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hores body condition scores horse, Reconditioning Horse, spring horse riding, get a horse fit, horse feed change, equine fitness, horse exercise, overworked horse

As we welcome the transition from winter to spring, we are eager to get back in the saddle and start riding regularly again. Canadian winters are not sympathetic to outdoor riding, and without access to indoor facilities many horse owners have not been able to ride or exercise their horses as much as they would like during the winter months. Bringing horses back into work after their winter vacation must be done gradually by starting at a lower level and increasing the duration and intensity of workouts. At the same time, the horse’s feed should be adjusted to address his present body condition (too thin or too fat) as well as nutrient requirements for the increased workload.

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There are many reasons, or rather, excuses for not wearing riding helmets. Yet research shows that a properly fitted, safety-approved riding helmet can drastically reduce the risk of head injury. When a rider falls, the head is usually the first thing to impact the ground. The human skull can be shattered on impacts of 7 to 10 kilometers per hour, and horses gallop at over 60 kph. According to the Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky, three out of every five equestrian accident deaths are caused by brain injuries, and there is four times the risk of mortality for non-helmeted riders who become injured.

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3 Rules to Maximize Time Off - Periods of downtime come as realistic parts of horse ownership, although how a rider uses these stretches of poor weather or busy schedules contributes profoundly to a horse’s long-term soundness and performance. Recent data from biomechanics researchers and veterinary schools shows that large vacillations in fitness can be detrimental to overall health, particularly for horses past their mid-teen years. Most notably, periods of lesser activity lasting over a month can weaken deep postural muscles and supporting soft tissue.

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There is nothing quite like heading out for a hack on an invigoratingly clear winter’s day with a horse eager to power through the snow. Riding through the winter is not only fun – it benefits your equine partner by keeping him physically and mentally fit year-round.

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If you’ve ever been to a gym after a long absence or started up a new exercise routine as part of your New Year’s resolution, you have a good appreciation for the importance of gaining and maintaining fitness. The same concept applies to your horse when you put him back into training after giving him the winter off, after a layoff from an injury, or when starting a young horse under saddle. Unfortunately, many horse owners and trainers are concerned only with working their horses over obstacles or schooling maneuvers specific to their sport, rather than ensuring their horses are fit enough to perform such tasks.

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