Conditioning of your Equine Athlete

    When planning your upcoming barrel races and rodeos for the weekend, we need to keep in mind our horse’s body condition. Before you enter you should ask yourself, is my horse in shape to go to a barrel race? Having a good conditioning program can determine if your horse is ready for competition. When conditioning your horse you should keep in mind his age, body weight and what kind of physical shape he is in. You don’t want to start riding your horse hard if he’s been sitting out in the pasture for a a couple of years or even a few months. When bringing a horse back to competition fitness, you want to gradually increase your exercise program, building muscle and wind. When planning out your riding schedule for the week it is a good idea to vary your program each day and to help keep your horse’s mind fresh.  Your program will evolve as he gets into shape and requires more fine tuning as opposed to just conditioning. I like to get a calendar and write down on each day what I am going to do with my horse.

For example:


Slow Work on barrel patterns


Lope Circles


Walking and Trotting Circles and Long Trotting


Make a practice run


Trail Ride & give your horse a bath


Barrel Race Competition or Rodeo


Barrel Race Competition or Rodeo

Pete Oen had Holdinalltheseises in perfect condition to win the 2016 Josey Reunion

    Having a detailed workout plan can help you achieve the perfect condition you want your horse to be in. Another good idea is to take a picture of your horse the first day you start your program, and then a month later repeat the picture to see what he looks like then. This can show you how much your hard work is paying off. Seeing his body condition can help you keep an eye on his progress throughout your workout program which allows you the opportunity to adjust your program as needed. Remember, before entering barrel races and rodeos, always ask yourself, is my horse in good enough shape to perform at his best? We cannot expect our horses to perform well and win without putting time in the saddle.  My book “Run To Win With Me” gives a lot of good exercises you can do to get your horse ready to run!