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For many of us, Spring is right around the corner, and we are starting to think about spending more time riding, whether that is preparing for a show season, looking forward to long trail rides, or just enjoying time in the saddle. Before we get too excited about all our riding goals, it is important to remember that our horses may be quite out of shape. A good conditioning plan can increase your horse’s fitness, preparing them for whatever type of riding you are looking to do, and reducing the chance of exercise related injuries.

Preparing Your Horse for Spring

I have always paid close attention to conditioning, a few years ago I prepared for and rode in several 25 mile endurance rides. It was a lot of fun, plus I learned a ton from the experiences. Now I focus on more general conditioning for my horses, and in today’s video, I share several principles that will apply to any type of riding.

In the video below, I share a basic 4-week conditioning schedule, plus discuss a few important factors to consider when creating and following a basic fitness plan for your horse.

Do you have any other equine fitness and conditioning tips? Put them in the comments below!

See you in the comments,


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15 Responses

  1. ooooooh! I’ve never conditioned my horse for riding in the Spring. hahahaaa Looking forward to watching the video and thank you for sharing! 🙂

  2. Hi Callie
    I already bought my horse thanks for your helpfully info!
    It is also the perfect timing for prepare him for the spring conditioning and to start working together but the question is:
    If he is going to work harder than he used to, how about the food?
    Is it going to be necessary to feed him more than he was usually eating? Or should I increase the amount of food mybe? Also if there is something like a supplement (something natural) that I can give him to improve his performance or this isn’t necessary?
    Thank you a lot

    1. Hi Neila,

      Again, the real answer is, “it depends.” Depends on your horse, his metabolism, and his workload. Keep a close eye on his weight and look to increase his calories through feeding more forage if possible.

  3. Since I ride various lesson horses, it is good to know how to recognize when the horse is tired and has had enough. Thanks for this info.

  4. Thanks for the video they are very informative. Was wondering you talked about condition of the horse but what about the rider? Are there any work outs you’ll recpmend for the rider or rider horse together. I done some lesson but I’m getting my first official horse soon. So try to keep us both healthy. Looking to be mostly trial ridding with her.. Thanks and keep up the good work

    1. Hi Thomas,
      Thanks for your comment! Good question, as fitness is certainly equally as important for the rider as for the horse. I personally feel that any exercise you enjoy enough to stay consistent with is the best, however I do find that activities such as yoga and pilates that incorporate a lot of body awareness work with the exercise are especially beneficial for riding.

  5. Hi Callie,
    A perfectly timed video after our long (never ending ??) NJ winter. Looking forward to taking our training outside where my QH is much happier ! Ring work over the winter important but a tad boring for both of us no matter how many games I come up with 😀

  6. I am looking forward to getting back in the saddle this spring. We’ve had a tough winter in Atlantic Canada. My turnout paddock and riding ring have three feet of snow and at the rate this season is going, it seems like it will be July before it all melts away. I plan to get both of my horses back into
    shape slowly with lots of walking and trotting. I don’t compete anymore, so I can take my time and recondition them at a much more relaxed pace. They both have developed hay bellies over the winter and my goal for them is to tone up their tummies.

  7. Thank you for another excellent video! Have just been starting this process with my horse Joe and your info gives me more confidence that we’re on the right path.

  8. Usually I ride year around. There’s an indoor arena where I board and am confined to that until Spring. So usually I don’t need to do a special Spring conditioning program. But my horse has been off for 6 weeks, due to a sole bruise. He is outside 24/7 , but it’s very cold up North and the horses tend to just stand around in the Winter. I’ll be starting him back slowly following your guide but have some questions.

    When you say, 10 min. walking and 10 minutes trotting….. do you mean 10 minutes straight at a walk for warm up, and then trot for 10 minutes straight? Or do you mean mixing it up?… walk a couple laps, trot a couple laps, walk again etc.? I like to end the ride with walking for his cool down. So do I save part of the 10 min walk for the end?

    Then in week 3, I’m not sure about these extra intervals. If I put in 3 intervals of more strenuous work, do those minutes take the place of some of the trotting minutes?

  9. Callie, my trainer suggests that I always lunge my horse for 5 to 10 minutes before riding. Is this something that you advocate? If not..why and should I modify this principal?

    1. Hi Mary Ann, Lungeing is most often used before a ride to get a horse moving and therefore more relaxed before a ride. However, it is used, whether for this reason or for fitness, the key is really to do it right. Meaning spending the time to teach the horse how to carry himself balanced and with correct bending on the circle. When used this way it can be great for the fitness and strength of the horse, however if the horse goes around the circle with his head to the outside and leaning in the extra time spent lungeing will only make this poor movement pattern worse.

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