If there is a spring in your step, then winter must be moving on to another hemisphere. It’s time to dry out the winter horse rugs and step into spring with a fresh program and get a head start on the upcoming competition circuit.
Is your horse spring ready? If not then we have some great tips to help shrug off the winter warmers and get your horse looking and competing back into that first place spot. By working ahead of the competing period and feeding high-quality feed and supplements you can ensure that your horse has the best start possible.
Call the Vet!
Use spring as a great time to start off with a clean bill of health and get ready for riding competition. Your vet will do a complete work up to assess for lameness, blood tests and a general check over to see that your horse is virus free and ready to start their spring program. You can expect senior horses to need a little extra attention during their check up. Your vet will be checking irregularities in the heart and lungs.
Being proactive about your horse’s health can save you setbacks come competition time. Consider a probiotic such as Abler AbActive to assist in your horse’s immune system. These enteric-coated granules assist in the restoration of naturally occurring bacteria in the intestines. Taking AbActive regularly administered will keep your horse well balanced when travelling and competing.
Food Glorious Food
Spring is the perfect time to re-evaluate your horses diet. Keep an eye on any extra weight gain. You can do a quick assessment by feeling around the midsection of your horse to determine if you need to increase or reduce their feed. Take into consideration the increased training that your horse is about to undertake. Training will be increased gradually and feed should be the same. High-quality hay, oat and a supplements diet will see your horse return to its peak competition state in no time at all.
Helping your horse shed their winter coat and get them show ready will take some elbow grease. Using a curry comb in a circular motion will assist in loosening the winter growth. Take particular care to the sensitive areas such as the face, ears and below the knees.Don’t hoof around!Get your local farrier in to do a check up and service for your horse after winter. They can assist in correcting under-run heels, a club foot or flare in the hoof wall. While on the topic of hoof care have your vet check for laminitis. Regularly cleaning after each ride will ensure that all these relationships work together to give your horse a good year.
No pain no gain – Training
Training will differ depending on whether or not your horse was stabled, out to pasture or had the use of an indoor training arena. It will also be affected by the weather where you live. Hard ice, snow and frozen ground will have impacted the current status of your horse. Start by pacing the training if the winter training schedule was light. Increasing the duration and pace will slowly get your horses muscle memory back to peak performance. Ensure you train where possible on different terrains to give your horse a chance to prepare for the different competing grounds. Most horses are raring to get back into training. Just remember all work, and no play can be boring. Allow some play time for your horse now that the sun is out and the days are getting longer and warmer. Play time will allow your horse to de-stress and unwind while continuing to work their muscles and joints.
It can take between 4-6 weeks to get your horse back up to pre-winter riding condition. So starting slowly and early will give you both the right amount of unpressured time to get back on top.
If your horse has been in the one location for the duration of winter, then make sure you ease them back into travelling. Some horses enjoy travelling on trailers and others can be easily spooked. If you forget and leave reintroducing your horse to their trailer until the first competition, you could find yourself in a tight spot. Short rides in a trailer and practice loading them will get them familiar with the process.
So, in order for you and your horse to get back to tip top competing form, plan away. Planning is key to easing back into the routine slowly to ensure their health and fitness is paramount. Leaving it to the last minute will only cause injury and distress to both yourself and your horse.
Best of luck competing this year to all the Weekend Warriors.