Webinar: Tips For How To Train When Riding Isn’t An Option

Winter weather often limits training for horses of all kinds, and although much of the country is now experiencing warmer temperatures, spring rains could continue to create headaches for equestrians.

With this challenge in mind, the Retired Racehorse Project recently hosted a webinar titled, ‘How To Train When You Can’t Ride’ to offer tips for riders of all sports to keep horses physically and mentally engaged when the ground is icy, rain-soaked or snow-covered.

A few key takeaways:

  • Dr. Shannon Reed, associate professor of equine surgery at The Ohio State University and off-track Thoroughbred advocate, said that even for a horse in rehabilitation from an injury, there are ways to keep things from being monotonous. If a horse is limited to hand walking, check with your veterinarian to see if it’s ok to hand walk outside rather than in the barn aisle, whether tack walking or trailer loading practice are acceptable forms of exercise. Stall-bound horses may still be able to work on vocal cues and lateral work (“Move over”) in the stall. Walking over ground poles or under saddle may also be an option for some horses.

    “You should come out of six months of rehab with a better horse than what you went in with,” said Reed. “There are a whole lot of things that you can do with your horse that have nothing to do with being under saddle, which is someplace we sometimes put ourselves under pressure.”

  • Always check with the veterinarian when brainstorming things that could fit within the guidelines – don’t ask the Facebook peanut gallery.
  • Hand walking, especially a brisk walk, can be a surprisingly good way to get a horse (and rider) fit. Reed recommends hand walking in whatever environment you safely can. While walking the roads of her neighborhood, Reed was able to introduce her OTTB to ditches, mailboxes, driveways, trash cans, and other items. The horse learned to stop and wait for people to pass, and to turn on the forehand when required.
  • Reward curiosity in your horse. It’s better for a horse to encounter something new in a low-pressure, non-time sensitive situation than at a competition.
  • Hand walking is a safe way to begin teaching herd bound horses that they will return to their friends eventually, and that it’s ok to trust and focus on the human handler despite separation anxiety. That trust will likely translate to under saddle work.
  • Lateral work can be done in hand with the help of a dressage whip to help direct a horse’s haunches. Lateral movement from the walk is a good way to help a horse stretch and stay limber without putting stress on joints and soft tissues.
  • Walking through puddles is another easy lesson that doesn’t require a perfect surface. Water can reflect light and movement in unexpected ways, and even if you don’t plan to run your horse cross country and encounter water on a routine basis, odds are that he will encounter a puddle at some stage that must be crossed safely.
  • Standing and ground tying are underestimated skills. Horses, especially young or high-energy horses, need to become comfortable with some degree of boredom waiting for their class at a horse show, or waiting by a trailer. Standing by the mounting block is also a challenge for many horses, since they don’t realize the significance of the block and may be used to being mounted while in motion.
  • Ask your local farm supply shop for old sale banners that you can add to your arena so your horse has experience with something bright that may flap in the wind.
  • Trailer rides don’t always have to be about going somewhere for competition. Those who have a truck and trailer have the opportunity to not only haul horses to schooling shows as non-competitors to stand and watch the proceedings. They also have the chance to take horses on short errands, like running to the grocery store for 10 minutes and taking the horse back home. This will make traveling less of an “event” and keep horses relaxed about the process – especially if they have a hay net to munch on.

The post Webinar: Tips For How To Train When Riding Isn’t An Option appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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