How to get a horse fit

Whether you’re stepping up a level, want to keep an older horse sound and fit or would just like to be able to ride your horse for longer before the sweating and heavy breathing kicks in, a proper fitness regime is key to building up cardiovascular and muscular strength.

Here are some easy ways to build your horse’s fitness.

How to get a horse fit

How to get a horse fit

How to get a horse fit

How to get a horse fit

1. Lunging or long reining

You shouldn’t lunge five times a week or for longer than 20-30 minutes depending on your horse and their current fitness level, but done correctly, lunging once or twice a week can be a very useful tool in developing fitness.

If your horse is out of shape, start out with lots of walk breaks.

How to get a horse fit

Lunge work can be useful for developing the muscles that go under the saddle without the weight of a rider, and you can add poles or transitions to keep the work varied and up the fitness factor.

If you are able to long rein then this is arguably an even better solution as you are not limited to circles and can do more strenuous work in terms of canter, lateral movements and so on.

Remember that lunging can be quite a strain on horses, especially if they are young or coming back into work so always build up slowly and try to do your work on a large circle. It is important to always warm up and cool down correctly.

2. Hacking or Trail Riding

Going on long hacks can be a great way to build your horse’s fitness without having to drill them in the school.

Depending on the base level of fitness these can be done mostly in walk with some trot, or can have quite significant amounts of trot and canter.

How to get a horse fit

As with anything, it’s important to build up to long, fast rides gradually but even at a walk an hour of hacking can make a huge difference to an unfit horse.

The varying terrain and endurance aspects of the hack will quickly have your horse using himself, just as when you go for an occasional hike and feel yourself getting tired more easily than you thought!

If you progress to the stage where your horse is comfortable with long stretches of canter, you can even go to the beach or hire out some gallops for a really long blast and to get his blood pumping!

This is particularly important if you’re training an eventer, as just canter won’t cut it – you need to work in the gallop if you expect your horse to gallop round the XC phase.

3. Hill Work

If you even mention the concept of getting your horses fit and muscled, hill work will invariably be one of the first suggestions out of the mouths of showjumpers, eventers and dressage riders alike.

There’s a good reason for that! Going up and down hills in varying paces works all the different areas of your horse’s body and as you’ll know, it’s far harder to run uphill than on a flat stretch.

How to get a horse fit

To improve cardiovascular fitness, your best bet is to canter up a hill and walk back down it. Repeat this a few times but do make sure that your horse is still listening to you – if you need to walk or trot up once or twice to remind him that it isn’t a case of taking off whenever he sees the bottom of the hill, then do so!

Again, if the hill is long enough, those training an eventing horse can also throw in some work in gallop.

To improve muscle strength and tone, walk and trot up the hills and throw in plenty of transitions. Remember to stay light and balance in your seat and allow the horse to reach into the contact as you work up the hill.

You can also work within the paces as your horse’s fitness and strength develops, working on collecting and lengthening the trot and canter rather than just letting your horse maintain the same pace all the way up.

Going downhill works different muscles to uphill, but its value shouldn’t be discounted. Though the cardiovascular fitness benefits are less than uphill work, the horse requires a lot of strength and balance to work correctly going downhill.

Start off with walk and a slow trot when going downhill, then build up to canter when you’re sure your horse has the necessary balance.

4. Interval Training

Interval training is the eventer’s best friend, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be put to good use by riders in other disciplines.

The idea is to replace long, low intensity sessions with rides which are short in duration but work the horse hard by interspersing short burst of high intensity work in canter followed by a period of rest in walk.

How to get a horse fit

As you progress, the rest periods shorten and the intense periods lengthen. This method of training is commonly used to get event horses ready for the season.

A good guideline for a horse who is already in work but needs to up his fitness ahead of an event is to do five minutes of canter, followed by three minutes of walk. Do that twice and end the session.

If your horse is less fit, start with slow canter intervals of three to four minutes, interspersed with walk breaks for two to three minutes depending on how quickly your horse recovers.

The idea isn’t to go super fast with these horses, but to keep a good rhythm and build the fitness first.

How to get a horse fit

Any fitness programme must be tailored to the horse – its breed, its age, and how long it has been off work. However, where, in the past, a hack for a dressage horse consisted of the walk to the school and back, more dressage riders and show jumpers are starting to use the same basic fittening programme as the event riders.

“In dressage, people focus too much on competition and not enough on building muscle and strength,” says Carl Hester. William Funnell agrees: “My approach is very similar to my wife Pippa’s, especially if my horses have had a long lay-off.”

Weeks one to three

Most professionals will walk their horses in week one, building from half an hour the first day, to up to one hour by the end of the week, up to two hours the following week. This is seen as critical to the long-term health and soundness of the horse.

“It is important to remember that you are trying to build them up, not break them down,” says event rider Richard Waygood.

After a long lay-off, both William and Pippa walk the horses on roads for three weeks to tighten the ligaments and tendons, building up to trot work up hills. William says, “I do not agree with pounding them on the roads on the flat. We do trot up the hills, however, as that takes the pressure off the front legs.”

Carl Hester takes the same approach with his dressage horses. “To develop the hindquarters, we will work up and down hills, just as you would with an event horse,” he says.

Dressage riders and show jumpers tend to include some lungeing and work in the school in the first weeks, which event riders usually avoid at this stage — “unless you need to make sure that, if the horse is feeling a bit fresh, it has had its bucks on the lunge,” says event rider Chris King.

Sussex-based dressage rider and trainer Dane Rawlins stays mostly in the school and uses lungeing and long-reining in the first week, working the horses to the point where they are warm, but not breaking out in a sweat.

Danish dressage rider and German-qualified Bereiter Markus Bauer, currently based in Piltdown, Sussex, says that walking the horse off after schooling is almost as important as the schooling itself.

“You often see horses worked and sweating, and then just put back in the stable,” he says. “That will have a very unhealthy effect on the horse. It will come out the next day stiff with aching muscles. The horse will not last very long, it will have a stiff back and there is a danger of him tying up.” He always walks his horses off for at least 20 minutes after exercise, he says.

Weeks four and five

As the horse gets fitter, the professionals build up the periods of trot and introduce canter and school work.

Richard likes to canter during the fourth week on a school surface. “Sometimes people get their horses too fit in walk and trot, and then they explode in canter,” he says. He also believes that the canter is better than trot for making a horse supple and working through its back. By the fifth week he has started flatwork schooling.

Markus adds that a fit horse must be made to sweat a little bit. “Without this sweating process, the muscles will not build and change in shape,” he says. “It’s like a person going to the gym and coming home without having worked up a sweat — they have not done enough.”

Weeks six and seven

The professionals now build on canter work and start more intensive flatwork schooling and some jumping. William starts with some cross poles built into the flatwork.

“I will also introduce shoulder-in and counter-canter to build the different muscles and get the horses aerobically fit,” he says. He adds that bounces help to build and maintain the jumping muscles, along with regular hill work. “You do not need to jump big to get them fit,” he says, just keep to a height at which you are comfortable.

Depending on how the horse is progressing, the professionals may also start to introduce pipe-opening gallops, whatever the discipline. “I take mine up the gallops,” William says. “I have found that it is good for conditioning the horses’ bodies, and good for their minds.”

Carl also says he gallops his horses. “While a dressage horse needs more fat on it to build into muscle, we would work our horses faster than you can in an arena to build the fitness,” he explains.

Week eight and beyond

Now the professionals start going to small local shows to build competition fitness and to make sure the horse is mentally prepared. Depending on the horse, this may be possible from week six, particularly if he has not had a long lay-off.

Dane hopes to be out competing by the sixth week. “The final fitness does not happen until the horses have been out competing a few times,” he says.

From this point, the disciplines tend to differ in their approach. Eventers would expect to take around three months to get a horse fit. For the higher-level events, they now start doing fast work, either on the gallops or through interval training. Richard builds to three 10-minute bursts of canter, followed by three minutes of walk. Warmbloods benefit from gallops, similar to a racehorse’s regime, he says, as they find fast work difficult. Regular gallops open the lungs and build stamina.

A show jumper would already be out competing by now. William expects to get a Grade A horse competition-fit in two months, even if it had had a long lay-off.

For dressage, says Carl, “Up to Elementary level, a horse only needs half an hour in the school. For Grand Prix horses it can be up to an hour.”

The more excitable horses, he adds, do not need to do so much fittening work. However, lazier horses need more fast work to sharpen them up.

Question: I have to admit that I've struggled to keep my three horses fit because I must juggle the amount of time I can spend with each of them. I don't want any of us to get bored, and I know conditioning is more than just running them around the arena. Can you recommend regimens for getting them back into shape that will also allow me to make the most of my riding time?

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Answer:

A complete response to this question would fill a book! And, of course, the answer will be different for every horse, depending on his level of fitness, your own level of fitness, your style of riding, the facilities available, your climate and more.

Before you embark on any fitness program, make sure that each of your horses is sound and ready to ride. Is he healthy? Is he shod or trimmed appropriately? Get clearance from your veterinarian if your horse is recovering from an injury.

Then start riding. Any equine fitness program will start slowly with walking and maybe some trotting, then gradually increase either distance or speed, but never both at the same time. So, yes, it requires "running them around." But that doesn't mean your horse can walk dully along, slouching underneath you. Get him moving and be sure he lifts his back while he marches purposefully forward. Do exercises at each gait that improve flexibility and strength. For example, practice leg yields, transitions and circles to help keep you and your horse interested while you also increase fitness.

Keep track of what you are doing by wearing a watch during each ride and keeping a journal of the work so you can be methodical in how you change it. In other words, make each ride count. Even the slow work can build muscle for your horse.

Each week, either make your rides a little longer or increase the time at the faster gaits. Think of yourself as a fitness coach, just like any personal trainer. You probably will have to encourage your out-of-shape horse to push and stretch just a little harder, but never so much that he may injure himself. Unless you are very fit from some other sport or are used to doing a lot of riding, a good program should make you work hard, too.

The specific times that you spend at each gait and the rate that you increase it will need to be customized to each horse. For comparison, here is a sample program that I gave to a client for a horse who was recovering from a very mild episode of laminitis. Before they began this schedule, the horse was sound, getting some turnout and was walking under saddle every day. He was well shod and the work was to be done primarily in a very nice sand ring—soft, but not too deep. This was intended for a riding schedule of four to six times per week.

Week 1: 30 minutes per ride with 5 minutes trotting
Week 2: 30 minutes per ride with 10 minutes trotting
Week 3: 40 minutes per ride with 15 minutes trotting
Week 4: 40 minutes per ride with 20 minutes trotting and 5 minutes cantering
Week 5: 40 minutes per ride with 20 minutes trotting and 10 minutes cantering

For many horses, this would not be the end of the program, but just the beginning. However, for some this would be too aggressive, and they would need to go even slower. A good way to monitor your horse's fitness level is by learning to take his pulse; then you can make notes of his heart rate before and after your workouts. After working, a horse's heart rate should return to normal within 15 minutes. If his pulse is still elevated after 45 minutes, then the workout was too much for him, and you'll need to scale back. Body soreness, pinned ears and other signs of pain or resistance may also point toward a horse who's working too hard.

You'll find a lot of books about conditioning horses for various disciplines. Be sure to find some that fit your needs. But nothing can beat having a good, experienced trainer right there to help you make wise judgment calls as you go along!

Melinda Freckleton, DVM
Haymarket Veterinary Service
Haymarket, Virginia

In order to enjoy your riding and hunting experience to the full this coming season, it is critical that your horse is fit for the work he will be doing. This will allow your horse to produce peak performance on the hunting field, when it matters and minimise the risk of any injuries.

If your hunting horse has been in less strenuous work over the summer months fitness should be worked on gradually over a period of weeks to enable the horse’s body to adjust to the changes in exercise level. Remember; don’t take short cuts or rush the process as sudden increases in work can result in pulled or torn muscles! The period of time required to get a horse fit will be influenced by numerous factors such as their previous workload, their age and how fit the horse has previously been.

It is wise prior beginning fitness work ready for hunting to check the horse’s general health so horse owners need to get up to date with any vaccinations, dentistry checks, shoeing or any worming that is required.

Five Top Tip for Getting Your Horse Fit from World Wide Tack

1.) Begin the fittening process with walk work. Start by walking your horse for 20 minutes and build it up for over an hour. Include millwork in your routine as walking up and down hills which is particularly good for balance, conditioning and muscle development and will be a common requirement of your equine whilst hunting.

2.) Once your horse has gained in fitness include extended periods of canter work to improve and build your horse’s cardiac endurance but ensure you give your horse walks breaks in between to break up the work.

3.) Keep your horse’s work varied for all round development and to ensure your equine remains positive and focused in his work. Don’t neglect your schooling and ensure if you will be expected to jump on your day hunting that your horse is well practised at jumping in open spaces.

4.) The hunt master will start the field off gradually but always complete a sufficient warm up prior to hunting and and manage your own gradual cool down process to protect your equine’s muscles, tendons and ligaments from injury and after a long day of outdoor riding travel your horse with a warm, absorbent rug.

5.) Whilst hunting it is vital to provide your horse with correctly fitting, comfortable tack such as the wide range of breastplates, martingales and bridles from World Wide Tack. It is wise to use protective boots such as the selection of top quality tendon boots and essential over reach boots preventing overreach injuries.

I often get asked this question given my background and what I do and my answer very much depends on what sort of horse riding, but in general yes it is exercise.

But what first defines exercise and what sort of horse riding?

Is horse riding exercise?

You see exercise and movement can be classed as the same thing, then there is the exercise that gets your heart rate up, typically called cardio and then there is exercise like HIIT training and weight lifting. Not to forget exercise like yoga. All these different forms of movement have different effects on the body and are different types of exercise. So given that movement and exercise can be classified as the same thing yes horse riding is exercise. However, the sort of exercise it is needs to be defined.

What type of horse riding

There are so many different types of horse riding, from dressage, eventing, show jumping, western, barrel racing, endurance through to someone who just likes to hack out on weekends. All require various forms of fitness in order to achieve the desired results. One thing is for certain however across all disciplines of horse riding is that the rider must develop coordination skills to move the body with the horse in order to stay balanced in the saddle. This requires a level of core strength appropriate to the level of riding.

How to get a horse fit

Which muscles does horse riding work?

I have written an article here about the 8 Key Muscles Involved When We Ride specifically for dressage but similar principles apply across all riding. In order to be able to move with the horse, a rider requires a combination of stability, suppleness and stamina. With the central core being the most important to help the rider keep a neutral spine and feel stable in the saddle while protecting the spine. Along with this, the rider requires good adductor strength along with glutes, quads and hamstrings.

Is riding a cardio workout?

Cardio can be defined as exercise that keeps us around or under the 70% HR of our full capacity. Meaning it’s not high-intensity sprints and it’s also not sitting doing nothing. So movement like walking, light jogging, dancing, swimming and bike riding can all be classified as cardio because of the intensity in which you do it. However, each of these exercises can be moved from “cardio work” into high-intensity work if you were to add in hills, interval sprints or more resistance.

The way I explain light cardio is where it is movement in which you can hold a conversation at, so going for a walk with a friend and being able to chat and catch up.

More intense cardio is where you can say a few words but you also need to catch your breath.

Then high-intensity work is where you can’t talk, you need to get oxygen first and catch your breath.

Everyone’s fitness is different and how you respond to a workout may be different to someone else. So what makes you breathless can be different from the next person. That being said there are lots of different styles of riding. Some riding whereby you are able to chat with a friend while going on a hack, or the more intense like doing a competition dressage test, show jumping or a cross country course.

So to answer the question, yes horse riding is a cardio workout, but at what intensity it fully depends on the level and type of riding you are doing and the fitness of the rider.

Why is horse riding good for you?

How to get a horse fit

Horse riding is a fabulous way to improve your core strength and stamina, however in order to be great at it, you also need to dedicate time off the horse to help you with this also and not solely rely on the horse riding as your only source of movement/exercise, more on how to do this soon.

How many calories do you burn?

Depending on the style of riding, your metabolism and how fit you are can all affect the number of calories you burn. But on average if you were to ride a horse for a 45-minute schooling session in walk, trot and canter you are likely to burn around 200 calories. The more intense the ride, the more calories you will burn.

Can you lose weight?

Horse riding itself is a great way to exercise and move your body. However, as I mentioned before it shouldn’t be solely relied on as your only form of exercise and movement. Especially if you are trying to lose weight. Weightloss is something that is improved in the kitchen and by improving your lifestyle choices. Getting in a foundation of movement off your horse each day is a fantastic place to start.

What sort of exercise should I do to improve my riding fitness?

When it comes to exercise off our horse too often we put it into the too hard basket and do too little or we do the extremes and overtrain. The key to getting your exercise right is to first understand that your body thrives off movement. It needs you to move and have movement scattered throughout your day. This helps improve your posture, fitness and energy.

It also needs you to keep your muscles strong and your body in even balance. A weak left side or a tight right hip is very quickly highlighted when on a horses back. So your exercise you do should be about improving symmetry, rider strength and balance.

I am sure you have seen what happens to a muscle when you break a wrist, they shrink. If you don’t use it you lose it and if you overuse it you abuse it. So it’s about balance and choosing exercises that enhance what you are trying to achieve as a dressage rider.

How to get a horse fit

First, ask yourself are you getting a foundation of movement into each and every day.

And how much riding are you actually doing?

If right now you are only walking very minimal, can you build up to 5000 steps and adventually 10,000 steps per day and can you build this foundation of movement into your every day life. Then when it comes to your riding are you riding 3 days a week leisurely or do you ride 3 horses a day 6 times a week. You see each of these scenarios requires different advice.

Just like a house needs a strong platform to build from, so does your health. So create as much of a movement base lifestyle in and around your work and look for more opportunities in your day to move more. Because sitting all day at a desk isn’t doing much to help your riding and while I am not suggested you throw away your job, what I am suggesting is awareness of how you sit at your desk, how you spend your breaks and the exercise you do to bring balance to your posture to help enhance your riding.

Even if you work 8-5 at an office, there is still weekends and hours in and around work that you can move. So make the choice to take advantage of those hours and care for your body with more movement to enhance your rider fitness. Combine that with your riding and you have a recipe for success.

Get all the tools you need to take your riding to the next level by downloading our free guide here

Here are a few more articles similar to this that you may find useful to help you with your horse riding fitness.

Few pieces of equipment are as inexpensive or easy to use as a grazing muzzle, but don't let its simplicity fool you. A muzzle can save a horse's life–reducing his risk of laminitis from overindulgence on rich pasture grass–or at least help keep him healthier by limiting his caloric intake.

Photo By Liz Zander

When a horse wears one of these basket-like contraptions, he can breathe and drink normally but consumes only the blades of grass that poke through the muzzle's mesh straps. "Muzzles allow a horse all the benefits of turnout, from the exercise to the socialization to the fresh air, without the risks of consuming too much nutrient-rich grass," says Melinda Freckleton, DVM, a practitioner with Haymarket Veterinary Service in Haymarket, Va. Grazing can be further limited by covering the bottom hole with a thick cardboard disc.

"Any horse that doesn't need as much grass as is available to him" will benefit from a muzzle, says Freckleton. But this gear can be an especially important tool in managing horses with insulin resistance, Cushing's syndrome or those who are simply more susceptible to laminitis, particularly when grass is lush in early spring.

In fact, she says, experience has taught her that grazing muzzles are advisable for some horses well beyond spring. "We used to think that only new grass was the problem, so we'd put muzzles on when the new grass came in, then take them off when it got dry enough for the growth to slow. But as we learn more, we realize that it's not that easy to predict when the grass can be risky," says Freckleton. "I tell people that if they think maybe they should be muzzling, to go ahead and do it. And when you think the grass has died off enough to take it off, wait another week to be sure."

In general, she advises paying closer attention to your local climate than to the calendar. "The grass greens up all the time here in Virginia. It can be mid-November and we are still muzzling. You can't do it by the calendar alone. You have to make the call based on the current conditions." Freckleton adds that she leaves off muzzles when a new horse is introduced to the herd and in other situations when the social order may be temporarily disrupted: "You'd be taking away one of a horse's defenses if he gets into trouble."

As with any gear, fit is important (see illustrations in the PDF link below): To stay in place a muzzle needs to be snug, but if it's too tight it may rub. Nonetheless, warns Freckleton, an enterprising horse may try to get rid of even a well-fitted muzzle: "I've seen horses rolling on the ground to pull them over their heads, and a few learn to hook muzzles on fences and pull back to break them," she says. "One owner braided the horse's mane around the crownpiece of the muzzle and that solved the problem. You can get creative about securing them, but you still need to have a breakaway feature for safety."

Chris Whitton receives funding from The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation and Racing Victoria Limited.

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University of Melbourne provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation AU.

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In elite racehorses, biology is pushed to the limit – about four tonnes is placed on the joint surfaces in a galloping horse’s lower limb with every stride, and these repeated loads have the potential to cause injury to joints, tendons and bones.

It’s not surprising then that injuries most commonly occur where the highest loads are generated: the carpal (knee) and fetlock (ankle) joints, and the flexor tendon and suspensory ligament.

So how do trainers ensure their horses stay injury-free?

As a horse runs faster, the loads it generates also increase, meaning that horses with a greater ability to run fast have an increased risk of injury. A common complaint from trainers is that it’s only the good ones that get injured!

Bone and tendon fatigue

Most injuries in racehorses are not due to an accidental bad step or collision with another horse. Rather, the most common cause of injury is what’s called “fatigue failure” of bone or tendon tissue such as:

  • joint injury
  • chip fractures
  • catastrophic fractures
  • tendon and suspensory ligament injuries.

These injuries occur spontaneously, often with little warning, and are caused by repeated high loading.

Despite the term “fatigue”, the horse does not get “tired”, but suffers a gradual deterioration of bone or tendon which ultimately ends in breakage, strain or rupture.

Fatigue failure is a difficult concept to grasp but can be likened to the fatigue that occurs in a wire that is repeatedly bent at the same point – eventually, and suddenly, it breaks.

Adding to its insidious nature, the accumulated microdamage – injury at a microscopic level – is very difficult to detect and many horses show no signs of discomfort prior to significant injury. Yet when the bones or the tendons of horses are examined after injury there is often evidence of damage that has been present for some time.

How to get a horse fit

Treating limb injuries

Bone has good potential for healing even in such large animals as horses. But due to their weight, and need to fully weight bear on all four limbs, only some fractures can be repaired.

Bone healing at joint surfaces is less satisfactory than typical bone fractures, and joint cartilage heals poorly so joint injuries often result in ongoing arthritis.

Poor healing is also a feature of tendons and ligaments so although many do appear to heal with prolonged rehabilitation, re-injury is common. Because the forms of effective treatments for limb injuries are limited, prevention is preferable.

Injury prevention

Prevention of limb injuries in horses has to involve a better understanding of how adaptation to the rigours of race training occurs, and the nature of repair of slowly accumulating damage.

Bone has great potential for adaptation, particularly in young growing horses. “Adaptation” refers to the new bone that’s rapidly laid down, both along the shafts of long bones and in the spaces underlying the joint surfaces, when young horses come into training.

How to get a horse fit

Prior to this adaptation, though, fatigue failure can happen quickly. For example, cannon bone (third metacarpal) fractures generally happen around 8 weeks into a race preparation in young horses. In contrast, similar fractures in older experienced race horses with well-adapted bone tend to happen at around 20 weeks of training.

Bone’s intrinsic repair mechanism is not well understood. Throughout life, focal areas of bone are resorbed and replaced. This is a critical process for the prevention of injury because it allows fatigued bone to be replaced by new bone.

Our research has recently shown that in areas of bone stressed by repeated high loads – such as during training – this repair process slows, and those areas are prone to injury. In contrast, when horses rest from training, bone replacement rates are much higher.

In short, rest is best for replacing bone.

So what about tendons? Unfortunately, how tendons adapt to race training and repair accumulated damage is even less well understood than these processes in bone.

We currently don’t have enough knowledge to make specific recommendations on how far and how fast horses can go in training before risking injury, but we can make general recommendations.

The key to injury prevention is achieving a minimum number of miles of training at the necessary speed. There is a balance, though: adaptation will not occur if the horses do not train at speed, but if they train too much at high speed, then tissues will fatigue

Short sharp bursts of speed work once a horse is fit enough, two to three times a week, is usually appropriate. Duration of rest periods from race training are also difficult to ascertain, but we do know that more rest is better.

Horses will nearly always do what we ask of them. A large proportion of injuries to a racehorse’s limbs happen because trainers get the amount and intensity of training wrong.

We owe it to these incredible athletes to understand them better and that will only occur through greater research efforts and trainers basing their programs on the scientific evidence.

Getting a horse halter fitted right is essential if you want to be able to lead your horse properly and you want to do so without causing injury to your horse. The halter goes over the neck and nose, and fitted incorrectly, it can cause soreness or even make your horse behave strangely. So here are the 3 steps to getting the halter fitted perfectly!

How to get a horse fit

Once you’ve gone through these – practised them and got them right, you will never have to worry about how to fit a horse halter again!

Step 1: Getting the right halter

A halter that is too big or too small will never fit the purpose right! You need to make sure it is the right size. And if it isn’t, then measure and get yourself one that does fit right.

Halters will differ from make to make. But when you’ve got your measurements right, getting a horse halter that fits right won’t be a problem. To do this, measure first:

  • Measure the area where the noseband will go from one side of the horse’s face to the other.
  • Also take measurements all around the face.

With these measurements handy, finding the perfect halter at the tack shop shouldn’t be a problem. Also there are various types of halters to be found – depending on size of horse or the purpose. Get one that fits your purpose.

Step 2: Fitting the halter

How to get a horse fit

Fitting the halter can be easier if you put the lead rope around the horse’s neck first. This will keep him from walking away. At first, you need to get the horse to like you and stay calm. Thereafter, first slide his nose into the nosepiece of the halter. Pass the part that will go into the buckle over the horse’s ears and fit the buckle. Make sure it fits right before you give the buckle the final pull.

If you have a clip-on halter, then you’ll just have to slide it on, and secure the clip.

Once you’ve got the halter on, the next and most important step is getting the fit right.

Step 3: Checking to see if it’s done right

The fit of the halter is very important, obviously. If it is too loose, it’ll just slide off or you may not be able to control the horse well. When on the trail, it may also get caught on stray branches! But if it is too tight, it will hurt your horse. To get the fitting right, check this video:

A properly fitted halter is one of the most basic and important things about horse care and horse riding. And now that you know how to fit a horse halter – you should be able to do it right every single time!