.1. Build him back into work gradually especially if he has had time off. We're always short of time these days, and trying to get your horse fit too quickly doesn’t allow the bones, joints and soft tissue to adapt and strengthen, leading to an increased risk of injury or lameness. For a horse who has had 3 months or more off , work on a basic outline of 6 weeks in walk, 6 weeks in walk and trot, then 6 weeks in walk, trot and canter, before you star jumping.
2. Warm him up without a rider on. We tend to think of ‘warming up’ as ridden exercises, but we’re quite a weight on our horse’s back, and he’d be better able to carry us if his muscles were warmed up before we got on. Lead him around the yard for 5 minutes before you get on, in walk and trot, and you’ll soon feel the benefits for yourself as well.
3. Bend him lots. Stiffness in the neck is detrimental to the whole horse. Use carrot stretches from the ground, but rather than using carrots and risking having your finger bitten off, put a few grass nuts or herbal treats in the bottom of a feed scoop and use that to encourage his head round. If he keeps moving away from you, do the stretches in a stable where his bottom is in one corner, so that he can’t easily move his body backwards or away from you. That way he’s more likely to focus on bending his neck around to get the treat.
Chartered Veterinary Physiotherapist and Equine Behavioural Consultant
Tel: 07976 413488 Web:www.thehorsephysio.co.uk