Turnout for the performance horse is often met with conflicting opinions, particularly in winter. Dee So’oialo of Dynamic Sports Performance explains the anatomical benefits behind field time...
For owners of performance horses, finding the balance between their equine “doing a job” and “being a horse” can be difficult, with the job often taking priority. Plus in winter, practicality or yard rules often dictate whether it is possible to turn out our competition horses.
However, even with sufficient turnout options, many professionals in the northern hemisphere have long favoured keeping their horses stabled in winter, believing the potential dangers of the paddock outweigh the benefits. A combination of this risk and the desire to keep competition horses immaculately presented has created a norm of performance horses often not being turned out at all in winter and insufficiently in summer.
But times appear to be changing, with top riders beginning to recognise the benefits of regular turnout. Living out or allowing turnout for short periods to offer breaks in a competition schedule is growing in popularity, with riders reporting positive effects on their horses’ mental wellbeing, reduced stiffness and a lower rate of stable vices.
Soft tissue therapist to some of the best horse and rider combinations, and working alongside top experts in their field, Dee So’oialo (née Holdsworth) is making her mark on equestrian athletic performance. Dee is one of only 20 therapists in the UK to be qualified in rider and equine fascial manipulation and combining performance analysis with rider strength and conditioning. Dee heads up Dynamic Sports Performance, which supports optimal rider and equine athletic performance and aims to change the way we think about the horse and rider relationship.
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