Wednesdays with Jen (Episode 6) Working out an exercise plan for your horse

Jenny is an Equine Physiotherapist, Rehabilitation Specialist and Spinal Manipulation Therapist, and has been working with horses professionally for over 10 years. 

We asked Jenny to describe a bit about her work.....

''Firstly I absolutely LOVE my work with horses! I have become specialised over time, in a few key areas: back pain in horses, postural and movement improvement, and rehabilitation after injury. These are areas that really motivate me as I see such big positive transformations in horses going through rehabilitation or posture/movement improvement! 

I live in Staffordshire in the Midlands (UK), and over the last couple of years have developed a variety of training courses, ebooks, my blog, a membership and zoom calls, all to enable ways to work together without location being an issue! 

I love working with horses owners who want to learn more about their horses, and want to improve their horses so that they can be the very best version of themselves!''

Jenny has written a series of blogs for Horzehoods readers, on some of her specialised areas, so we hope you will find them interesting and informative...we are looking forward to reading them too. Each episode will release every Wednesday. 

Whether going through rehabilitation, bringing your horse back into work, correcting your horses posture and movement, following kissing spine diagnosis or any other type of injury, starting young horses, working with senior horses to improve and maintain their flexibility, horses with arthritis…. ALL of these horses will benefit from working on the important foundations of correct movement!

BLOG: Working out an exercise plan for your horse
In my rehabilitation work, I always work in a progressive manner, meaning make changes and increases in demand slowly so that the horses structures (bones, ligaments, tendons, fascia and muscles) have time to adapt...this is how we avoid injury / re-injury. And I treat general work plans, fittening plans, bringing back into work after time off, postural improvement plans in the same way, and apply the same guidelines...slow and steady is best! 
If you were to go from zero exercise to running a 5k race, you wouldn't start on day 1 or week 1 with running a 5k!! You would start with walking and build some strength and fitness before starting to add bits of jogging in and then working on your stamina towards the end goal of the 5k run over a period of time. and it's exactly the same with horses! 
The problem we tend to have with horses is we look at them as being big and strong...but ultimately 'behind the scenes' are they actually strong enough, fit enough, do they have enough stamina developed, can they actually safely do what we are asking of them, have they been prepared thoroughly enough?
And this is where exercise planning comes in...take some time to think about your horses level of fitness / flexibility / stamina now, and where you want to get to over a given timeframe (I tend to work in 6-8 weeks chunks), and look at how you can GRADUALLY get from A to B! 
I mentioned cross training in one of the previous blogs, and this is usually my recommendation with exercise some variety into your horses regime, and train them to be able to do all things not just 1 thing! Consider fitness, stamina, flexibility, postural work, work for the mind AND the body! 

Types of exercise to include in a mixed plan....:

*Core exercises - always one of the most important exercises to add in daily! 

*In hand work - great for flexibility and symmetry, as well and organisation of the body in movement 

*Hacking - great to get your horse out of the arena! Great for strengthening and cardiovascular fitness 

*Polework - even if just walking over poles, this exercise helps with joint mobility and equal stepping

*Lateral work - in hand and/or ridden, whichever way you do it, learning some lateral exercises is really beneficial for your horses body

*Fast work - if appropriate for your horse, canter or gallop work really opens up the body! 

*Slopes/hill work - again, if appropriate for your horse, great for strengthening the hindquarters! 
*Non-ridden work - always add in a couple of days per week of non-ridden exercise 
If you're working on all of these areas in a steady and progressive manner, your horse can adapt to the gentle increases with ease, and there is a much lower risk of injury. 
I hope you have enjoyed this series of blog posts! I am really passionate about sharing my knowledge, I really have learnt so much in my career, and am really motivated when I see horses literally transform by working on the foundations of posture, crookedness and movement!! 
HH readers discount code! You can get 20% off all of my online courses and the course bundles, by using the code HH20 at checkout on my site! Courses: Core Exercises, In Hand Exercises, Massage, Developing Correct Movement in the horse. And more coming soon!!

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