Cross-fit for horses – through diversity to progress
Daily routine delays, monotony inhibits development, progress. A cross training (or cross-fit) of a horse will help you in the right direction. Not only will he not let the horse get bored and reduce the risk of injury due to constantly repeated exercises. He will contribute to the full development of the horse’s body.
Studies have shown that the emancipation of a horse and the improvement of its physical fitness are directly related to the diversity of its training, changes in types of activity. Cross training should not be difficult or time consuming, but should be consistent – only then can you take advantage of it.
Benefits of Cross Training
A variety of movements and activities allows you to fully develop the muscles of the horse, as a result of which they begin to work more effectively Mixed exercises provide an opportunity to pay attention to individual muscle groups. They also awaken the nervous system, which affects the “habits” of muscle memory, leading to improved horse movements.
Riding on different surfaces
One of the easiest ways to improve the physical shape of your horse is to work regularly on different types of soil. This not only fine-tunes the horse’s proprioception (sense of body position, movement, and balance), but also teaches it to use muscles and supporting soft tissues more efficiently. Studies of injuries to horses show that horses that consistently work on the same ground every day are more susceptible to limb disease and injuries (especially those horses who train daily on special ground of the arenas). Signals coming to the legs and muscles from repetitive movements become “boring.” Since the horse does not have to adapt to respond to changing ground under its feet, its nervous system and the muscles of movement that it controls are less involved. In other words, a horse doesn’t get as much benefit from his training as he could.
Alternating work on the well-kept ground of the arena and work in the field or on “hard” paths, you contribute to improving the work of the horse’s muscles.
Muscles become stronger in proportion to the amount of stress they receive. The same goes for bones. As a rule, deeper soil makes the muscles stronger, and harder – the bones. With access to different types of surfaces, you can navigate to both systems as needed. Most horses that, in addition to manege work, make (at least once a week) walks in the field or forest, can work freely on different types of soil. If you are limited to playpen, be creative. You can:
· Before training and after it to walk on a solid path around a stable;
· Ride 20 minutes on the grassy lawn;
· To warm up in a barrel or levade with soil types that differ from a manege.
Add a landscape
Correction of posture and change of step, which arise as a result of driving over rough terrain, lead to impressive results, including the strengthening of the abdominal muscles, more straightforward movement and improved balance, flexibility and coordination. A well-planned training program includes at least one day a week driving through uneven terrain.
Riding on rolling hills
Many riders mistakenly believe that they need access to steep hills (the only way they can make a horse stronger). However, the truth is that one hour of walking and trotting on hilly terrain reinforces all the chains of the horse’s muscles that create movement. The extensor muscles work when moving uphill, the flexor muscle chains from the hill. Thus, descents and ascents on small hills will give you more advantages than working up and down steep slopes.
Use of pegs lying on the ground
Riders who do not have access to rough terrain may find a good alternative in working with poles on all lanes (do not make preferences only in favor of trotting or only in favor of canter). For basic physical support, exercises with poles should not be difficult. The horse does not need to overload. Your goal is to teach her to maintain straightness and balance. Below I will give some of my favorite exercises with poles.
1. Snake on poles
Put some poles in line. Following the snake’s trajectory, move along the line with an energetic step, not forgetting to change flexion with each loop. This exercise makes stronger muscles flexors and stabilizers of the hip joint, chest muscles and muscles that are involved in performing lateral movements.
2. Base square
Lay out four poles in the shape of a square (it is best to use poles with a length of 2.45 m). If necessary, lift the poles using blocks or stands in the corners of the square.
Pass by a step on the “Clover” figure, the center of which will be a point in the middle of the square. Focus on even bending, maintaining a steady rhythm while riding over the poles and maintaining light contact with the horse’s mouth.