For this month’s blog I am going to talk about why we should be giving our horses rest days.
I often hear people say they ride their horse every day for one reason or another, “my horse gets bored” “my horse needs to keep fit” “I need to keep his weight down” etc etc etc but here are a few reasons why horses NEED rest days!
- So any micro-trauma’s in the body can heal
- To improve a horses fitness it must have rest days
- To minimise serious injury through overtraining
- Mental wellbeing for the horse
The best way for a horse to have a rest day is to be in the field moving about (the body needs movement to get rid of waste products in the muscles). This however isn’t always possible due to how you keep your horse but lots of in-hand walking, turnout in a pen, hand grazing are other options if you don’t have access to turnout.
When to rest your horse?
- After a competition (particularly after travelling)
- After a long journey
- After a hard training session
- If your horse is feeling tired (you may have been overdoing it)
As a guide, for doing endurance I give Aurora 1 day off for every 10km ridden plus extra days for travelling, so after a 40km Competitive ride which I travelled 2hrs each way, she would get 6 days off minimum but usually I give her more. If I have just done a 10km hack in walk, then she might not get the day after off but if I have done 6km of fast work at the gallops she would get at least a day off so it also all depends on how strenuous the work was. Another thing to take into consideration is how fit your horse currently is and how experienced he is for the level of work you are asking. A less experienced horse will need more time to recover.
The thing to remember is quality of work is more important than quantity!