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Need Help Conditioning Your Horse? Shelley Sutherland Has 4 Expert Tips to Help!

Last updated on January 4, 2024

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Need Help Conditioning Your Horse? Shelley Sutherland Has 4 Expert Tips to Help!

Shelley Sutherland is no stranger to conditioning her horse, and getting him in fantastic shape. Her American Saddlebred endurance horse, Mr. B Haven, has won Best in Condition for his last two competitions…at 19 years old! (Read Mr. B’s story) Endurance riding is a test of not only the rider’s fitness level but also the horse’s fitness as competitions can range from 25 to 100 miles of riding through all different types of terrain. 

In 2019, Mr. B suffered a suspensory ligament injury and a deep digital tear. Shelley has been rehabbing him since, and after finding Animal Element earlier this year, brought him back to the best shape of his life! We sat down and picked her brain for some ways to improve your horse’s condition. 

4 Expert Tips for Conditioning Your Horse

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1. Long, Slow Rides

  • Shelley has a tough work schedule during the week, so she saves her rides for the weekend. She started at 8-10 miles each ride, and gradually increased the length as the horse’s condition improved.
  • When not competing, Shelley rides at a walk, occasionally trotting up hills.
  • ”You don’t have to go fast to build the foundation of an endurance horse.”
  • Long, slow rides help the ligaments, tendons, and joints build strength without putting too much strain on them.

2. Lunging with the Pessoa System

  • Helps keep the horse’s feet under them, and makes them use their core muscles and build their topline.
  • Shelley uses this method of lunging several times a week since she can’t ride often during the work week.
  • Just like with humans, a strong core and a strong fitness foundation carry over into all disciplines. Shelley has seen this system make a marked difference in her Mr. B’s fitness. 
  • Curious about a pessoa system? Read more about it here.

3. Daily Stretching and Recovery Time

  • After competitions, Shelley gives Mr. B a week off….no riding, no exercising, just access to his paddock and daily stretches.
  • This helps keep his muscles from cramping and getting stiff.
  • They do just a few minutes of simple stretching in the evening when she goes down to the barn.
  • Rather than overworking his muscles and continuing to (figuratively) pound the pavement with his conditioning, Shelley chooses to let her horse’s body rest and recover and has seen good results. 
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Quality Supplements

  • Mr. B is on NuTrack Digestive Support and Foundation Daily Detox (among other Animal Element supplements), and since starting him on Animal Elements Shelley has seen a big improvement in his topline.
  • She loves that FDD flushes the spinal cord (and the entire body) of toxins built up from the environment, food, water, and grooming products and allows the horse to build up their topline.
  • To read more about how FDD helps improve topline, read this blog.
  • NuTrack is also a crucial part of Mr. B’s nutrition program. NuTrack goes through both the fore and hindgut, allowing for maximum nutrient absorption and a healthy gut. This allows for healthy weight gain and maintenance.

Conditioning Your Horse Will Look Different Than How Other Horses Are Conditioned

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As with all training, it’s important to keep your individual horse in mind. Muscle tone, stamina, weight management, and physical ability all vary from breed to breed, and from horse to horse. What works for Shelley and Mr. B may not work for you and your horse. But her 4 tips for conditioning are a great place to start and tweak to your horse’s specific needs. Thank you Shelley for sharing your extensive knowledge! If you’re ready to try FDD and NuTrack and see quick results, call Mark today (509-301-1798)!