Ready for the off! Advice to prepare for a busy hunting season *H&H Plus*

Is your hunter prepared for the rough and tumble of the months ahead? Lesley Barwise-Munro MRCVS offers advice on surviving the season

Hunters are traditionally turned away at the end of a hard season for a long summer break, to regain body condition and to recover from any minor injuries.

Although some specific health issues may justify giving a horse a prolonged period of time off, with a gradual reintroduction to exercise, it is debatable whether three full months out of work is beneficial. Fitness has been shown to drop from two weeks onwards, with a small amount still present after week six and almost nothing by weeks 10 to 12.

Preparation for the season can then be a battle, especially if the horse becomes overweight and risk of injury is high. But there is individual variation in how quickly fitness is lost and regained. Thoroughbred types are more likely to maintain condition and less inclined to gain excess weight.