I am going to address thoughts on conditioning your horse for what you have planned for the summer.

Here are some suggestions:

1. When starting back to riding please remember you are not the only one in not in shape. With the snow as deep as it was your four legged friend only exerted himself to get from point A to point B. He may be stronger in some ways but not fit in  the cardiovascular  department. So  as you work him start out in 10 minute working intervals working on one problem at a time. Give your horse 5-6 minutes to relax and digest what you are trying to accomplish. Please don’t expect your horse to be perfect after this long time out, trust me you won’t be.

2.Many horses that compete have aches and pains from what I call the mileage of showing. Supplements for joints is a good support system, but warming up your horse slowly in a relaxed natural state is the preventative. By doing this you allow the horse’s joints to “lube” themselves and create good blood flow to all working parts, which in turn helps against the breakdown of tissue and bone. Requiring collection immediately may give you the desired look, but will cause the horse’s muscle tissue integrity to break down and eventually cause skeletal shift and arthritis.

3.As I tell my students “Less is more!” Many trainers like to work their horse 6-7 days a week. Personally I find one day cardiovascular work and two days schooling is plenty.  If the horse ends his session happy; he will start wear you left off next time. If you are where the horse does not have an opportunity to be in pasture regularly it is even more important to use the other days bonding by free lunging, or trail riding or simply finding somewhere to graze him. A horse’s biggest comfort is to exist contentedly with the herd. If your horse spends long periods in stall and is not allowed to be with other horses, this is your chance to bond with him because you are all the herd he has.

In closing I would like to ad that “Being successful” in the show ring is far more obtainable  when there is a bond between the two of you. When you have a good connection mentally and physically with your horse you can address problems in the show ring with confidence versus guessing and wondering if you practiced enough. Often you will hear the top riders say after a competition  “I wasn’t on my game, or my horse was some what “off”. We as professionals and instructors have a saying” When the sun,stars, and moon are in alignment all is perfect” That is about all the predictability of a performance one has. So in the end, no amount of practice will replace two individuals who know how to read each other and perform as a team.