A good warm up prior to your ride is important to your horse’s health. Here are 5 facts to consider the next time that you’re warming up your horse.
1. Cold Muscles Are Tight and Prone to Injury
Why do we put such an emphasis on properly warming up a horse? Because without a warm up, your horse’s muscles and ligaments are cold and tight. Muscles and ligaments which are cold and tight are more prone to injury – if your horse takes a funny step, the muscles and ligaments aren’t as ready to stretch and help the horse recover as they would be if they had been properly warmed up.
Cold muscles and ligaments can be easily injured, and will sometimes result in your horse moving stiffly. This stiff movement makes it hard for the horse’s body to function properly, so the horse actually has to work harder to do basic movements like the walk and the trot.
2. A Long, Slow Warm Up Can Help Prevent Injury
Giving your horse a long, slow warm up before every ride is an excellent way to help prevent injury during and after workouts. You should spend at least ten minutes giving your horse a gradual warm up before asking for any intense collection, but a longer warm up is always better.
3. Horses With Arthritis Need Extended Warm Ups
Arthritis is one condition which generally benefits from extended warm ups. Don’t forget that by warming up your horse, you are also promoting proper blood circulation and helping to reduce swelling from the legs. The more that you can reduce swelling, the better a horse with arthritis will be able to move and function. Gradual warm ups can also help to reduce the pain that an arthritic horse feels.
4. Warm Ups Can Set the Tone for the Entire Ride
Don’t think of your warm up as wasted time. Instead, look at your warm up as an opportunity to set the tone for the ride to come. As you warm your horse up, ask for him to focus on you, instead of his surroundings. Use the time to gain your horse’s attention and help him get into “work mode” so that by the time you’re ready to ask for more, your horse is ready to work with you.
5. Massage Can Help Facilitate Proper Warm Up
Massage is an often underappreciated part of warming a horse up. Many sport horse owners now use massage before warming their horses up for big events. Massage promotes blood circulation and muscle warmth, so consider adding some basic massage to your horse’s warm up regimen.
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