It's important to train your horse carefully to avoid injury. Follow these five golden rules and you won't go wrong.
1. Warm up and cool down for at least 10 minutes
Start with low-intensity work and build up to high strength exercises.
2. Know when to stop
Leave a minimum of two days between strength training. This allows your horse's muscles to recover and should prevent him from becoming tense and sore.
3. Build muscle safely
A great way to build muscle gradually is to do lots of steep hill work at collected walk.
Introduce this gradually over a couple of weeks, building up to walking up a steep hill seven times in one training session, with a rest in between and no jogging!
Asking your horse to collect just before the hill will help prevent him dragging himself up it with his shoulders.
4. Remember to stretch
Encouraging your horse to stretch should be part of your daily warm up and warm down.
Speak to a registered veterinary physiotherapist for exercises to help improve your horse's core muscle strength and protect any muscle strains.
5. Avoid days off
Even if your horse is turned out, a day without any exercise can allow his muscles to stiffen up.
A day of very light exercise, such as a 20-minute walk in-hand or hack is recommended.
This allows his muscles to be gently stretched, warmed and loosened without asking too much.