As long as I have lived in the Tennessee area, I never really thought about a process to have to get horses ready for te spring. With that said, I am glas I came across this post from Brigita today. I thought that I would share it with others that might be in the same boat as me and not know that you have to do these things.
As usual, I have locked out the commenting. If you want to make a comment, then please visit Brigita's original post.
Long awaited spring is around the corner for many of us in the Northern tier of the country. We are all anxious to get out to ride that first gorgeous day and allow our horses to graze the lovely green grass. But, is your horse ready?
A large number of us are not fortunate enough to keep our horses where there is an indoor arena available to ride in during the winter months. Our horses tend to have that time off from being ridden, they just eat, and poop, and eat, and poop, and eat, and poop, oh and sleep, and eat, and poop, . . . while we just keep throwing hay to them and clean up after them. Well, you know the routine.
Since the horses have been laid up for the winter, they are probably out of condition at this point. So how do we bring them back into condition? One word: slowly.
The first time you take your horse out for a ride, make it a short workout and mainly at a walk. You can do a little bit of a trot in between. When you see him breathing heavily, you have overworked him. Each time you ride him, add a little bit more trot to the workout. Remember, he is out of shape and needs to get back to work slowly. We do the same. Would you go out and run a marathon without getting into shape first? Of course not. It's the same for your horse.
Another thing to be careful with is the lush spring grass coming in. Spring grass to a horse is like candy to a child. Not having it all winter, he will crave it and therefore, eat to his heart's content. Not good. If he's allowed to do this he will most certainly colic because his digestive system is not used to it.
Grass needs to be introduced to the horse slowly, just like work. Let the horse out for about an hour, at first, for a few days. Then increase the time to maybe 1 1/2 hours for a few days, then 2 hours, etc. Once he is used to the grass, you can leave him in the pasture to graze to his heart's content.
Spring is almost here and we are all waiting for that nice spring day to ride our horses. So, remember to take care of your horse. If you overdo it that first day, he may sustain an injury that will lay him up for the rest of the riding season. Don't rush things and you will enjoy riding during the spring, summer and fall and maybe even part of the winter.