As well as focusing on your horse’s fitness in the run up to a show or event, you need to maintain his suppleness after it, too. Here, world class eventer Mary King shares her favourite post-competition exercise.
While a couple of quieter days after a competition will give your horse chance to relax and unwind, his exercise regime needs to step back up by day three to ensure he’s fit and ready for his next outing. My 30-minute workout will
help maintain your horse’s flexibility, suppleness and responsiveness. As you’re working through the exercises you should start to feel a softer, balanced and more connected feel between you and your horse.
Stretch your horse’s muscles, working long and low
Working your horse long and low is a great way to help him loosen off after a competition. It helps build topline by lengthening his neck and torso, though your horse must be relaxed in order to work in a long and low frame properly. If he’s tense or excited before you begin, give him a good trot or canter to release any excess energy, otherwise you may end up fighting with him.
How to ride it
Prepare by asking your horse to work in an active walk. You should feel his hindquarters swinging beneath you, propelling him forward. To help him relax and become supple, allow your upper body and seat to go with his movement, encouraging his stride to lengthen.
Lengthen your reins, but do this very gradually. Don’t throw away the contact as this will encourage your horse onto his forehand. If he leans on your hands give him a slight nudge with your heels and lift your hands, then ask again. As you do this, maintain an upright position in the saddle, as tipping forward will unbalance your horse.
Once he’s relaxed and working long and low correctly, your horse should be working through his back with a good, round arc from nose to tail. His nose shouldn’t be sticking out.
Next, up the pace to trot and then canter once you’ve perfected this movement in walk, making sure he works evenly on both reins.