The hunters are back in, all whiskers and spikey manes.
Having had his shoes off and out in a field away from home for 8 weeks to chill out Snakey (as he is affectionately known -due to his tendency to chase you around his box with his teeth!!) has had a very relaxing holiday by the look of his tummy!
So the get fit campaign will start with him coming in every day for some respite from the sun and the flies, a little net of hay to keep him occupied and 15 minutes on the walker twice a day for 5 days before we get his shoes on and start the road walking. The dry conditions have really helped his feet as he has a tendency to thrush- and when the fields are wet he can suffer from this condition, even when out full time. This year there is no sign of it- his feet have survived very well and a couple of trims during his break to stop his feet breaking up has paid dividends and they look fabulous and ready for his new shoes!
His mane looks like a zebras! sticking straight up in the air- and will provide us with some entertainment to get it contained to look remotely respectable for hound exercise or autumn hunting – but Anna is an expert- and we will do a mane pulling masterclass on the blog over the next few weeks – the secret is little and often, resist the temptation to attack the Mohican all at once – you will be relieved when you plait for the first time – trust me! Like-wise the tail – be patient and your charge will look a million dollars at opening meet.
So this week has seen visits from the farrier, equine dentist and the physio. The whole yard has had a top to toe check over. I am a firm believer in a check up before you get going, that way if there are any issues with sore muscles from playing in the field you do not run the risk of causing issues when you get going with the fitness campaign. One thing to be aware of is you saddle fit- if your horse has spent a while out and has gained some weight- be careful that his saddle still fits – you may find that a saddle fitter may recommend using a different saddle if he is significantly larger (an employer will be most impressed if you are aware that this may be an issue!)
So during the next few weeks we will increase the work load gradually, building the muscle up and losing the fat that he has put on over the summer. We will walk him for 4 weeks, you have to gauge the amount of walking, taking in to consideration the amount of time your horse had off and what sort he is , and there is no doubt that some horses maintain their fitness more than others. We will then start adding in trotting, slowly building up to an hour and a half of ridden exercise, and then when that ground work is done we will start to add in canter work. After a week or so in to the trot work we will introduce some light schooling, working over trotting poles and small fences to help him improve his core strength before moving on to outings to Vale View or Aylesford for some cross country schooling. Our aim is the Belvoir Team Chase and the Cottesmore Fun ride as a pre cursor to the hunting season so not a day to be missed to ensure he is physically ready for a good gallop with 25 fences! We will keep you posted with his progress!
If you are a groom working with hunters and need any advice about getting your charges back to peak fitness please contact us at [email protected] we are always happy to offer any advice! Or if you would like to work with hunters check out the vacancies we have here
Enjoy the sunshine!