Sufficient exercise is an important basis for the development and maintenance of healthy muscles. Horses that are kept in open stalls or with daily outdoor access (paddock/ pasture access) automatically move significantly more than horses that spend most of the day in the box or suffer from lack of exercise. Exercise promoted by outdoor access ensures good blood circulation in the horse's muscles and improved mobility of the horse's joints.
Before a horse can specifically build up muscles in training with the rider's weight, the horse and its musculature should be trained from the ground for some time first. Ground work is important not only for muscle development but also for the horse's flexibility and balance.
Working on the lunge line is particularly beneficial for the horse's muscle development. A well-fitting Cavesson is particularly suitable for this. To help the horse achieve the desired forward and downward posture, you can use a side rein. Lunging also means the horse won't have to carry the rider's weight and won't be thrown off balance by a badly balanced rider.
In order to optimally promote the horse's muscle development, the rider should make sure the horse is as well balanced as possible.
Lunging over Cavalettis has a particularly positive effect on the back muscles. The interplay of normal steps and steps in which the horse has to lift its legs more, provides a particularly intensive strain on the back muscles. Different arrangements and combinations of poles can be used to diversify the training.
Regular stretching and stretching of the muscles is also very important to regenerate the muscles after training phases, to relieve pain and to maintain and improve the horse's mobility and suppleness.
The lunging programme Equikinetic is another particularly effective way to build up the horse's muscles. In this programme, the rider lunges the horse through a square volte for a certain period of time. After each training phase and the following break, a hand change is performed. This intensive interval training is a popular method of training for building up muscles, supporting recovery processes or simply keeping the horse fit and healthy.
The advantages of Equikinetic are:
If a good basic musculature is already present, a horse can also build up neck and back muscles in particular under a rider.
The following exercises are suitable for this:
As with humans, in order for a horse to build up muscles, it is necessary to provide essential nutrients. Primarily, proteins are needed for the metabolism required for building up muscles. In order to avoid over-acidification or even damage to the muscles, antioxidants are also very important. Horses in the muscle building phase should therefore be supported with special feed for the muscles as well as supplementary feed. Besides high-quality hay as the main feed, muesli or pellets are suitable for this purpose. Supplements can be given by means of oils (rice germ oil for muscle building) or suitable powders containing the most important nutrients.
The amount of time it takes to build muscle in a horse will depend on various factors, such as the age, health and training condition of the horse, and cannot be determined as a general rule. It is important to remember that every horse needs a different amount of time to build up its muscles and that training sessions should always be followed by rest periods so that the muscles used can recover and regenerate sufficiently.