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Bring Your Horse Back into Work with Flora Harris

At the end of each season we like to give most of our horses a good holiday before bringing them back in for their winter training. 

It used to be very normal to turn horses away for around three months and not bring them back until January, but now it is much more common to give them a shorter break of between 4-6 weeks. This is mainly due to the fact that this is the optimum period of time to allow horses to rest and recuperate both mentally and physically, but does not result in too much loss of strength, condition and muscle tone; thus making their training much more productive and keeping them in much better shape overall. Our horses are turned out in thick rugs and are fed and checked twice a day to make sure they are enjoying themselves and maintaining their condition. 

After their break we then like to hack our horses for approx. another month in order to regain some fitness and general strength and start to re-condition them with some varied cross-training. At this time of year, it’s a challenge to find suitable going as we rarely trot on the roads but we try and do plenty of walking up hills and get on some bridle-ways or fields whenever we can to trot and canter on varying terrain.

After this we gradually build up with light schooling, lunging and pole work, all the time looking to keep the work interesting and varied. We also use a water-treadmill for some of our horses which we’ve found can really help their core strength and fitness. As the season draws closer, we focus on more specific dressage and show-jumping training and start to head out to dressage and show-jumping competitions as well as cross-country schooling and finally we begin to add some fast work in for the more experienced horses. 

The main thing we try to achieve is a varied and interesting program that suits each horses’ individual needs and enables them to start their season fully prepared and in the best possible place both mentally and physically. 

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