But along with Spring cleaning, comes time to begin conditioning our furry friends, many of whom have been couch potatoes all winter long. Now is the time to get the horses (and ourselves!) back into shape so that we’re fit and ready when the first IEO schooling show arrives in May. For many riders, that means the application of the LSD technique, or Long, Slow Distance conditioning. If you’ve never tried LSD before, it is an effective and safe means of taking our winter-soft equine companions and gently easing them back into the work world while minimizing fatigue related injuries. The goal of an LSD program is to develop fitness so that a horse can cope with 1 hour of easy exercise at the walk/trot/canter and cover approximately 5 miles during that hour. It improves and strengthens the horse’s limbs as well as his cardiovascular fitness by increasing the length of the work before increasing the speed. An LSD program can be tailored for each horse and their own special needs, but they all start with about 20 minutes of walk. You add 5 minutes of walk every day until you reach 75 minutes of walking, which is where you begin to add 2-3 minutes of trot a day. Gradually you increase your riding time, utilizing trails if you’re lucky enough to have them available, as walking up and down hills is wonderful for helping to strengthen and tone muscles.
So this week, as the temperatures begin to rise and the Spring flowers continue to emerge, think about making the commitment to an equine Spring LSD fitness program. Your horse will be glad you did!
Susan Moody, IEO President