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Equine Fitness: A Program of Exercises and Routines for Your Horse Paperback – Dec 9 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC; Pap/Crds edition (Dec 9 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603424636
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603424639
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 1.3 x 27.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #55,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From the Back Cover

Total-Body Conditioning for Your Healthiest Horse


Keep your horse fit, happy, and eager to please with exercise routines that are simple to follow and fun to perform. Designed to improve equine strength and agility, these exercises give every horse -- regardless of age, ability, or discipline -- the fitness training to perform at consistently high levels. Additional benefits of these routines include increased stamina, improved range of motion, and fewer injuries in your well-conditioned horse.

About the Author

Jec Ballou is the author of  101 Western Dressage Exercises for Horse & Rider101 Dressage Exercises for Horse & Rider, and Equine Fitness. She is a national advisor to the Western Dressage Association of America and contributed to the current rules for the sport. She teaches clinics across the United States. She lives in Santa Cruz, California.

Inside This Book

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is very entertaining! It has beautiful illustrations, plenty of exercises, and even little cards for each exercise that you can take out of the book and bring with you! I haven't managed to finish all of it but it is very informative and a great read!
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By Amazon Customer on Nov. 22 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fantastic book. Easy to follow and understand. love the pull-out pages in the back. Best equine training book ever.
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By Elizabeth A. Innes on Nov. 26 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Extremely disappointed. Tedious to read.
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By silvertango on Oct. 5 2014
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 61 reviews
51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Finally I know what, when, and how to help my horse Nov. 7 2010
By Katherine Sierra - Published on
Format: Paperback
I have bought three copies of this book so far: one I gave away to my trainer (who loved it), one to mess with (cut out cards, write notes on, drag out to the barn, etc.), and one to keep on the coffee table for constant reference. Just the chapter and exercises on the horse's neck were, for me, the best and clearest description of how to help build your horse's top line in the most effective, healthy way was worth much more than the price of the book.

I have gained a lot more confidence from Jec's clear, careful explanations and the excellent illustrations, so that I now have a plan when I go out to work with my horses. As winter and rain season approaches, I also now feel like I have exercises I can do even in a very small space, and even if it is too wet to actually ride. I spent the last year working on getting one of my gaited horses to trot, and trot with a good stretched top line and also 'on the bit', but was still struggling until Jec helped put the rest of the pieces together.

Just a few of the specific things I have learned to do in this book include:
How to do a proper warm-up
Vary the workouts throughout the week and month to better "cross-train" my horses for better sustainable fitness
How to strengthen the hind end
The importance of working on getting the correct bend, and tools for helping make it happen
How and why NOT to make the most common mistake of "forcing" contact in a frame the horse is not ready for (and how to evaluate what they ARE ready for)
How to bring a horse back from a vacation or other layoff
How to work the older and/or stiffer horse
But mainly, I now have a much deeper understanding and rich toolset for helping my horses become better athletes in a way that is sustainable, healthy and feels good for both horse and rider.

I have Icelandic horses -- all gaited -- and though this book does not address specific development of gaited horses, everything in it is exactly what my horses need to work better in all gaits, and especially to enhance their "special" gaits (tolt and flying pace).

What the book does NOT address (or try to) is rider performance and fitness. So, that needs to
be the next book please! Because as wonderful as the book is, it is clear that some of what horses need to become better athletes is simply for us to become better riders.
Overall, this is the best money I have spent on a horse book... all three times!
42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Good for ideas, but take the information with a grain of salt Sept. 27 2012
By Kate - Published on
Format: Paperback
The exercises are useful and Ballou makes plenty of good points.

On the other hand, she doesn't provide any sources (only a "resources" section, which is not the same thing). It would seem the majority of the knowledge that she shares here is more traditional than scientific, despite repeatedly telling you what is shown by studies she does not cite. This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine when authors insist on saying "studies show" fairly often and write as though they are operating on scientific knowledge. If you're going to talk about what studies show, you need to cite the studies doing the showing.

For example, parts of the "cooling down" section I know are factually incorrect as I've attended veterinary seminars that discuss this very topic by researchers whose whole careers are dedicated to studying equine fitness.

The idea that in order to cool down a horse you have to cool down the blood should appear false on its face when you actually take a moment to consider it. The horse's blood isn't creating heat--the muscles are. So cooling down a horse's blood isn't going to cool down your horse if the muscles are still creating heat. Where Ballou recommends using "tepid water" only on specific parts of the horse's body, applying cold water to the horse's entire body is actually more effective as it cools the source of the heat--the muscles--which is really what you ought to be cooling down anyway. Stiffness and a build-up of lactic acid should not be your primary concern if you're exercising your horse on a hot day--heatstroke and dehydration should be. In that case, cooling the horse's muscles down ASAP should be your number one priority, and cold water is the best way to do that.

Ballou also recommends trotting a horse to cool down, which has been shown not to cool down a horse at all for reasons that should be evident--you're still working the horse's muscles, so their muscles are going to continue to produce more heat (and more lactic acid, for that matter). Walking to cool down is a better option, as that will in reality contribute to a great decrease in the amount of heat and lactic acid produced by the horse's muscles.

This isn't a terrible book, and as I said, Ballou does make some good points for the layperson and the exercises are great to give you ideas. But I would caution readers to take what she has to say with a grain of salt as Ballou is a dressage trainer, not a veterinarian, and does not cite her sources when discussing the more scientific aspects of equine fitness, which throws many of her conclusions into doubt.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
A Masterpiece! Feb. 12 2010
By Linda Rose Schaap - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jec Ballou has written a Masterpiece work which is a cummulation of her studies, experience, equine knowledge, and love and respect for this wonderful animal. This book is a must for anyone, from beginner to experienced level, and will assist greatly in achieving a balanced, healthy horse who enjoys his/her work, and will enjoy years of soundness and athletic performance that can only come from a proper foundation. I found that the way she has written the book, the application of her program can be implemented at any stage, whether you are just starting a youngster, want to purify the movements of your horse, or keep your senior companion sound and willing. The pull out cards that you can take with you while working are great, too. I want to buy a second one just to save for my library.
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
But not what I expected Dec 9 2011
By Lastopranch - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With a title like "Equine Fitness, A Conditioning Program of Exercises & Routines for your Horse" I expected to see lots of different exercises and routines. I didn't think that this book would be an Equine Physiology Book- including Massage Therapy, Acupressure on the Equine Meridian system or stretching exercises which you do to your horse. These are all good things to know, and which I have studied, but I wanted to find an equine fitness program to condition my horse, in winter and all the other seasons. My biggest disappointment came when I found that all the exercises were for english riding, my first clue should have been the comment "Author of 101 Dressage Exercises". I'm not saying that these aren't good for all modalities of riding but as Western Rider I use a loose rein, my seat and my body to tell my horse how fast I want him to go, when to stop and which way to turn. I liked the little cards in the back which you could tear out and take to the arena but I would have rather had some general fitness exercises, suppling exercises, strength exercises and/or rehabilitating exercises.... for riding in a Western Saddle or even bareback.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A fabulous book for anyone June 1 2011
By priceless - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book as I have a horse with a stifle injury and he also does not carry him self correctly due to the injury, so searched the internet to find help on how to get him sound again, I found a link on line that pointed to this book and they raved about it, I can report that the book is in deed a great find, had loads of interesting information, and the best part are the pull out cards, you can take to the arena with you and refer to them as you work the horse, the book is clear, concise and the drawings are great and show what you need to know, I would highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the fitness and conditioning of their horse.