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How to bring a horse back to exercise safely after injury *H&H Plus*

Many horses will have had a season out of work due to the cancellation of the majority of competitions. Laura Fitzharris MRCVS advises on how we can bring them back to their job safely

The best way to return a horse to exercise after a period of rest is an age-old topic. With the recent lockdown situation many horses have had a prolonged holiday, but with the competition season back up and running there are factors we must consider when returning them to work. The principles discussed are similar for horses that have had a holiday over the winter period or are returning to training following treatment for an injury.

The first thing to consider is what effect a period of rest has on a horse’s body. In all cases, a reduction in exercise level will result in a loss of muscle mass which can occur after even a few weeks of reduced activity.

The amount of muscle loss is often horse-dependent and will vary based on age, body condition before the rest period and what activity the horse has been undertaking during the rest period, such as field turnout or strict box rest.