This Article is About
riding a horse
proper vaccinations
vet check
typical places
green grass
tender feet
medical reason
first horse
Tips For Riding A Horse Come Spring
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If you're like me and live where the winters are cold and long, you're chomping at the bit (pun intended) to get back in the saddle again. If - like me - you don't have an indoor arena allowing you to avoid cold rains, ice and snow you have not been able to work with your horse very much at all this past winter season.

Well, frankly, not only am I a little out of shape but my now chubby gelding is as well! Whether or not you and your horse are looking a bit flabby in all the typical places, you can bet your horse is likely not ready to do a long training or riding workout. Your first horse riding lesson needs to be slow and easy, and not too aerobically-intensive just yet.

Okay, so you will want to go easy on your horse, but you will also want to keep a close eye on his/her eating habits and general over-all health. First, we'll discuss the eating-habits and over-all health tips.

Horse Health and Feeding:

What you need for a horse come spring is a complete vet check. While getting back to riding boot-camp, be sure to have your horse vet-checked in the spring as soon as possible. Your horse will need the proper vaccinations, boosters, and an updated coggins if you are trucking him/her to trails or shows.

You'll also want the farrier to now apply shoes (if your horse needs to be shod). Getting back to riding again means rough, rocky terrain. You don't want your horse to become lame because of tender feet. Remember, he or she hasn't had to carry your weight all winter.

With the return of warmer weather also comes of a horse's favorite past-time; eating fresh, green grass! Be sure to allow your horse this enjoyment, but make sure that fresh grass grazing time is allowed gradually. Too much fresh grass too soon can cause founder, and the last thing you want after a long break from riding is a lame horse!

Okay, now back to the tips for spring riding:

Because I am not a big fan of blanketing a horse unless there is a medical reason, no shelter from the element, or a horse is being trailered in cold weather, my horses grow lots of winter coat! That means they are always furry little woolly mammoths by the time spring finally rolls around. Once again - if your horses are like mine - they will overheat very quickly when you start doing ground work to prepare them for riding again. In fact, my gelding is always so eager to please me in the spring I really have to cut back and go very easy with him. He's one of those "easy keepers" who always runs a bit overweight and - even though he has 24/7 use of his pasture and shelter - usually packs on a few pounds over winter. For helping a horse to shed a winter coat, do lots of brushing. Your horse will love it and horse people seem to love doing it.

Make sure you adhere to a regular schedule of no less than 3 to 5 days a week. It's best to have the days you work with your horse run consecutively rather than skipping a day or more in between lessons. The first ride can often feel as though you're riding a new horse. They tend to be a bit on the fresh side, have a bit of an attitude, and just may not really feel up to "working" after a long break. If you've had a horse in a stable for most of the cold season - a situation I don't recommend for a horse's overall well-being - the horse will have a lot of penned-up energy to work off. Either way, just take it one step at a time, take it slow and make sure every step of your training is applied at a gradient. I highly recommend lots of ground work before you get back up in the saddle.

Remember, you AND your horse are likely out of shape. Muscles will be stiff, sore and achy. Allow your horse to become more flexible and accustomed to being worked again. Be keenly aware of what is legitimate getting-back-into-shape phenomenon, and what is just plain bad attitude you will need to correct right away.

Okay, there's a great deal more we can - and will - talk about regarding preparing your horse for spring. But let's hone-in on these points first. Spring is always looked upon with eager eyes, but it also demands we get ourselves and our horses back on schedule - so we'll take it in increments.

So, here's the recap:

What You Need For A Horse Come Spring

1. Get your horse vet-checked as early in the spring as possible 2. Make sure all vaccinations are up-to-date 3. Make sure you have an up-to-date coggins so you can begin transporting your horse to shows, etc. 4. Have your farrier examine your horse and, if necessary, apply shoes. 5. Monitor your horse's grazing time on fresh, green, spring grass.

Tips for Riding a Horse Come Spring

1. Start out slow and steady, keeping a regular schedule of 3 to 5 days a week minimum. 2. Begin with ground work until your horse's mind is in the right place for working under saddle. 3. Watch for signs of sore and stiff muscles. 4. Allow time for your horse to become more flexible. 5. If your horse is overweight, or otherwise out of shape, avoid working him/her too hard when you first start. 6. Remember; slow and steady is better than going gang-busters and exhausting your horse.

Spring is a long-awaited season for those of us who have not been able to enjoy our horse-riding during winter. Make sure you get back to it as smoothly and as injury-free as possible. As always, happy trails!

Street Talk

Love the advice!!! And groundwork, groundwork, groundwork after winter. I usually don't get on my horses, (and I have trained them all from the start) for at least 3-4 days when I start in the spring or an extended period of time off. Better safe then sorry and I have never had a problem. I listen to the horse and let them tell me when they are ready and again in the frame of mind for working and being ridden.

  about 9 years ago
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