Knowing how a horse functions with respect to anatomy, the daily requirements for optimum equine health, and your horse’s existing fitness level will help you determine how to properly maintain or improve your horse’s overall condition and readiness for work or pleasure. Creating a program consisting of routines to enhance your horse’s every day riding performance or to prepare him for arena competition can be intimidating, but with dedicated effort rewards will follow.
If horses are a significant part of your life, you already know this. But if you want to learn more about how to keep your horse fit and feeling good, or if you recently adopted a horse and want to acquire as much knowledge as possible about your new companion, check out these books:
In Equine Fitness: A Conditioning Program of Exercises & Routines for Your Horse, author Jec Ballou explains how the muscles work, stretching techniques, how to assess the current fitness of your horse, and the proper way to condition an older horse. Ballou breaks down equine fitness into roughly four areas: cardio, strength, balance, and suppleness. A healthy horse will be more enjoyable to ride if he meets the goals in each of these categories. Exercises related to these four areas are listed and will help you create individualized workouts for your horse.
Horse conditioning includes incorporating proper techniques to soothe your horse’s sore muscles and to release tension. How do you find the tension areas?
In Beyond Horse Massage: A Breakthrough Interactive Method for Alleviating Soreness, Strain and Tension (also on DVD), the Masterson Method–Integrated Equine Performance Bodywork–is applied. This approach focuses on the “responses of the horse to your touch to find and release accumulated tension in key junctions of the body that most affect performance.” It also improves your communication with the horse. This book is full of questions (“what ifs”) and answers, tips, and detailed explanations (with photos) of various techniques. A helpful step-by-step follow-up is at the end of each section.
You’ll find these books and many others about horse care in the Pets Neighborhood!