One of my all time favorite past times is working out, specifically weight lifting. But when I’m not lifting weights you will probably find me doing a HIIT workout or High Intensity Interval Training.
(Hold up. Before you push your horse make sure that he is capable of doing the workout, is wearing protective boots, and that the weather isn’t too hot!)
High Intensity Interval Training is a form of a workout that burns calories super quickly and replaces fat with muscle much quicker than other forms of working out. It also improves endurance like no other! HIIT is comprised of long amounts of a low intensity workout followed by short bursts of high intensity workouts. For example, I could jog for 45 seconds, followed by a 15 second sprint for a total of 1 minute. I would repeat this exercise 10-15 times for a 10-15 minute workout.
I decided to give this try with Penelope. Now this HIIT workout is fully a HIIT workout because I didn’t repeat the exercise enough, but its a start! My fitness ride comprised of:
- A light warm up. Just to get Penelope’s muscles moving without over doing it.
- 2 minutes of walking
- 5 minutes of trotting
- 3 minutes of cantering
- 5 minutes of trot
- 15+ minutes of walking with a loose girth on a long rein to allow Penelope to stretch and breathe.
So like I said, if I wanted to really make this a HIIT workout I would have repeated the exercise more than twice. And because of this I probably would have lowered the amount of trotting & cantering 🙂 However, I really enjoyed this workout & was so happy I was able to incorporate some of my own workouts into Penelope’s fitness!
Now, if you are going to push your horse’s endurance and challenge them with a difficult you need to make sure you take proper care of your pony afterwards (and make sure that your horse is capable of completing the workout ;)).
Proper care can include many, very important things:
- Cooling out
- Letting your pony catch his breath is vital! Keep him moving so don’t let him stand still. You want to keep his legs moving so he doesn’t swell up & so his muscles don’t tighten. I would also recommend loosening your girth. This allows your pony to take deeper breaths & cool out even quicker.
- Hosing off
- Hosing your pony off is very important for many reasons: sweat, body temperature, and comfort. A sweaty pony makes for a hot and uncomfortable pony. Make sure you horse your horse off & use a curry comb to scrub his coat free of any deep sweat. Hopefully your water is cool so that it will lower your pony’s body temperate & cool his muscles. We want to keep our horses as happy and healthy as possible, right?
- Our horse’s tendons and ligaments are one of the most important parts of them. Without tendons and ligaments our horses couldn’t walk. These two structures are very fragile & require loads of care. It is necessary that your horses tendons and ligaments are cooled out before he goes back to pasture! Improper cooling out can lead to swelling and stocking up. And HEAT IS NOT OUR FRIEND! Yes, heat in your horses leg is horrible! Heat can indicate soreness, lameness, and more! Sooooo ice! You can use ice boots, liniment, a cold hose, or buckets filled with ice water. Any one or a combination of a these can be used to cool your horses legs down & pull heat out 🙂
- Wrapping is another way to protect your horse’s legs after a tough ride. Poultice (a clay-like substance) is one of the best products of the market to draw heat from your horse’s legs. It is best used under standing wraps in the stall to prevent swelling & NO HEAT (yay!). Just please don’t wrap your pony if he is stabled in a paddock… a loose wrap could end poorly.
- Just like humans, horses need water (well duh). But they drink a lottttt of it! Immediately after your ride, make sure you offer your pony water! Have at least 5 gallons available please, your pony might drink every drop of it!
- Finally, sweating causes a loss of electrolytes. Make sure your horse has some source of electrolytes. This could include a salt block in his paddock, loose salt in his feed, electrolytes in his water, etc. Either way, make sure your horse is replenishing his lost electrolytes after his hard workout!
Don’t be afraid to do some fitness on your pony just please please please make sure you are taking good care of him! He will thank you!
~Madison & Penelope