The Dangers of Unassessed Exercise Programs for Horses

All modules are RACE-approved for Continuing Education Credit.

With guests Elisse Miki and Karen Rohlf

Horse owners have access to lots of good information, in clinics, on social media, and in private training sessions, about how to improve their horse’s performance through training. Many “specialists” recommend and explain specific exercises considered helpful for conditioning specific muscles or zones of the equine body. They talk about what constitutes a well-balanced conditioning regime, e.g., the importance of cross-training or how to dose the amount of training.

The piece that is missing, however, – and what we find worrisome – is that we seldom see, as a preface to those discussions, any conversation about (1) the importance, prior to undertaking a conditioning/training regime, of making sure that the horse has had a whole-body assessment performed by a qualified professional; or (2) how the owner and trainer can recognize signs of pain or dysfunction during training; and (3) when they should change the training regime or refer the horse to a veterinarian or other healthcare practitioner… even when the signs of dysfunction are subtle.

Too often we see horses being trained through pain and/or dysfunction, either because the owner or trainer is unable to recognize the pain or dysfunction or because the pain-caused behavior is interpreted as “simply” a training issue. Owners, trainers, and manual therapists need to be more aware of the harm that can be caused to the horse by asking it to perform movements that it is not “fit” to do at that moment in time.

The July blog and Community Gathering will address this situation. We will unpack the concept of “fitness for training”, and more. Our guest collaborators, human and animal manual therapist Elisse Miki and trainer Karen Rohlf, will share some basic fitness concepts and walk us through case examples that promise to raise our awareness. Although it is not reasonable to expect that all of us will be trained on how to assess for fitness, we at least need to become more aware and have a better understanding of the horse’s body.

Date: July 25, 2024

Time: 4 pm MDT (please note time change)