10 Steps to Keep Your Horse Fit for Show Jumping

warmblood horses for sale Texas USA

Show jumping is a popular equestrian event and is organized across all major horse-riding competitions in the world including the most popular ones – the Grand Prix and the Derby. There are various show jumping types from Vertical (or upright) to the oxer, triple bar and cross rail, and beyond. Though customized training is also required for each, here we are listing 10 common steps that can help you keep your horse fit for any type of show jumping competition.

1. Healthy Diet

Good health and a healthy diet are closely linked. Feeding the right diet improves equine health and performance. All warmblood horses for sale at Happy Comly receive personalized diets based on their body weight, condition score, discipline, environmental factors, as well as rider ability. The diet comprises fiber (hay, haylage, and pasture), starch-based ingredients, such as oats and barley, salt and electrolytes (sodium, potassium, and chloride), anti-oxidants, water, and much more in appropriate amounts. This balanced diet improves the horse’s gastrointestinal function, hydration, electrolyte status, and substrate selection during exercises.

2. Health checkup

It’s important to protect your horse from diseases and help them build immunity. Let your horse go through a routine health checkup for common equine diseases like:

  1. Equine Influenza
  2. Rhinopneumonitis/Equine Herpesvirus (EHV)
  3. Equine Encephalomyelitis (“Sleeping Sickness”)
  4. Equine Infectious Anemia Virus (EIA)
  5. West Nile Virus
  6. Streptococcus Equi (“Strangles”)
  7. Tetanus (“Lockjaw”)
  8. Healthy barn condition
  9. Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis

If you are planning a warmblood horse import, then you should be more serious about its health checkup. Appoint a certified veterinary expert. Remember, it’s an important criterion for getting the approval of the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) for the import.

Exercises and Training

3. Conditioning

Before you start the full-fledged exercise regime, conditioning your horse is important. You can help the animal by loosening up the stiffness of the muscles. This involves a series of warm-up steps for two to four weeks. You may include a 20-minute riding session followed by a 10-minute walk/10-minute trot. Gradually increase the duration of each step you follow, and incorporate new ones to raise the level of difficulty.

4. Lunging or long reining

The lunge workout improves and strengthens the muscles that go under the saddle. Add poles or transitions to keep the work varied and up the fitness factor. Practice long-rein, canter, and lateral movements along with the usual circular ones. Lunging can be quite a strain on horses, especially, if you have imported a young warmblood horse. Start slowly from one or two days a week to five days a week. Warm up and cool down correctly.

5. Hacking or Trail Riding

Satisfaction and happiness indirectly boost j fitness. Instead of drilling your horse in the training session, go on long hacks. This will also help the horse to build its stamina. Slow and steady wins the race, this formula fits here quite aptly. Assess the level of fitness of your horse companion and start with small hacking trips, adding more miles gradually.  Let the horse enjoy the ride, include walks, trots, and running, and make it fun.

6. Hill Work

It is easier to go downhill, but you can only view the path from the top. This favorite quote from Arnold Bennett can be a fitness secret for jumper horses for sale. Going downhill builds strength and endurance and motivates the horse and rider to excel mentally. Going up and down over hills at varying paces works all the different areas of your horse’s body and brings you closer to the fitness goal.

7. Interval Training

Interval training is sandwiching a low-intensity exercise between two high-intensity exercises and vice versa. This improves the circulatory and muscular systems of the horse. You can also apply the same on yourself to keep yourself fit.

8. Polework Exercises

Take your horse into the barn or an open grassland. You need three to four, or more poles to begin with. Arrange the poles horizontally on the ground in different patterns. Some design ideas are shown for your reference in the picture.

Four Jump Exercises

Arrange the poles in different fashions shown and make your horse cross them at varying speeds. These exercises help build up concentration and agility, which are both important for show jumping. Start from the simple to complex exercises and slow to fast paces.

9. Gymnastic Gridwork Exercises

Gymnastic gridwork exercises are a great means to improve the jumping technique of your horse. The exercise includes canter poles, bouncers, single fences, and an oxer. Do not make the animal jump too high. Focus on teaching your horse what to do with its legs, to snap up its front legs, and let out its back legs. Before taking on the exercises, warm your horse up for jumping several fences in a row.

10. Backing Exercises

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When a horse backs up, its hind legs have to endure most of its own body weight as well as that of its rider. To maintain a firm position, the animal is required to balance the whole body. The hind legs work in coordination with the entire body. This is a good strengthening and balancing exercise. Backing with a rider requires more strength. Initially, let the horse do it alone. You may apply different inclinations. For example, you can take the horse uphill or downhill.

You may also avail a full range of horse boarding and training services from Comly Sport Horses. This is a leading institution for training and sale of sport horses and is run by Happy Comly, an accomplished show jumping/hunting champion and lover of horses since childhood.