Conditioning vs. Training

EQWO.net Guestblog with Adrienne Tomkinson

Conditioning vs. Training

There is a difference between Conditioning and Training your horse.  And every horse needs a balanced mixture of both.  What is the difference you ask? Conditioning is the physiological preparation of the body to help it cope with the demands of training.  Through conditioning, we improve fitness, strength and flexibility, thus also mental fitness from a sense of wellbeing.  Training deals specifically with the technical aspects of your chosen discipline.

Conditioning is important so you horse has the strength and fitness to perform the activities specific to your discipline © Shutterstock | fotokostic
Conditioning is important so you horse has the strength and fitness to perform the activities specific to your discipline © Shutterstock | fotokostic

Aerobic fitness deals with the cardiovascular system Improvements with aerobic fitness help with energy levels, recovery and the removal of the by-products of exercising through increased blood flow.
Tip 1 – Long bouts of trotting and cantering help increase fitness.  Regardless of discipline, aerobic fitness is imperative for all horses.  To improve fitness, gradually increase the time periods of bouts without breaks.

Spend lots of time in trot and canter to improve cardiovascular fitness © Shutterstock | Catwalk Photos
Spend lots of time in trot and canter to improve cardiovascular fitness © Shutterstock | Catwalk Photos

Strength training is a necessity
There are many methods to improve strength, such as active gymnastics exercises, lateral work and working on various surfaces.
Tip 2 – Improve strength by including gymnastics exercises (ridden or on the ground) once a week.  Riding on hard surfaces to strengthen bones and ligaments.  Riding on soft surfaces strengthens muscles.  Take care not to overdo it!

Activegymnastic exercises build up strength and flexibility of your horse. © Adrienne Tomkinson
Activegymnastic exercises build up strength and flexibility of your horse. © Adrienne Tomkinson

Flexibility exercises prevent muscle stiffness and loosens joints 
A stiff horse cannot move well or freely.  Gymnastics and stretching help improve flexibility.  Stretching exercises are best performed on the ground.
Tip 3 – Gymnastics exercises for flexibility include lots of circle and serpentine work.  Passive stretching should only be performed after working when the muscles are warm.  I recommend stretching each area once per week alternating between head and neck, back/tail and limbs each session.

Stretching exercises loosen joints and improve muscle function. © Adrienne Tomkinson
Stretching exercises loosen joints and improve muscle function. © Adrienne Tomkinson

The mental fitness of your horse is imperative to prevent souring and improve motivation
Varying your regime by including conditioning exercises keeps workouts interesting!  Overdoing intense training has a negative impact.
Tip 4 – Natural based exercises are proven to stimulate your horses mood.  Many automatic exercise machines increase stress.  Stress has negative affects on the body leading to exhaustion and sourness.  Avoiding stress benefits mental health for your horse.

Vary your riding to keep your horse happy and motivated. © Shutterstock | photosky
Vary your riding to keep your horse happy and motivated. © Shutterstock | photosky

Unlike technical training, natural conditioning can be started early.  Conditioning in young horses has many positive benefits.  It is easier to influence the body to adapt for future goals as it is already changing and developing.  Proper conditioning helps prevent many issues in young or older horses. Lets get started!!

Conditioning can be used as ground or under saddle training. © Shutterstock | groomee
Conditioning can be used as ground or under saddle training. © Shutterstock | groomee

Have questions or would like more information? Please contact me for a non-binding consultation:

adrienne@impuls-methode.at
+43 676 847 131 857

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This article has been written by Adrienne Tomkinson for EQUESTRIAN WORLDWIDE – EQWO.net and isn´t a press release. Copying is prohibited.