Muscles Don't Have an Off-Season
Bodywork isn't seasonal
It's late fall in the Midwest. The weather is blustery and the horse show season has wound down so I often hear something along these lines lately:
"I'll get my horse back on a regular schedule with you when it's show season."
I internally cringe when I hear these words. Your horse's muscles don't have an off-season. There's no magical switch in your horse's body that flips when the days get shorter to prevent him/her from accruing muscular stress just because you are not actively training for a show.
Keep in mind that if you choose to give your horse the winter off, periods of lesser activity lasting longer than a month can weaken deep postural muscles and supporting soft tissue (Ballou, 2014). Following layoffs longer than a month, losses of musculoskeletal strength, bone density and tendon and ligament tonicity can be detected (Ballou, 2014). Once these structures are weakened, they take considerably longer than the cardiovascular system to be re-conditioned.
Similarly, if you remove regular bodywork from your horse's routine for an extended period of time, don't expect every positive change that your equine bodyworker helped make in your horse to last forever. Once you re-introduce bodywork, your practitioner will likely have some "catching up" to do. Bodywork produces the best results when utitilized on a regular schedule and this is one reason why I encourage owners to keep their horse on a maintenance schedule.
Ormston, Bill. "Chiropractic Care in the Winter". Holistic Horse. Web. 21 Nov. 2017
Steelman, Samantha. "Conditioning Through the Seasons: Fall and Winter". The Horse. 6 Oct. 2017. Web. 21 Nov. 2017
Ballou, Aristotle Jec. "Conditioning Your Horse During Downtime". Horse Journals. 2014. Web. 21 Nov. 2017
Boyd, Emma. "Effect of Winter on Your Animals Joints". Pegasus Magazine. 19 Feb. 2013. Web. 21 Nov. 2017
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