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  • November 24, 2022 3 min read

    A training program for any athlete will always have three phases: a warmup, a workout, and a cool down. A horse is no different; as riders, we need to ensure that after our ride, we cool down our horses appropriately to avoid injury and aid muscle relaxation. 

    Following a ride, whether it be jumping, dressage, or a trail ride, your horse will most likely have worked up a bit of a sweat and have a higher heart rate. Your horse will have used its body and muscles differently to if it was in the paddock, and it will have been carrying the rider's weight and listening to the aids being given to it. When you think about it, an hour's workout is quite the effort for a horse, even if it is just a trail ride! So before you jump off your horse and put them away, it is essential to give them a proper cool down. This may look different for each horse, depending on the level of exertion, but generally, it will almost always include a stretch. You can start by giving your horse the rein and allowing it to stretch at the trot and then at the walk. This will slowly bring the horse's heart and respiration rates down and allow the muscles to relax. It will also allow the horse to stretch its neck and back in the way that it feels. If you are unsure how long to walk your horse after a workout, as a general rule, the horse should be walked for about 10 to 15 minutes, or at least until its respiratory rate has returned to normal. 

    After you dismount, it is a good idea to loosen the girth. This is particularly important if you are not in the position to immediately untack your horse (e.g., If you are competing). Loosening the girth allows the horse to relax further, and takes away some pressure from its girth and back areas. Your horse should also be offered some water; some horses will drink and some may not, but it is still important to offer it after every ride! 

    An after-ride groom is also essential for the comfort of your horse. It doesn't have to be extensive, but the idea is to run your hands over your horse's body and legs and ensure that it doesn't have any cuts or scrapes that it could have incurred while riding. It is also a good idea to pick out the hooves to ensure there aren't any foreign objects, such as rocks, and to ensure shoes are not loose. If your horse is sweaty, then a hose off will help them feel more comfortable. If you don't have access to water, then using a curry comb and body brush will help lift any sweat and dirt from the horse's coat. It is, however, a good idea to hose your horse's legs down to prevent tendon and ligament damage, particularly if your horse has been working hard (e.g., High-performance dressage, jumping, or galloping). 

    If your horse is stable but you have access to paddocks, it is a good idea to turn them out for a little while before placing them back into the stall. This allows them to stretch, walk and roll, which will help relax them further, and aid in muscle recovery. If you don't have access to paddocks, hand walking is also okay, particularly if they have had a hard workout. 

    After you have cared for your horse, it is time to take care of the tack! Washing the bit is essential, because saliva and food particles can get stuck to it, which may cause injury to your horse's mouth the next time you ride. So, washing your bit in some water and wiping it to ensure it is clean will keep it looking good but will also keep your horse happy! Wiping down your girth and horse boots is also a good idea to make sure any sand and debris are removed. If not, it may cause chaffing and rubbing and be uncomfortable for your horse the next time you ride. 

    The cool-down phase for your horse doesn't have to be overly excessive, but it is crucial to incorporate it into your routine to ensure your horse's comfort and happiness! 

    At Oakford Stockfeeds, we stock a large range of grooming brushes and tools, shampoos, and leather cleaners which may aid you in keeping your horse looking and feeling great. As always, we are here to help. So, please feel free to visit us in-store or online! 

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