Performance horses can be at risk of injury due to the physical demands of their sport. Although accidents can’t be completely prevented, there are some strategies we can implement to assist our horses in having a long and healthy career.
Proper training and conditioning: Ensuring our horses are of correct fitness for the demands of their discipline is of upmost importance. Develop a structured training program that includes a variety of exercise and activities to cover all muscles groups, and as your horse becomes fitter, the intensity of such exercise can be gradually increased.
Nutritious Diet: A healthy balanced diet is essential for maintaining your horse’s overall well-being and health. In performance horses especially, providing the correct levels of energy, protein, salts, vitamins and minerals, is a critical component of success. Supplementation can also be incorporated into the diet specific to performance needs, such as Electrolytes to replace nutrients lost in sweat and aid recovery, or even joint supplements.
Regular Grooming and Care: Carrying out a regular grooming routine not only helps with skin condition, but allows us to monitor for any lumps, abrasions, or abnormalities. A care routine also extends to regular hoof care, dental care, and vaccinations, as well as treatments such as massages.
Use the right equipment: Both the combination of correct and well-fitting equipment can aid in comfort and reducing tack related injuries. Ensure you have the correct safety equipment for your sport, such as protection boots for jumping and cross country. Regularly check both the condition and cleanliness of your tack, replacing items that may be worn out and removing any dried sweat to reduce the risk of irritation. Check that all your tack is well fitted before each ride and monitor for any abnormalities, such as rubbing, after each ride.
Warm Up and Cool Down: Following an effective warm-up routine prepares your horses muscles and joints for the activities that are ahead. A gradual increase in intensity as you warm up will allow the rider to monitor for any abnormalities in movement or breathing. Providing a proper cool down post-exercise is also crucial in allowing the dispersion of lactic acid, bringing down the heart rate, and reducing the onset of conditions such as tying up.
Ranvet’s complementary Diet Evaluation service can help you ensure that your performance horse is receiving a nutritious and balanced diet that will aid in their success. You can submit your diet online HERE and one of our nutrition advisors will be in contact to provide you with a full report.