Conditioning Your Horse for the Summer

Would you like to learn more about conditioning your horse for the summer? Review the chat summary to see what our experts discussed in a previous web chat.

Conditioning for the Summer
HorseQuest experts include:

  • Colleen Brady, Purdue University
  • Carey Williams, Rutgers University
  • Ed Johnson , University of Florida
NOTE: This transcript is from an online, live chat. The major topics have been captured in the material below. If you have further questions, please search the eXtension Horses page for

Conditioning Horses for Performance

Learn about conditioning programs for horses and preparing them for more intense riding during the spring and summer.


Is Your Horse Fit?

As the weather gets warmer and riding activities and competitions increase, it is important for horse owners to start thinking about conditioning their horses. Lack of intense work and activity over the winter can leave your horse unfit. In order to best prepare the horse, a conditioning program should be aimed specifically towards an event. Considerations should include …

Equine Thermoregulation

How Do Horses Stay Cool During Work and Exercise?

Authors: Craig Wood, Ashley Griffin, University of Kentucky

Thermoregulatory mechanisms in the horse are very important during exercise and work. Heat production occurs with the metabolism of fuels for exercise. Thoroughbred racehorses produce enough heat to increase their body temperature 3.25º C to 5.42º C. As in human athletes, the equine athlete’s thermoregulatory system utilizes convection, radiation, respiratory losses, and evaporation to remove heat from the body. …

Energy for Equine Performance: Anaerobic Metabolism

A horse’s performance is dependent on a number of factors, including health, nutrition, and environmental temperature. Energy is defined as the capacity to do work. The amount of energy available for muscular work is the most important factor in a horse’s performance. Athletic performance requires the efficient utilization of large amounts of energy transformed by metabolic pathways from chemical to kinetic energy for muscle contraction. This kinetic energy is in the form of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. The muscles …

Basic Conditioning of the Equine Athlete

Author: Ashley Griffin, University of Kentucky

Basic conditioning of the equine athlete involves consideration of the event in which the horse will be competing, the level of competition that you expect the horse to achieve, the time you have in which to condition the horse, and the horse’s previous conditioning for the event.

The goal of any basic conditioning program is to enhance the psychological and the physical responses to exercise. Psychological responses with conditioning include greater confidence and …

Equine Muscle Fiber Types

In equine athletes, muscle fibers are classified as either slow twitch or fast twitch fibers.

Types of Muscle Fibers

Slow twitch, or Type I, fibers are highly oxidative, meaning they use aerobic metabolism to produce energy-generating ATP. These fibers are used for endurance and are said to be “fatigue-resistant” because they are capable of reducing the toxic end products of metabolism, such as lactate.

Fast twitch, or Type II, fibers are subdivided into Type II A and Type II B …

Energy for Equine Performance: Aerobic Metabolism

Aerobic Metabolism

Aerobic metabolism is dependent on oxygen to break down fuel stores in the horse. Initially, there are limited amounts of oxygen reserves in the body that are present in myoglobin and hemoglobin. These molecules carry oxygen to the muscle and other tissues. However, these oxygen stores only last a few seconds to produce limited amounts of ATP. Inhaled oxygen during aerobic exercise is carried to the muscles and liver to metabolize carbohydrates and fats for the production of …