your horse can then piss out any excess energy, this can be particularly useful when you are sitting a young horse as they may find it more difficult to cope with the excess energy.
When you are sitting on a young horse that is very alert, I usually recommend using a neck strap. If the horse bucks or runs away and you lose your balance, you can hold on to the neck strap. With this aid you don't risk pulling your horse by the mouth but you do get help with balance.
Gradually step up the work
In general, it is also important after a long rest to step up the work gradually. Don't demand too much from the start, but give your horse a few days of short, quiet sessions to get him started easily. You can then gradually increase the demands and length of the sessions. The same applies when it's time to start jumping again. After you have gradually increased the work, you can start to add fences and then small cavaletti to the work. However, wait a few weeks before jumping fully to give your horse time to get started properly!
Return to normal supplementation
If you have reduced your supplementation during rest, it is time to return to your usual dose. Horses are often happy and bouncy during the start and it is easy for them to overexert themselves as they buck and run away. During rest I have continued to give the horses Chondrogen daily. My horses get it daily, it's my staple. It contains a little bit of everything the joints need, both hyaluronic acid, glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate. Now that they're getting back to work, I've added Conquest Follow Up to my racehorses. I think it will be the best combination to protect them from wear and tear and joint inflammation.
All my tips are general, you have to adapt everything to your horse and its level of training.
Keep the horse happy
The most important thing to think about when starting your horse after the winter break is the safety of both of you. Working too hard too soon can cause wear and tear injuries. Also, when your horse hasn't worked for a long time, it can get aches and pains from even light work. In this case, remember to feel from day to day how your horse feels. The most important thing for me is always ?to keep them happy? says Anna.