How Can I Exercise My Horse Without Riding?
Keeping a horse in shape when they aren’t used for riding can be tricky. You may have limited time and resources to work with. There are many fun, engaging activities you can use to exercise your horse without riding whether you’d like to improve their muscle tone, get them fit for riding, or just help them stay healthy.
Encouraging Exercise When Turning Your Horse Out To Pasture
Wild horses spend most of the day traveling between water sources and searching for food. Exercise, for them, consists of slow, steady movement with occasional bursts of speed.
When you turn your horse out, they may or may not move around enough to constitute sufficient exercise. They’ll typically exercise more if turned out with other horses. Allowing them to graze in a pasture can help them stay active but may also exacerbate a weight issue. You can use a grazing muzzle to inhibit grazing, if necessary.
Ways To Exercise Your Horse Without Riding
Hand-walking your horse is a great way to warm them up for any physical activity. Aim to walk for up to ten minutes to accelerate your horse’s heart rate and rev up circulation to their muscles. It’s also the best way to help them relax and get into the right mental state for exercise.
Stretching can be a highly beneficial part of your horse’s warm up and/or cool down routine. Use stretches to increase circulation, monitor different parts of their body for stiffness, increase suppleness, and help prevent injuries.
Lunging your horse allows you to safely exercise them while reinforcing or adding training skills. While you stand in the center of an enclosed space, you have your horse on a lunge line of about 30 feet and have them trot or canter around you.
Agility is another activity you can enjoy with your horse. Similar to dog agility, it involves leading your horse through an obstacle course that may involve ramps, hoops, weave poles, and jumps. Agility can be used to improve communication and build strength and you can even compete with your horse in agility competitions.
Always start slow and work your way up to longer and more intense workout sessions. If you notice any signs of pain or your horse is reluctant to exercise, contact your veterinarian.