Riding in an arena for an hour or going on a short trail ride is a far different experience than an all-day ride. Without proper conditioning, outfitting, and handling, your horse can suffer painful consequences from extended riding time.
Ranchers, serious trail riders, and endurance competitors know what it takes to minimize saddle soreness.
Mary Davis is the horse manager for CS Cattle Company in Cimarron, New Mexico. With hours of saddle time working cattle on the ranch, she’s learned to spot the subtle signs of a sore-backed horse.
“If your horse’s attitude has changed, what have you changed?” Davis asks. “How are you riding him? Did you get a new saddle, saddle pad, or girth?”
Jeanette Mero, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and endurance rider based in Mariposa, California. She says most equine body soreness comes from lack of fitness.
“Do your homework well ahead of time to have your horse fit, and spend time in the saddle prior to any kind of long ride,” Mero says. “An endurance horse, for example, won’t get terribly sore if he’s properly trained and conditioned. Muscle fatigued, yes, but not really sore.”
Lari Shea of Mendocino, California, is an endurance rider with nearly four decades of experience leading weeklong riding vacations. Before you set out on an extended ride, she says, know how long your ride will be, the approximate elevation gain, and the trail terrain (such as sand or rock). Then you’ll know whether your horse is fit enough for the ride and shod or booted appropriately. →
These experts will share their guidelines for preventing equine soreness before, during, and after your ride. Plus, they’ll give you tips on preventing rider soreness. Click here!