Ever wonder how performance horses are conditioned for hill work? Though it is not a walk in the park that just anybody can do, you can achieve it with a little training. It is an art that requires that the rider have very good judgment. One thing you will need to have here is a fine-tuned sense to help you make the right judgment on when and how much to increase your horse's work to build up his strength and endurance.
One surefire way to stock up power, endurance and stamina for your horse is to climb hills. It puts his own body mass to good advantage, making him exert more and utilize his muscles much harder. The gait that the horse uses during his hill performance also has an impact on his overall development. You therefore need to kick off slowly and have him warm up slowly in order to avoid injuring his soft muscles. As fitness levels improve and his tendons, ligaments, joints and muscles gain endurance, you can increase speed.
While trotting up hills strengthens the horse’s lower leg, as well as the thigh and gaskin of his hind leg, an uphill gallop works his rump muscles. However, be careful not to overdo it, and only attempt it once your horse has reached higher levels of fitness.
To enhance his coordination, balance and strength to handle uneven ground and inconsistent footing during a strenuous performance, do a great deal of traveling across the sides of the hill in addition to going up and down. Actually, this is one of the most effective exercises to have your horse do prior to a tasking athletic contest.
Training your horse on a steep hillside, especially if his footing is a bit loose or uneven, helps him develop a lot of dexterity and coordination, perhaps forcing him to scramble a little bit if his feet are sliding and have to be moved around one another. It is the kind of movement that boosts his agility and teaches him to get accustomed to balancing his feet and entire body to his best advantage. This way, your horse will learn to improve his agility, and therefore he will be less likely to strain his legs or fall down if he is in an environment where his footing becomes unpredictable.
Image source: flickr.com
Disclaimer: Of Horse! and sponsors do not endorse nor validate the accuracy of a blog post. Each article is the opinion of the blogger.