As winter comes to an end, many horse owners may find themselves with horses that have developed a "hay belly" due to decreased activity levels and increased time spent eating hay. While it's important to get your horse back into shape for the upcoming riding season, it's equally important to start slow and gradually increase their exercise to avoid injury and strain.
Before starting any exercise program with your horse, it's important to have a veterinary check-up to ensure they are healthy and able to handle the physical demands of exercise. This will also give you a baseline to track your horse's progress and identify any potential health issues.
Once your horse has been cleared for exercise, it's important to start slow and gradually increase the intensity and duration of their workouts. This may mean starting with short walks or light lunging sessions and gradually increasing the time and intensity over several weeks.
In addition to gradually increasing exercise, it's important to pay attention to your horse's diet and ensure they are getting the proper nutrition to support their increased activity levels. This may mean adjusting their hay and grain intake to ensure they are getting enough energy and nutrients to fuel their workouts.
It's also important to listen to your horse and watch for signs of fatigue or discomfort. If your horse is struggling or showing signs of pain, it's important to stop and re-evaluate your exercise program to avoid injury and strain.
Remember, getting your horse back into shape after a winter of decreased activity takes time and patience. By starting slow and gradually increasing exercise, you can help ensure your horse stays healthy and injury-free as you prepare for the upcoming riding season.