12 Quick Reasons that Warm-Ups and Cool Downs Promote Horse Health
Most of us know that warming our horses up and cooling them down is important, but do you know why? Sometimes knowing why you are doing something can improve the way you go about what you are doing. Since these parts of an equine fitness program are so important to promoting horse health, we decided to share some quick tips with you about what exactly warming up and cooling down does for equine wellness.
Begin your Equine Fitness Session with a Warm-Up-
The warm-up duration and intensity will vary for each horse based on fitness level, age, and fitness goals, but here are six reasons that a warm-up should be included in your horse's work/play sessions:
- Allows for a psychological warm-up.
- Helps prevent the premature onset of blood lactic acid accumulation and fatigue during performance or session.
- Decreases the work of contraction and reduces the risk of muscle injury, because it causes a gradual increase in muscle temperature.
- Helps enhance cardio-respiratory performance by permitting a gradual metabolic adaption period.
- Allows for a gradual distribution of blood flow to active muscles.
- Increases the elasticity of connective tissue.
Ending Equine Fitness Sessions with a Cool Down
Same as mentioned with the warm-up- body type, climate, the density of coat, fitness level, etc. can vary what type of cool down your horse may need to support their wellness. But these six reasons are why it should become a part of your routine:
- Reduces the immediate post-exercise tendency for muscles to cramp up or spasm.
- Reduces the concentration of exercise hormones.
- Prevents post-exercise venous blood pooling.
- Promotes nervous system health by releasing heat generated by exercise. (The nervous system and brain are sensitive to overheating.)
- Allows the horse's heart rate and circulation to return to a normal range.
- Reduces the risk of heat-trapping within the core of the body, muscles, and brain. Trapped heat in horses has been linked to issues like colic, heatstroke, metabolic collapse, tying up, etc.
Bonus Tips to Know if Your Horse is Cooled Down:
- Breathing patterns have returned to normal
- The chest area feels cool to the touch
- Your horse's heart rate has returned to normal
- The temperature has returned to normal
Implement these warm-up and cool-down tips to keep your horse fit and to do your part in reducing the risk of injury by setting the body up for successful riding sessions.