Our barrel horses are athletes. I think we can all agree on that! When you have to sprint, turn, and stop, you will eventually have to deal with pain. Let’s look at this from the human side for a quick second.
Now I am not a runner. In fact, if you see me running on two feet, start running because something big is chasing me! But I do know a thing or two about runners. They build up to reach speed and/or distance. They don’t just wake up one day and say they will run five miles as fast as they can and do it. They start by building up to that speed or distance. They stretch. They breathe. They go slowly. Then they build up to their potential. They will have set backs. When they have set backs, they slow it down and start back slowly. Most runners develop knee/ankle issues over time and take something to help with that. They use braces and generally take care of their body. They regulate their diet and maintain a certain BMI to have enough energy to use but not too much weight to carry.
Back to our horses. Do we just turn them out for a month, pull them up, load them and go? No. Why not? Because they need to slowly be conditioned to run. We must ride our horses to build them back up to running condition. If we don’t, we run a greater risk of causing injuries. Your performance will be lacking due to your horse not being in shape. Your horse will be sore after that run.
For me, I have a certain set of goals to reach at home before hauling to a race. It varies from horse to horse, but, is the same concept. We start with working up to a 3 mile workout. Sometimes I have to stop at 2 miles if my horse is out of shape. I gauge his heart rate, sweat and respiration rate. I like to trot for about a mile them lope. I have been known to use my four wheeler to do a 3 mile extended trot. I want my horse to be able to handle 3 miles with light sweat, slightly above resting HR and RR. If they are foaming up and dying after 3 miles of long trotting, they are no where ready for a race. It’s a process. Typically I work my horses 3-5 days a week.
Because they are athletes, I need to make sure they are getting the right nutrition and they are on an AWESOME joint supplement! Core Balance is a supplement that helps to enhance your ration to enhance the athlete’s ability to continue training with less pain and build muscle! Core Balance is teaming up with Steprite Plus, an amazing joint supplement, to provide all over body conditioning support! I personally LOVE Steprite Plus! The Joints need lubrication to work. I have tried a lot of supplements on the market and Steprite Plus made a huge difference compared to many other supplements on the market. Lynx loves the taste and is a lot more supple. It has reduced his soreness all over his body. He is feeling so much better after being on it for 45 days!
Aside from diet and supplements, our workouts need to be effective. Can your horse trot non-stop for 15 minutes? 20 minutes? How about 30 minutes? Set your goals and see where you are at on the scale of “in shape”. The more your ride, the more you will understand why your horse blows out the first barrel or gets attitude in the alley. It might be a simple pain issue that you can control by putting them on a supplement or by getting them into better shape! We also do a lot of stretches!!! Google Equine stretches!
Just remember that your horses must be maintained. They must be in shape. That cannot happen without you doing your part. Don’t just load them up after a month off and expect them to run. You might end up crippling your horse or causing other issues. Make your list. Make your goals. Track your progress. I love my EquiTrack app on my phone! It really helps me keep track of my distance and speed on my horses. Check it out! #resbarrelracing #stepriteplus #corebalance #equineathlete