4 Fitness goal for your horse

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Equine fitness breaks down into roughly four areas: cardio, strength, balance, and suppleness. With those four areas accounted for, a horse in good health will reach his full performance potential no matter the discipline. This also means he will be easier and more fun to ride! Use the following list to create your individualized workouts to target these four areas. A few exercises show up under more than one category because they are dual-purpose exercises (for example: promoting both strength and suppleness). 

     cardio fitness 

  Include two or three of these exercises per week, either on their own or as part of a longer session. Once your horse has achieved a good base of cardio fitness (generally after 3 months of consistent riding and exercise) you will only need to focus on maintenance. Many of the following exercises can be interspersed into your normally planned riding session by setting aside 15 to 20 minutes to perform a couple of these patterns. Be sure to get your horse’s heart and respiration elevated; otherwise, you are not pushing him enough to maintain his fitness level and he may lose condition

  •  Sprint Lines 
  •  Gearing Up to Gallop
  •  Exercise on a Slope 
  •  Gymnastic Jumping 
  •  Sets and Reps for Arena
  •  Double Longe
  •  Arena Interval Training
  •  Warm-up 1 — The Oval 
  •  Horizontal Frame Conditioning
  •  Changing Speeds
  • Trotting Poles in an Arc  
  •  In and Out Leg-Yielding

strength training

Work on one or two of these exercises once or twice a week. Ideally, you should ride them on a day that you are not also taxing your horse’s hindquarters in your normal riding. For instance, if you are a dressage rider and you’ve already ridden a lot of shoulder-ins or transitions, don’t do the shoulder-in exercises. Save it for a riding day when you are focusing mostly on looseness or refreshing the basics in your riding. Also, try not to get attached to only a few exercises — work your way through the whole list regularly. Each exercise asks different things of the horse’s body. 

  •  Sprint Lines 
  • Legging Up
  • Waltzing with Your Horse
  •  Rein-Back up a Hill 
  •  Rein-Back on a Curve
  •  Riding a Drop 
  •  Canter to Walk Downhill  
  • Tail Pull 
  •  Counter Canter Loops 
  • Counter Canter Serpentines 
  • Shoulder-In Repetitions 
  • Striding In, Striding Out 
  • Trotting Poles in an Arc
  •  Lifting the Hind Legs 
  •  Stepping Over Slowly
  •  Cantering on Uneven Terrain 
  •  Pelvis Tucks 

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