Be a Healthy Horseman

Contributed By: Valerie Mellema, Author and Founder of Gray Horse Publishing

As equestrians and horsemen, it’s our natural tendency to think of our horse’s health and fitness level first. We’re constantly monitoring their body condition and their feed regimen. We add supplements as needed and try to ensure ample turnout and exercise.

Photo Courtesy of Marea Breedlove Photography

Photo Courtesy of Marea Breedlove Photography

However, when it comes to our own health and fitness, it’s easy to put that on the back burner. Sure, we know we’re supposed to eat healthy and we’re supposed to exercise, but doesn’t riding and barn chores count as exercise? Well, yes, they do, but will they keep you at the fitness level we need to be healthy and active partners with our horse? Not necessarily. And, what about that burger you scarfed down quickly for lunch? Not exactly nutritious.

If you live in a state with cold winters (or you just have a few unseasonably cold and wet winters like we’ve experienced here in East Texas), you’re probably ready as performance season nears to condition yourself and your horse. After all, you might have those white breeches to fit into or that nice show shirt to button up. The route of conditioning is based on the previous experience your horse has, and on his current fitness level. Condition your horse in a slow and regulated way to avoid injury. In the same manner, exercise yourself and eat right, so that you’ll both be in shape for competition.

Every horse and rider is unique. There’s no set number of days or weeks by which every pair will be ready to perform again. The Healthy Horseman is a guide to help you focus your attention on both horse and rider and to be the best team you can be.

We are excited to have Valerie Mellema as a new contributor to The AmeriStall Journal. You can read more of her work by visiting her blog or shopping her online store.