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Be Mindful of DOMS

The New Year sees many people hitting the gym to loose weight, get stronger and fitter 💪. The same often applies to our horses, we make a commitment to spend more time with them and ride more often so they are ready for the competition season and long rides in the beautiful sunshine. ☀️

Im sure many people reading this can raise their hand and agree that it’s exhausting and painful getting in shape. I know I do 🙋🏼‍♀️.

Strengthening legs is the worst. By the 5th squat on the third set, your legs are shaking, your muscles feel tight and you can barely make it to number 10. The following day it hurts to sit down and you need to hold on to the banister to go down the stairs. The day after that its hurts even more. This is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).

When we experience DOMS we rest, go for a walk, work on another area and stretch.

Horses are the Same! Their physiology is the same, how they heal is the same and how they feel pain is the same - they just communicate differently!

This is really important when it comes to training your horse. When we ask them to work harder, carry themselves correctly or learn a new movement. For them, it’s just like going to the gym.

Teaching your horse a new movement, for example shoulder-in. You ask, and they give you the steps your looking for, so you ask again and then again. Thinking…the more I do this the faster they will learn. Only to find that on the second and third day of shoulder-in they start to resist, head tossing, tail swishing and not stepping through like they did the first day. In frustration you ask them ‘Why won’t you do it today…. You did it yesterday?!’.

Linking to what I said above, the horse has just started to use muscles they maybe haven’t used in a while, or maybe even at all resulting in pain and stiffness. They have developed….. DOMS.

Next time you’re increasing your horses work, or starting to introduce new movements and lateral work… be Mindful about how they might be feeling after recruiting new muscles and using them more intensely.

When they start fighting with you, they aren’t trying to ‘Test your patience’, they are telling you something doesn't feel right, or that they can’t do it today. Move on to something else, go for hack, work on circles or transitions and STRETCH, then ask again in 3-4 days time. You will get better work, your horse will learn faster and over all you will have less arguments!

Happy Horse = Happy Rider 😃

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