Horse Health & Fitness

How do we get our horses in shape for riding season?

Stinking Spring March 2015

If any of you have followed us on Facebook, which we are sure a lot of you do :),  you will notice we don’t do a lot of flat land riding. However, we can’t just throw our horses into high altitude riding without getting them in shape first. Just as us humans can’t go climb Mt. Borah (the tallest peak in Idaho) without doing some easier hikes first.


So this brings us to the question… how do Amy and Maggie get their horses in shape? Well as soon as most of the snow melts, and the weather turns nicer, we are out on the trails. However, since it is early season there is far too much snow in the high country and that doesn’t start to melt until late June or later.  Since we live in Idaho we have a lot of desert riding we can do and we are also fortunate enough to have the foothills of Idaho. These are at a much lower elevation so the snow melts sooner and it offers the hills that will help us build up the muscle in our horses. There is also a local ski hill that is at a lower elevation. It has several trails that are open to us as well as hikers, bikers, and motor bikes.  The ski hill is a constant climb to the top, perfect for getting those muscles warmed up.

We also have some Wild Life Managment areas that are great for riding. To find local WMA near you, do a search. We searched WMA in Idaho and came up with this comprehensive list from the Fish and Game website. It divides all the WMA by regions in Idaho and gives you directions on how to get their along with a guide to the activities that are permitted at each site.

If you have difficulty finding areas to ride that are outdoors or you want a place to ride during the winter, there are also indoor riding arenas. We used to ride in these a lot during the winter months, until we discovered skiing. The only drawback to these is that most arenas charge a fee to ride in them and it can get crowded. You have to work around their scheduled events too, but if you’re lucky enougth to find an arena to ride in, it’s a start.

Now, we usually start riding in late March ( sometimes Feburary ) or April depending on the weather. It is very unpredictable here in Idaho. We try to get our horses out at least twice a week but that is sometimes tricky since we still have those adult responsiblities of a job and don’t get out of school until June.

While riding in these areas are a good start to getting our horses in shape for the kind of riding we like to do. It doesn’t fix all problems that we have at the start of the year, such as the change in elevation or the long 15-20 miles or more, rides we like to do. So because of the love we have for our horses we make sure we take an easy on them the first few times out. We let them rest often after a long haul up the mountain and we find trails that maybe aren’t as long when we are first getting started.   We do ride with our saddlebags most the time to get them conditioned to carrying the extra weight also. We pack them light to start and increase the weight over time.

Let us know where you bring your horses to get them in shape for the kind of riding you like to do!


  1. Jon Tanner

    I make several trips in the winter to Southern Utah. It is much warmer and lower elevation, But still has some climbs for the horses to work at.. In March I start riding the South facing foothills where the horses have to climb. And we continue our trips to desert areas of the state.


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