WEEK ONEIf your horse has had some time off, he’ll need an equal amount of time to get back in shape (i.e. one month off equals one month reconditioning). As you start back in work, protect your horse’s legs with Adelaide Sport Boots or Back on Track Polo Wraps. Even if he’s been in work all winter, start increasing his workload, but only increase time or intensity in each workout, never both at once. For more details on reconditioning, check out Back to Work by Lucinda Dyer.
WEEK TWOAs your workouts start to increase in time and intensity, it’s important to cool your horse out properly. A cooler or anti-sweat sheet, like the SmartPak Fleece Square Cooler or the Baker Irish Weave Anti-Sweat, can help your horse cool down without catching a chill. Body clipping will help your horse dry off faster, and our customers love the Oster Variable Speed Clipmaster.
WEEK THREESpecial training equipment can help your horse develop the right muscles. The Pessoa Lunging System encourages your horse to bring his hindquarters underneath him, improving his balance and helping develop his topline. As you start to ask more of your horse’s muscles, consider providing the ingredients that support healthy muscle function, like those found in SmartMuscle Mass or Tri-Amino.
WEEK FOURCantering or loping will help your horse increase aerobic capacity. Add some short canter sets to the routine this week. To prevent ring boredom, try adding trot poles or reference a book like 101 Dressage Exercises for new ideas.
WEEK FIVEIt’s tempting to think that doing more work sooner will help you reach your goals faster. But in reality, downtime is equally as important as working. Give your horse at least one day off every week to recover physically and mentally. Ideally, he should also spend plenty of time turned out so that he can stretch and relax. To make every day enjoyable, stock up on healthy, tasty treats like FlaxSnax which are packed with 3g of Omega 3 fatty acids per serving.
WEEK SIXNow that you’re working over fences and/or increasing the intensity of your workouts overall, make sure to step up your after-care as well. For the ultimate rubdown, Absorbine RefreshMint is a body wash and brace that cuts through dirt and sweat and provides a cool, tingling sensation to relax muscles. If you like wrapping, stock up on liniment and poultice (read the label to make sure it’s wrap-friendly). If icing is your thing, try Ice Horse Tendon Wraps or ColdFlex Vet Wrap.
Warmer weather is just around the corner, so make sure you’re prepared! If you haven’t already, make a list of your goals. Take time to renew your show or breed memberships, plan your summer travel, and get your gear in order. Visit SmartPak.com for the latest apparel, tack and equipment.