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Starting a conditioning program.
By Nancy S. Loving, DVM
In the wild, a band of horses will travel far distances each day in search of forage and water. It is not uncommon for wild horse herds to range 10 to 20 miles in a day. But what happens when we take our normally sedentary, domesticated horses out of a small pasture or paddock confinement and attempt to put them to work in athletic sports? The situation becomes more complex. For one, a horse in athletic pursuits is usually asked to move out at a faster and more consistent pace than what he might select given his own options, and he must carry your weight on his back during these exertions.
To make the journey as safe as possible for your horse, you’ll want to commit to a conditioning program. The goal of conditioning is to develop the horse’s structural and metabolic foundation to withstand the stress of exercise with minimal injury. A horse that is brought along too quickly is destined to fail structurally. An athletic horse doesn’t just pop out of the pasture ready to compete. You should outline your personal goals, then plan a conditioning strategy that considers your horse’s starting point and the demands of your desired equine discipline. Taking the time to build a structural foundation will pay dividends in your horse’s future performance...
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