Winter break : keep your horses healthy
12 April 2022
12 April 2022
Our Antarès riders, Maxime Livio and Zazie Gardeau have taken some time out to tell you how they keep their horses in good shape over the winter break after a busy season.
«The season began quietly but was pretty good. This year, I regained the level and goals that I hoped to reach » :
« It’s difficult to give any set rules as each horse recovers differently but overall, CCI1* and 2* horses rest for a week, while 3*S horses need 15 days, 3*L one month, 4*S, 15 days and 4*L horses, one month.
Some horses need light, non-strenuous exercise during their rest periods (turns on a lead rope, stretching, walking) to help them recover and maintain muscle tone.
This applies to horses that have been conditioned by the work they do and this helps them to recover.
By contrast, other horses, like Qalao need a rest from riding. They can spend a month on a walker, in the paddock and grooming.
The priority is keeping a close eye on things, even during the preparation period. The horses must feel pampered and you’ve got to look out for all those little knocks. »
« This is stage two, after rest and recovery. It’s also specific to each horse. Generally, 80% of the time, you should focus on working, comfort and trust (80% rhythm and attitude for the comfort of the horse and the remaining 20% in movements to mechanise the horse, which are not so comfortable).
This must be related to conditioning exercises that must maintain a specific level (canters, short gallops) to keep the horse’s body ready to work prior to the preparation period. »
I’ve got several:
« I think we need to remember riders too. To give you an idea, stirrups are banned in January at the stables. All the riders remove the stirrups on all the horses for canters, walks and work on the flat. We only put them back on for jumping as not all horses are suited to jumping without them. It’s quite an important period for the riders to build their strength back up. It’s the best way to properly dose the amount of work the horses do as it’s physically demanding for the rider. So, we’re less stringent with the horses and they gradually get back up to speed while we get back into the swing of things to start the season in a good position, which is an essential for horse riding! »
« I’m really happy with my 2021 season. I came 3rd in the French Pro 2 Championships at Pompadour, on César. We won our first CCI3* short event at Saumur, came 2nd in the CCI2* short at Jardy and won the CCI2* long at Lignières last week.
I won the CCI3* long at Vairano, Italy, riding Udine and we competed at the European Championships for Young Riders this summer in Sweden. »
« In our sport, our season finishes in November and we generally take a 3-month break from competition. I let my horses have about one month’s holiday before they start winter training. When I say, “holidays”, I mean walking, days spent in the pasture, short outings on a rope or unleashed, plus plenty of carrots! »
« When I start working with my horses again, I do it gradually, including stretching sessions and pole work in my weekly training programme. This helps me build muscle strength and keep the exercises fun. »
« My main goal for 2022 is to qualify for, and compete in, the European Championships for Young Riders that will held in Hartpury, in June. »
« I spend a lot of time on foot with my horses, massaging them, taking care of them and sometimes playing with them untethered. When the season’s in full swing, I have less time for these things so I try to make the most of winter to reinforce our bond. »