View Full Version : Warming up and cooling down your horse
18th Jan 2006, 05:11 AM
I tend to really enjoy the post-workout cool down on Skeeter, and have always cooled him down for quite a long time. I love a relaxing walk around the arena, and he is always cooled down by the time I get off. But in the event, I am on a tighter schedule at some point, what is the minimum amount of time one should cool a horse down for after riding (assuming a reasonable workout - but not overly intense)? Is it partly horse dependent?
Also, how long is it recommended to warm a horse up for (at the walk etc.) before starting more serious trot work? Again, I tend to enjoy the warmup, so I am pretty sure I am doing enough, but just wondering how long one should warm a horse up for before one really gets going. Do any of you do anything in particular for your warmup?
18th Jan 2006, 05:23 AM
It depends on the weather. (especially ours, because our chinooks play havoc on riders and horses bodies ;)) Warmup is used to get the circulation flowing, and in summer, most horses are pretty active already, do really don't require much walking to warmup. I'd say around 5 minutes or so of loosening them-I like to do lots of bending, leg yielding ect, to get their necks, ribs and polls loosened. But in winter time, most horses stay pretty quiet, joints stiffen up, they get cold, ect. So you need to take a longer time to get their body ready for exercise. In winter, I allow for 10-15 minutes of just walking because I do anything beyond that.
As for cool down, it does depend on how in shape your horse is and how strenuous the workout. Really, if the horse is panting and realyl hot, the best thing to do is get off, loosen the girth and walk him around until his chest is only warm, not hot. Getting the rider off his back and loosening the saddle allows air to circulate more, cooling them quicker. But I personally love walking out my horses on trails when I've finished riding LOL, so I understand where you're coming from.
18th Jan 2006, 10:59 AM
I normally do about 4/5 minutes of walk to warm up, maybe including some very relaxed jog/trot towards the end of that before asking for collection etc.
Cool down, I normally just walk until they stop breathing hard (until the breathing is back to normal) then I untack and rug with a cooler until dry then change to normal rug.
If it really cold I might take longer about both of these but as our weather isn't generally very cold its not narmally an issue.
18th Jan 2006, 05:35 PM
The first 5 minutes I ride is down at the walk, loose rein really just asking him to warm up. We will do some simple serpentines & gradually get him in the "work" mindset. Ater that, I always do at least 15 minutes of trot work before moving on to canter.
Re: cooling down - depends how sweaty he is. Normally as soon as we're done, I'll hop off, loosen the girth & handwalk him for 5 or 10 minutes. Then he gets untacked & put on cross ties with a cooler on. With the crazy weather, it usually takes at least 30 minutes before I'm comfortable that he's cooled out enough to go back in his stall.
19th Jan 2006, 03:58 AM
There is no mininum. It really is dependent on the horse, the workout, and the weather.
With my horse (who is on very limited work due to soundness issues), I have to give a VERY long warmup before I ask for anything because he is sore in the cold and seems to take a while before he loosens up enough to move forward freely. However, I don't have to spend much time cooling down as I don't work him hard enough to break a sweat and his heart rate quickly returns to normal (as it isn't increased much to begin with).
With other horses I ride, the relative length of warmup-cooldown is reversed, as they are loose and ready to go after 5-10 minutes, but they need 30 minutes of "cooldown" in order to dry off.
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