with incompatible neighbors or dealing
with difficult herd dynamics in pasture?
Or, consider a horse living only in
confinement without the ability to
play in a pasture. What about feeding
schedules that provide food just twice
a day with nothing to forage on in
between? What about the campaigner
that is trailered to and from lessons,
clinics, and competitions, with all the
stresses inherent in transport, in addition to ever-changing routines?
All these situations contribute to a
horse’s anxiety and emotional stress.
There may also be a low-level disease at
play, like inflammatory airway disease,
viral respiratory infection, or ulcers, any
of which impact a horse’s steady state.
Another big issue that creates
overreaching or overtraining occurs
when a horse is faced with too much
work or intensity of work without the
appropriate amount of background
conditioning or training.
These horses are over-faced; this
particularly happens to young horses
that start with plenty of ambition.
A rider might try to capitalize on
this energy and enthusiasm, but ends
up asking too much over prolonged
periods of weeks and months.
Train for the Job
While young horses may be more
at risk of fatigue, any age horse can
experience being asked too much
time after time. Ongoing training
demands coupled with a busy travel
and competitive season creates progressive fatigue. Trauma and inflammation within tissues may result in
soreness and pain that affects how
well a horse responds to workouts.
Ideally, a horse is trained systematically with progressively increasing
demands, first in duration and then in
intensity. More intensive training periods are best coupled with alternate
days of light work and/or turnout.
Before more training loads are asked
of the horse, his tissues need time to
respond and recover; avoid repeating
strenuous efforts on consecutive days.
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