With the nights drawing in and the weather becoming rather wet it is never as enjoyable taking our dogs for a walk in winter as much as it is in the summer. But have you ever thought of trying something different? How about finding your dog some alternative forms of exercise which will stimulate him both mentally and physically and can be done in the comfort of your own home. You could teach your dog some tricks, teach your dog to dance or try some pole work exercises by enrolling on our Pole work for dogs online course. All of these activities can have additional benefits in that done correctly you will be stimulating your dog's mind while also improving their proprioception, balance and strength. This is important if you are wanting to help prevent injury or improve performance in your competition dog it is also good for those 'busy' dogs who find it hard to settle.
Dogs can suffer from back pain just like us but would you recognise subtle signs that your faithful friend may be in discomfort? A person may groan or hold their back as they stand up but more than likely they would tell you that their back was hurting. Your dog will not do this so how can we tell if they need treatment. We know ourselves that if our back hurts we will not be able to move as easily or as quickly as we can when we feel fit and healthy. We also may not want to be touched in case this increases the pain. By observing our dogs carefully and recognising early signs of discomfort we can take them for physical therapy before the problem escalates into a long term problem. Often as dog owners we can recognise if our dogs are moving differently but knowing what to look for can help earlier recognition of problems. Before looking for lameness or gait abnormalities we must know what is normal for a dog's gait. To do this we must understand gait patterns and how a dog should move in regard to their conformation. It is only when we understand this that we can start to recognise abnormalities and signs of discomfort in our dogs.
Owning and riding a horse can be an addictive experience. That sense of oneness with a powerful and yet gentle animal is a unique feeling. When riding our horses we aim for a sense of being at one with our horse and yet if we hold any physical tension this is difficult to achieve. Stiff, tense and unfit muscles can have a huge effect on our competitive performance as well as affecting our nerves if we do not feel safe and balanced. The rider's suppleness and fitness is therefore of great importance. A relaxed rider will have softer muscles and therefore more feel of how the horse is moving beneath them, they will be able to feel what the horse is thinking. A fit rider will also have quicker reactions and be able to maintain their balance for longer periods of time than an unfit one. It is also more comfortable for the horse when the rider is balanced, relaxed and still while sitting on their back. An unbalanced or crooked rider will put the horse at more risk of injury so rider fitness has many benefits. A rider fitness programme should include stretching, mobilising and strengthening exercises specific to the area of equestrianism that the rider partakes. It would after all be of little use a jockey and dressage rider doing the same exercises.
If you are interested in improving your connection with your horse than keep an eye out for our Rider Fitness course which will be coming soon.