Get Your Horse Started With Careful and Regular Exercise and Training

Start the exercise and training regime in a slower pace, so that the horse stays comfortable during every stage of training.

Note: Have any doubt about your horse's health status? Talk to your Vet first!

Training and handling a horse can be a challenge.
Reading through a lot of specific literature, I found this easy to understand and hands on course to achieve exceptional results with your horse, which I would like to recommend. You certainly don't have to spend hours and hours per day training your horse, but it should be done on a regular basis.
Ideally an hour per day to achieve satisfying results.

A few rules for fitness training and exercises

  • - Start slowly and give your horse time to adjust to the exercise and training sessions. Never overdo it in the beginning!

  • - Be patient and disciplined.

  • - Work your horse actively and in a collected manner.

  • - Increase work slowly and gradually adjust your horse's body to new goals.

  • - Walk between every trot section until the breathing rate has come down to normal again.

  • - Feed for tomorrow's work, not for work done yesterday and give plenty fresh water. Give also appropriate salt (commercial supplements).

What do I do, if I don't have time for a drive?

Don't worry, if you miss out one or two days training. But missing more than this will set you back.

If there is no time for a drive out, try to exercise with a long-rein or lunge your horse for 10 - 15 minutes.

Example of a 4-Week Exercise Plan

Week 1

Let your horse walk 2 miles (3km) daily for 5-7 days.
  • - This gives the muscles, tendons and joints of the legs and the hooves time to get used to a daily exercise.

  • - The skin underneath the harness and girths will harden up and it will less likely develop harness galls and sores.

  • - Allways check before and after exercising skin, legs and hooves and other places, where you know your horse is prone to get sore and act immediately!

Week 2

Try this week to gradually increase the distance covered in walk. By the end of this week your horse might be able to do 3 - 4 miles (5-6 km).
  • - The horse should feel comfortable at all times!

  • - Adjust the walked distance very carefully to the ability of the horse.

Week 3

During the daily 3-4 miles (5-6 km) walk try to include two to three times trotting.
  • - A trotting phase should not exceed 2 minutes for the start.

  • - Let your horse recover well in a walking phase again. You can monitor its recovery by surveying its breathing rate.

  • - The time the breathing needs to come back to normal will get shorter and shorter (and your horse becomes fitter and fitter.)

Week 4

Carefully increase the length of the trotting phases to 3-4 minutes on your daily 4-5 miles (6-7 or 8 km) distance.
  • - Check always that your horse recovers well after each trot.

  • - If you are sure your horse is happy with this light work after week 4, you can move on to the next stage of fitness training and further exercise.

Next 4 - 6 Weeks

Keep in mind that being patient and taking things slower the more time has the horse's body to adjust to the exercise and the more completely fit it will become. After the first 4 weeks spent with walking and short trotting phases you can now start to work your horse a bit harder over the next 4 - 6 weeks:

  • - Slowly increase the daily training period
  • - Still do not exceed the 4 minutes of trot at a time

  • - Let your horse's breathing recover after each trot, but try to let your horse walk in a more active, stronger pace.

  • - When you are happy that your horse copes well on a 40 -50 minutes exercise drive using this training program and it is still fresh enough at the end of the drive, you can now move on to work your horse even harder.

To get more work out of your horse try to make it work properly all the time you are out on a drive:

Make it walk with more effort in a positive manner and take up more contact to the horse with the reins.

Collect your horse by taking up the reins and pushing the horse onto the bit with the help of your voice or a slight touch with the whip.

Walk it on a long rein only when you are almost at home.

Do the same if your horse trots: make it collect itself.

This way it will work out its muscles more effectively and uses therefor more energy.

And due to more effectful gymnastical exercise and training, it will be less proned to injuries!

Also it will be worked harder in a shorter time, so you won't have to do longer and longer exercise and training sessions.

Try not to spend more than 1 - 2 hours in one session, because this is really enough for regular exercise and training drives.

Now after 8 - 10 weeks (or more, if individually required to adjust your horse's body and health), you can exercise and train as following:
  • - Trot your horse for longer periods

  • - Continue to walk the horse in between

  • - Increase carefully the driven exercise and training distance

Getting more Horse Power in front of you!

Developing the muscles of the hindquarters results in a more powerful horse, which again makes it easier for your horse to pull the vehicle.

So, how do you do this?

If you have got any hills nearby, you can start the exercise and training with a not too long and steep section.
At the beginning let the horse walk up without stops and breaks.
If you are sure your horse is getting comfortable with this, you can let it trot up that slight hill.

If it gets tired e.g. halfway up, let it walk the rest, but don't stop.

You will find that your horse gradually is able to trot up and then continue trotting for another 100-200 metres.
If it has reached this grade of fitness and you are happy that your horse is feeling comfortable, you can move on to the next, slightly steeper hill and do the same again and so on.
If there are no hills in your region, you can drive on rougher ground, such as grass, mud or sand and do the same exercise regime as described before.
It is quite a good thing to do anyway, because you will notice that the vehicle drives and steers differently on deep ground.

Don't let your horse drop its head too far down, as this would decrease the hindquarter's use enormously.
It is normal for your horse to drop the head to some degree, but in achieving to hold the head a bit higher than it normally would do, those muscle masses will work a lot harder.
You don't have to use any plus straps or other unnatural methods, simply collect your horse as described above!

Another, very effectful exercise and training method is long-reining or ground driving.
A 10 - 15- minute session of long-reining is enough at a time, as a horse on double long reins has to work very hard.

And at last, when you can be happily out for about one and a half hours and your horse seems to reach home still in a reasonably fresh state, then your horse has achieved a good stage of fitness.

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