In the wild, horses spend much of their time grazing in the endless meadows and slowly moving from one tuft of grass to the next. They cover several kilometers a day. However, if they are held by humans, things are different. Especially when it comes to stalls, horses lack the exercise they so desperately need. We will show you what to look out for when walking out for the horse so that your darling is happy and satisfying.
The Importance of Exercise for Your Horse
That is the most important motto for horses. Because our four-legged friends need daily exercise and the associated social contacts in the herd. Pasture and/or paddock are indispensable for them – no matter what time of year!
Above all, walking slowly while grazing is the main part of everyday life for horses in nature and they do not want to do without it even in human hands. Since the faster trot and gallop paces are often encouraged when riding out, it is important that the horses can move at their own pace in the pasture or paddock.
Horses can move in different ways, either by themselves or by their riders. In the following, we will go into the different variants.
Horse Running in a Pasture
The pasture is in most cases the ideal way to give the horse the necessary exercise. It comes closest to the natural needs of horses because here the animals can graze freely and romp around with their fellow species. The joints and cartilage are also well hydrated and loosened due to the even movement when grazing without major impact loads. This can prevent joint inflammation.
Sufficient Exercise on the Paddock
If the pasture has to be spared because it is too wet or it has frozen over in winter, the paddock comes into play. Since there are usually only small or no meadow areas here, it is important to give the horses exercise incentives. Otherwise, they just stand in one place, smacking their lips – where the feed troughs are.
So-called adventure trails, for example, encourage movement. Here the horses can perceive different sensory impressions, sniff their fill, feel structures, and nibble on something here and there. In addition, the feed and water trough can be placed some distance apart so that the horse is forced to take a short walk. The distribution of the roughage on offer over several places has also proven its worth.
Riding as a Source of Movement
Riding out in and of itself does not yet cover the daily need for exercise that a horse has, but it does contribute to it. This balance is particularly important in winter when the horse spends more time in the box and on the paddock. Since the horse often lacks the incentive to move beyond the pasture – the freshly smelling grass – it likes to stay where it is.
So what do you do as a rider? Quite simple: overcome your own weaker self and dare to ride even in almost arctic temperatures. You don’t have to gallop through the snow – even if that can be nice – but can also take a leisurely step ride.
Step Ride – a Leisurely Round
Since walking is such a big part of a horse’s life it is definitely not to be neglected. Before each training session, the horses should be moved at a walking pace for at least ten minutes. This loosens the joints and stimulates the synovial fluid. This prevents joint inflammation. However, if the horse has had one before, it doesn’t hurt to extend the time to 15 to 20 minutes.
By the way: horses should be warmed up sufficiently, especially before dressage and show jumping. In addition to the pure step, there are also relaxation and gymnastics exercises.
Sufficient Exercise for Foals
Foals can be let outside in their first lifetime – they especially need social contact and love to romp around on the meadow. However, attention must be paid to the weather here – the young freeze faster than their parents and should therefore not stand in the wet and cold.
It is also important to bring the foals into the barn for the first few weeks if they show signs of exhaustion. Here you can relax in peace and quiet.
Conclusion: How Much Exercise Does My Horse Need Now?
In the wild, horses gather in about 15 to 16 walking hours every day. That is hardly achievable in the posture, but we can do our best. This is guaranteed by the fact that we give our darling the maximum time in the paddock or paddock and take him on long rides. Overall, the time in the box should be kept as short as possible.