Chances are that you and your horse could both stand to lose a couple of pounds. Shedding weight will help both of you have better balance, prevent injury, and be more athletic. Increasing your fitness will improve your endurance and you allow the most the most from the time you have in the saddle.
Exercise is not only essential for you, but also for your horse. The more fit your horse becomes, the easier it will be for him to perform the tasks you ask from him.
Renowned eventing rider Jim Wofford recommends that a rider maintain a body fat percentage of between 16-20% for women and 12-16% for men. "Go to your local fitness club" he recommends, "they will help you measure your fat to muscle ratio and plan a fitness program".
Diet and Eat Right
The New Year is a great time to review your horse's diet as well as your own. Many owners tend to over feed their horses. Make sure that you don't feed too much grain, and that you are feeding grain that contains the right amount of fat and protein content -- your horse may not need "high-octane" fuel. Also, you should work with your vet to ensure that your horse is getting the vitamins, minerals and supplements that it needs. Do make sure that you feed high quality forage and hay. Roughage is a critical part of your horse's diet (like fruit and vegetables are important to your health).
Try New Things
Variety is the spice of life and if you are getting bored with your riding program, it might be time to shake things up and try something different.
There are unlimited activities you can participate on with your horse. Have you ever tried working cattle, an < a href=/horse/Endurance-Riding.html>endurance ride, or polo-crosse. While it might seem silly for you dressage horse to be out there on the trail, a break from his normal routine might provide the physical and mental refresh to progress to the next level. This year, make a point to try at least five different types of activies. Here's a few you can choose from:
Enjoy your Time Together
Make time in your schedule to spend quality time with your horse. You and your horse will become a better team when you spend time together outside of your regular training routine. If you spend friendly, relaxing time together with your horse, he will be happy to see you visit! At our farm, we take our horses for regular walks and runs. This extra ground work not only helps us bond, but enables us to introduce them to new things (creeks, logs, mud puddles, etc) gently and without the pressure of being under saddle.
Make New Friends
The more fun you have keeping your resolutions, the more likely you are to stick to your plan. Meeting new people and making new friends will make riding more fun! Trying new activities will help you meet new friends who share your interests and goals. To help you with your fitness goals, you can join a regular exercise class (yoga and pilates are great for riders). Joining the local chapter of your breed association (AQHA, Arabian Horse Association, Jockey Club) or a horse activity group (Horsemasters, US Pony Club, etc) will help you find riding partners.