It is very important to a horses health to exercise him on a regular basis in order to keep the horse loose and relaxed. Prior to exercising, the horse would need to warm up, like a person would warm up by stretching before an exercise routine. In order for the horse to be collected, supple and loose, this is essential. This is most especially important with younger horses that take longer to get into collected work.
After he is loose and relaxed in the back, the warm up can expand to include a nice working trot and a working canter transitions in a large circle. This is not an easy transition to accomplish without the horse becoming quicker and without becoming too deep or hollowed in the back. Yet its important to carry out the transitions from canter to trot. Be careful not to overwork or over stretch your horse at any time.
When warming up any horse, his age and condition should be taken into careful consideration when determining the amount of time that should be put into the warm up. Some younger horses may have to expend an entire ride in working canter and trot in order to get them steady and loose. For some older horses, a warm up may only take a matter of minutes. If the horse is at a show and becomes really nervous, then it may take longer to warm him up. In any case, the warm up process should be made as short as possible to refrain from exhausting the horse before the actual exercises begin.
One good way to warm up is to apply passive stretching exercises that should be done after riding and after removing all the tack. Start by picking up each leg individually and holding it without actually trying to stretch it for about ten seconds. This should be done once to each leg. This stretch can be repeated for four days, allowing him time to accept standing on three legs. As he gets use to this exercise, he should start to lift each foot in anticipation to each leg stretch. Although this stretch is very easy and safe to do, it is best to begin with small rotations at first.
You can achieve a boost in circulation by combining massage with stretching. This will allow an increased ranged of motion and a decrease of constrictions. Once the rotations have been mastered, holding the stretch for five seconds can provide a more mild stretch. In addition, add the step of placing each of his legs gently back to its original position. Horses understand respect and will learn to trust id he is handled carefully. When these easy stretches are mastered, then the more difficult lateral and backward stretching exercising can begin. Try to learn the difference between a normal movement and resistance. Learning the correct feel of these movements, is the only way of knowing how to stretch the muscles to the full capacity.
These stretching exercise may take up to two weeks to learn. Be careful no tot overstretch or hold a stretch for too long, this can harm the hamstring area in the horse. Choose one exercise at a time and find a stretch that the horse will enjoy. Some horses may become more interested and more willing to participate its made into a game.
Always end the warm up sessions on a positive note. Its best to cool down with a different movement than from what has been worked on and that is a movement that the horse is very relaxed about and good at or even adding a carrot reward. With regular stretching and exercise, your horse will learn to look forward to his or her routine. It is good, quality time you can spend with your horse, too.