Getting The Most Out Of Your Horse’s Stamina
Spending years honing a horse to be as fast as possible will mean very little once it’s on the racecourse and it’s not able to keep up with its competition for very long. Stamina and speed go hand-in-hand, and ensuring your horse is able to maintain its speed is just as vital as how fast it’s capable of running.
Thankfully, it’s possible to increase a horse’s stamina through intense, rotational training sessions as we will illustrate below.
Make Use of Hill Work
Developing stamina means working on the animal’s muscle strength, which is where hill work can be of a great benefit, and should be incorporated into your riding routine. Hills provide a decent challenge for any horse, but it’s also a low-impact exercise, meaning that it won’t cause any undue pain to their joints. It’s important to start any hill training slowly, with walking at first, and as the animal becomes stronger, it will be able to move to trotting or canter sets.
Part of a good conditioning program is interval training, which is composed of short periods of very high intensity training that’s broken up by longer periods of easier exercise regimes. It needs to be timed as carefully as possible, as forcing the animal to go through to many high-intensity intervals may leave it in pain or even cause injury. This is where patience is key, and the horse will need to be trained slowly over time, allowing it to build more muscle strength and increase its overall stamina. It’s a good idea to keep a track of the horse’s progress, making note of the frequency and durations of the interval training in a journal, which allows for the monitoring of the horse’s progress. If injury does occur at this stage, it might be worth allowing the animal to heal, and then rebuilding the training slowly over time – good results take time.
Ground poles can allow for a more rigorous workout, helping to develop muscles. This can be done by adding trot poles at shorter heights, and then slowly raising their maximum height over time once the horse has gained better precision and more strength. Another routine to consider incorporating is gymnastics, which many might think are only for jumping horses. Low height gymnastics provide a good opportunity for the animal to develop specific muscles that it would otherwise never be able to work on through other types of training.
Preparation is key when it comes to training, so it’s imperative to develop a conditioning program to get the horse ready for an upcoming even. Stamina, although it can take months to build up, will also need to be properly conditioned just before an event begins. Not only does this minimise the chance of an injury occurring, but it can ensure that the horse knows that will be becoming and what to expect.