So this week I asked for requests! I had two people ask for two things that go hand in hand… in my opinion! Let’s see if I can help these ladies out!
One asked “how do we leg up a barrel horse that has been turned out for a bit” and the other asked “how can older women get “back” into riding after being out of it for a long while”. See what I mean? I think I can come up with ways for the horse and the rider to work together! Let’s give this a go!
First… when ever legging a horse back up, make sure everything is up to date! Don’t slack! Deworming, dental, vaccines, farrier, body work… all detrimental to the well being of the horse! Also, for horse and rider, STRETCH!!!!! Lynx and I have a series of stretches mentioned in previous blogs! Humans, stretch like you are getting ready to do hot yoga! Touch your toes and HOLD for 10 seconds! Step out and touch your opposite toe and hold and vice versa! Stretch your front legs and back legs (that is a joke) and don’t forget your shoulders!!!!! Also, make sure you, yes you, are properly geared up for riding! Good sports bra, comfy jeans, good boots that fit, etc!!!
Moving forward… when getting back into riding for the horse and/or the rider, we must determine WHY the time off. For example, did the horse have an injury? Did the human have an injury? Once you have been cleared by your vet/doctor to begin riding, that is literally the first step. The easiest step is getting cleared to ride! The next step is the hardest… starting to ride AGAIN! So after all of your gear checks and stretching, it’s time to decide how to proceed. For me, I like to lounge or work the horse in the round pen before putting my boot in the stirrup! It might be fear, it might be me watching the horse for signs of distress, it might be a easy way to get the necessary “walk/trot” warm up in for my mount! Or all of the above!
Horses, like humans, need to be warmed up before riding! I prefer to long trot lynx 3-5 laps each direction in my field which is about 1/2 mile of long trotting. Then I will progress into loping. Again, 3-5 laps each direction. If we have had time off, this will be more trotting, less loping and it will make the rider a bit sore! So I also walk and stretch while my horse is walking!!!!!!!! Touch my toes in the saddle!!! Reach back and touch his tail! Reach forward and touch his ears! Trust me! STRETCH! Also, this gives your horse a chance to walk! The more you ride, the more you warm up! But start off with more trotting and less loping!
My first rides after time off normally last about 15-20 minutes. I don’t want to push too much on a horse that is out of shape or that can re-injure himself. Also, my body will be screaming by this point! I highly recommend unsaddling then brushing the horse down from head to toe while stretching yourself as well. Make sure said horse is 100% cooled down before turning them out! Also check any prior injuries to make sure you did not re-injure them!!! Then go in the house and soak yourself. You will be sore!
One thing about rehab and conditioning is… repeat! Yes! You must work with this horse daily! However, it doesn’t have to be strenuous daily! In fact, day two might be a nice leisurely walk. It would be good for both of you to ride on day two but also take it easy! I prefer to start with working out every other day and easy ride in between. Take your time! Both of you need to build back up!
If you and your horse are sore, might I recommend a product that I personally use??? Summit! Now they have a human formula too!!! Feel free to ask me all about it! In all seriousness, legging a horse and yourself back up takes time! 🤟🏻