Spring Training: Getting Your Horse Ready To Ride Again

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It may be tempting to jump on your horse and go for a long ride the minute you feel the warmth of spring in the air. Whether that's wise depends on what your horse did all winter. If he didn't work, you'll need to bring him into the new season cautiously. Your horse's age, fitness level and general health will have an impact on how you bring him along.

Experts recommend a regimen of long walks with intervals of gentle trotting for the first few weeks. Here's the plan for a horse in general good health that's been standing around during winter:

Week 1-20-30 minute walks under saddle.

Week 2-30 minute walks plus 10 minutes trotting

Week 3 -30 minute walks plus 20 minutes trotting

Week 4- 30 minute walks plus 20-30 minutes trotting and cantering.

After week 4, see how your horse is responding. He may need more time, or he may be ready to go. A horse should also have a day off a week, and make sure you vary your activities-trail riding, arena work, even some trotting poles or small jumps.

Remember what the turtle said to the rabbit: Slow and steady wins the race.