We all focus on fitness, muscle development, technical training and the many ways in which we can improve. What we often overlook is the necessity for a good well earned rest! Rest periods during the training/increasing fitness periods are equally important.
These periods are essential for the recovery and repair of muscles, tendons and ligaments. It is hard to find a balance between enough and too much work. Horses require different amounts of loading at different stages of their training. And of course each horse is different.
So here are a few tips to assist you. Firstly rest periods can be as basic as a couple of minutes walking after intense work. Short breaks help the body build up resistance as it pushes the fatigue threshold further.
Tip 1 Take regular short walks in between performing a lot of repetition work; such as introducing a new skill or fine tuning an existing. Breaks are also good rewards.
When building up condition, such as with young horses, putting an amount of stress on the body will encourage it to strengthen. Overloading however causes the body to fatigue and it is during fatigue that the most damage occurs.
Tip 2 - Err on the side of conservative training and give adequate resting time (minimum 3-4 days) between stressful exercise sessions allowing the tissues to recover.
There is a condition described as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). In most cases this is not a problem rather a normal process in building up muscle and fitness or after a differentiation in exercise. As with us, the muscles lack in strength for the next couple of days.
Tip3 - Giving a couple of days rest allows the tissues to regenerate and repair. My recommendation is to work lightly the day after extremely intense work, then give your horse a days break.
Giving you horse a day break and walking together (instead of riding) is an enjoyable break and reward. Taking a day off what should be a training session can be very rejuvenating.
Tip 4 - Improve the quality of this ‘unplanned holiday’ by working lightly the days before and after. It is good for the body and the mind for it to relax. Use this time also for active gymnastics exercises to improve function and flexibility.
Our horses are athletes. They also require adequate time for regeneration and recuperation. This is important not only for the body, also the mind and especially during peak training.
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