Implementing a pre-and post-workout routine is crucial for the progress, longevity, and success of human athletes. So, what makes it any less important for your horse?
We get it. Equestrian sport is already time-consuming. Not only do you have to prepare, but you have to do the same for your horse. Taking care of yourself allows you to have the ability to take care of your horse appropriately. However, putting aside some extra time for your horse's needs can make a world of difference in your success.
So, what does a pre and post-ride routine actually do? Overall, creating a comprehensive routine for your horse not only builds the bond between horse and rider, but serves as a mental prep for promoting focus, presence, and relaxation. Not to mention, incorporating a pre and post-ride routine has been proven to reduce the risk of injury.
Don’t know where to start? We put together a list of some pre and post-ride routines to get you started and inspire you to add what you feel is most beneficial to you and your horse's schedule.
This might sound like a no-brainer for some horse lovers, but more often than not, we forget to create a plan going into our rides. This can be as simple as planning your horse’s meals around your ride, altering your horse's turnout to allow them enough outside time before and after, and even setting aside time to lunge or do some groundwork with your horse.
While this may seem simple, these minor considerations are crucial in preventing unnecessary stress on your horse. Be sure to feed your horse with enough time to digest before your ride or wait until after if you feel most appropriate. Allowing your horse enough turn out before and after a ride can also make or break your time in the saddle, especially regarding their mental state, suppleness, and overall willingness to work.
If it is common for your horse to carry a lot of extra energy or turn out is not as accessible to your horse, setting aside some time to do some simple groundwork exercises, such as lunging, can make a difference. Making a plan and sticking to it is vital to see significant differences in your horse, ride, and overall bond.
Grooming a horse can seem pretty straightforward. Curry them to lift the dirt, brush the excess away, use a comb on the mane and tail, pick their hooves, you get the point. But have you ever considered taking the time to turn your grooming session into even more than just making sure your horse is clean?
A rider’s grooming routine is a perfect opportunity to bond, build trust and promote relaxation in their horse. Next time you groom your horse, consider spending extra time currying them and focusing less on the “grooming” aspect and more on the muscle connection.
Notice that your horse is licking their lips when you curry over their shoulder? Mindfully dig deeper in these areas where your horse may be telling you something. Creating your own grooming routine is key and can be developed over time as you discover your horse’s strong and weak points.
Stretching is an absolute must both before and after your ride for you and your horse. Stretching your horse can seem a bit scary or complicated if you haven’t already done it before. Especially if you have an older or stiff horse, taking it slow and easy is essential. Consult your veterinarian about how to stretch your horse before you begin a stretching routine safely.
There are tons of stretches out there to choose from. Picking a reputable source or professional is recommended when selecting from different equine stretch routines. Another great idea when picking out what stretches to do is t to search them based on your horse’s stiff or weaker points. You can always reach out to a trusted trainer, bodyworker, or equine professional to help you through this process.
Another underrated component that makes stretching your horse more enjoyable is incorporating treats. Encouraging your horse to stretch with the help of treats is a great way to increase motivation and give your horse something to look forward to before and after your ride.
We all know just how important it is to take care of our horse's legs, but are we really taking all the preventative measures we can to protect them? Creating a solid pre and post-ride leg care routine may not give immediate results. Still, it can prevent your horse from developing or worsening any conditions from consistent wear and tear.
Pre-ride, spend some time examining your horse’s legs for new cuts, bumps, or imperfections. Taking pictures regularly is also an excellent idea for catching warning signs before it gets worse. Be sure to prepare your horse’s leg protection for your ride, whether that be clean polos or bell boots.
Post-ride, consider going the extra mile for your horse and try adding a recovery treatment. This can mean cold hosing your horse's legs, using ice boots, applying a poultice, or anything else you feel is appropriate for your horse. There are tons of excellent protocols and products out there. Always consult with your veterinarian before trying any new product to ensure it is in your horse's best interest.
Support Your Equine Athlete