Readers Share Equine Exercise Regimens

More than 1,150 readers of TheHorse.com responded to a poll asking, "During peak riding times in your region, how often do you ride or exercise your horses?"

results of poll on horse exercise time

Results were as follows: 
  • 2-4 times a week 47.75% (552)
  • 5-7 times a week 40.40% (467)
  • Once a week 8.56% (99)
  • I don't ride or exercise my horses 1.99% (23)
  • Once a month 1.30% (15)

Readers shared what they do to exercise their horses in the comments below.

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  • training
  • arena work and trail ride
  • trail riding, dressage
  • Lunge, Dressage work, trail ride
  • ride, turnout, and lunge
  • Not only do I love to ride but my horse loves the attention & exercise!
  • Lower level dressage and hacking out.
  • I ride my horse at least once a day if weather permits
  • trail ride or walks
  • yearling mare, lunging, both directions, 10 minutes max
  • riding and lunging
  • ring work or trail/dirt road riding
  • free lunge, long line,, ground drive,, and ride
  • mostly trail riding
  • dressage, jumping, trails, turnout
  • riding lessons, hand walking, lunging work in round pen, turn out.
  • trail
  • Miles of fun trail rides!
  • I try to get out 2-3 a week per horse (have 3)
  • round pen work, ring work, trail riding, hill work and straight line work on a dirt road
  • trail ride
  • round pen, ride in arena, or hack out across country
  • Lots of wet saddle blankets!
  • Ride or do groundwork. They're turned out 24/7 as well.
  • trail ride in hilly country mostly walk
  • 45 mins. walk, trot, canter
  • work in arena or field, trail ride
  • Will go trail riding or do training for western pleasure, which includes walk, trot, and canter.
  • Not nearly enough...
  • flat work, hack
  • trotting
  • ground work, lunging
  • equestrian drill team, trails, driving
  • hills; dry work
  • 24/7 turnout
  • We trail ride
  • ride or lungeline
  • Lunge, long rein, hand walk, ride in arena and on trails, obstacle courses
  • Mostly trail ride OR arena exercises
  • dressage, cross country, jumpnig schooling, or groundwork
  • Take them to the pasture
  • arena, trail, lunging, turnouts
  • Ride
  • trail ride and rope
  • dressage, handwalk
  • turnout,lunging,riding
  • beans
  • arena work, loungeing, and turn out
  • I ride dressage.
  • I work on flat 4 days a week, jumping 1 or 2 days a week and trail ride 1 day a week.
  • Trail riding for 2-5 hrs daily with major hills.
  • dressage
  • some round pen work, mostly ride in arena or trail when weather permits.
  • Trail riding
  • dressage training, trail riding
  • schooling at training level dressage, jumping, trails
  • hacking and schooling
  • so far walk them in hand
  • Hacking, schooling and lunging
  • Round pen exercises and lunging
  • trail riding, Combined driving
  • trail and flat arena work
  • lunge or trail ride
  • trail ride
  • trail and ring work
  • flat and jumping in the arena and 1 trail ride a week
  • south florida has no "off" season, we ride 24/7/365!
  • ride pipelines and trails
  • Broodmares on pasture
  • Lunge and ride at the walk trot and cantor
  • drive
  • lunge, ride or both
  • ride on the gravel roads in my area. Try to get to a trail area about 10 miles from my home.
  • Ride, ground work or turn out
  • DRESSAGE
  • trail ride & light dressage
  • trail ride
  • arena/and trails
  • ride in arena, out on trails, lunge, long line ground drive, cow clinics
  • dressage
  • trail riding on weekends & around farm during the week
  • trail riding
  • focused work sessions
  • hack, ring work
  • Train for competition and hack out. I would prefer to ride 5-6 days a week, but my schedule limits.
  • lunge or arena ride
  • lunging in round pen,ride
  • ride
  • I alternate between ring work and trails and lunging so my horse doesn't get sour.
  • Watch them mow the pasture and take them on trail rides.
  • rodeo and open area riding
  • currently all types of ground training, soon 30 day at trainer's
  • light riding over varied terrain, at least an hour a day!
  • performance
  • trail ride
  • trail ride, pen, ride 10 acre grass field
  • trail ride
  • trail ride
  • Ride in the pasture, the park, and lunge in the round pen.
  • Trail riding and areana training
  • I ride when my job lets me have the time to ride.
  • dressage & trail ride
  • ride 4 days including ring work and trail rides & lunge 2 days
  • flatwork 3 days a week, jumping 2 days, other 2 days off
  • arena and trail riding and lunging
  • trail riding
  • jog, ride, turn out in round pen
  • ringwork mostly
  • trail ride
  • Road work, ring work, cross country pony
  • trail ride
  • hire a trainer/ let friends ride/lease out the m
  • Parelli-ground work, arena, and trail rides, obstacles, clinics
  • dressage/trail riding
  • Dressage
  • Nothing right now, too hot.
  • Ride, Lunge
  • Ride on the flat almost daily, over fences 2x's per week
  • hack out or jump
  • ride/trail ride/lunging
  • arena work and trail riding
  • lunge and ride
  • work full time, only trail ride on weekends
  • trial ride or area work
  • Dressage
  • Ride and ground training
  • 6 times max, tehy always get a day off every week.
  • ring work, trail, road riding, hand walking
  • trail riding & packing
  • DRESSAGE & TRAIL
  • not enough
  • trail ride & camp
  • trail ride, they are not stalled but are pasture boarded
  • Round pen & ride in 8 acre woods behind my house
  • riding season is all year work as many as possible every day
  • trail ride
  • flat daily jump once a week
  • trail riding or we walk around finding grazzing spots
  • check pastures and ride down the road
  • loosening exercises, trotting, hills, jumping
  • loping circles, roll backs, lead changes, ride "down the road"
  • flat work and sm jumps
  • flat work, jumping, hacking
  • I rode 5-7 times a week but currently don't have a riding horse.
  • trail ride
  • ring work including walk/trot patterns and cantering
  • they are tirned out 24/7 with occasional short trail rides
  • lead, lunge, w/t/c, jump under 3', hack
  • mostly trail riding with lots of trotting and loping where the terrain permits it
  • dressage
  • dressage training with cross training on trails and in the fields.
  • arena work, trail rides
  • Dressage
  • trail ride, pasture play
  • lunging, dressage, jumping, eventing, trailriding, parelli play, swimming
  • Train them on the track.
  • DRESSAGE
  • long trail rides
  • flat work and trail riding
  • lungeing and trail riding
  • trail ride
  • i use to ride 3 times a week,but one horse is 30 and the other now has ringbone
  • play ground games and then ride.
  • Varying ride, lunge and pony, sometimes free lunge or free jump.
  • cross country /western games/ dressage/trail ride
  • long trot, lope, trail ride, work cattle
  • trot/canter 2-3 hours each ride
  • ride around the farm or trail
  • well actually that is # times i would like to trail ride, do ring work....
  • jump / flat
  • Ride on trails, gallop cross country, school in the ring, jump fences
  • trail and flatwork
  • Turn out, arena ride, trail ride.
  • trail rides
  • my lady is just an expensive lawn ornamant now that she's retired
  • ring work and trail
  • ride and lunge
  • I ride for at least 30 minutes once or twice a week when my field isn't too soggy to ride.
  • compete, trail ride and/or arena work
  • show horses so I school in my arena but either trail ride them before or after to keep them fresh
  • longe, then ride for 45-60 minutes
  • trial ride
  • Ranch Sorting and Dressage
  • drive carriage
  • lunge, ride
  • Lots of groundwork (7 games) and both arena (dressage) riding including lessons and trail rides
  • drive to a buggy
  • We either go to a sandy wash and long trot for 20-30 mins or do drills in the arena 20-30 mins
  • lounge or ride
  • Ring work, 20 minutes, then trail 30 min.
  • Trail ride except when the trails are underwater, then it's some ring work and/or ground work
  • Get it while you can!
  • trail & ring- dressage and starting jumping
  • Ride in the ring, go on trail rides, lead them on the trails, or lead them in the ring
  • Practice in the indoor arena for the shows
  • trail riding
  • ride- lunge
  • usually never under 4 times a week, but not over 5 times.
  • I returned riding one day 4 hrs next day 7 hrs & next day 3 hrs I trail ride whenever possible
  • Ground and riding training in the ring and field, plus trail riding in the national forest.
  • arena work and trail riding
  • Trail ride mostly, turnout if no time to ride out.
  • Huntseat, saddle seat, and western riding & driving. If time constraints then lunge for 20 minutes.
  • either ride or 2 turnouts a day
  • ring work, trail ride and lounging
  • Hack around the farm; Dressage training
  • Lounge first, then ride. Often in arena, often on trails.
  • Trial ride for 90% of the time the other 10% is lunging
  • Hacking and schooling
  • walk/trot
  • I ride 3-5 times/week with the trainer riding the rest. He has 1 day/week off for R&R.
  • he is out 24/7 accept in very bad/freezing weather.
  • dressage & trail rides
  • LOUNGE
  • We trail ride a lot!
  • Hill climb twice a week, flat work (trails) for times a week.
  • walk, trot, canter
  • arena, trail riding, cavaletti, Parelli
  • trail
  • trail dressage jump
  • In Kansas it gets hot and riding daily is hard, anyway horses don't need it everyday.
  • Trail, exercises in the pasture
  • arena work or riding out around the farm
  • Love ring work but get out on the trails as well for a break for them.
  • play in pasture/ride
  • ride them
  • bugs & work dependent ;-)
  • Dressage
  • Trail ride mountains and valleys.
  • hacking, schooling and jumping
  • walk, trot, canter and gallop if they want
  • Combination of arena work and trails to relax--Delaware, OH
  • ground work riding parrelli style!
  • Lots of suppling, giving the neck and poll. Trotting, some collection work. Trail ride to finish!
  • long walks, long trots, short canters & hand gallops & on line & liberty play
  • trail ride
  • Ride for 30min to an hur or more on the big farm in back of our house.
  • trail ride 3-4 hours at a time
  • trail ride, jump logs
  • I need him in peak shape for showing
  • First I start with lot of stretching, we do lots of long troting in proper collection.
  • Trail ride in the foothills.
  • trot sets, gallop, stretching
  • trail ride
  • schooling at home and trail riding
  • ride--ride down the road, ride in the field, at our peak, we go for a couple hours trotting/loping.
  • Trail riding
  • arena work and trail riding
  • trails and round pen
  • They are rescued race horses.
  • arena work, trail rides, hill work to build strength, lunge, variety to prevent boredom
  • arena and trails
  • trail rides
  • Build fitness, bone density & collection w/the jog cart, then ride 1-2 times/week.
  • Dressage, hacking & hill work
  • flat work, trail riding
  • Trail riding
  • 2 to 4 hours each ride
  • Dressage and a little trail riding for R&R
  • Walk, trot, canter and Jump 2'
  • trail ride
  • Trail riding and lungeing
  • I like to trail ride but I have a new horse so we are just riding in the arena for now.
  • trail ride, but our wet spring is putting a damper on it!
  • mostly hacking about - schooling 20 min a week. eg trotting exercise for 10 min, canter 3 min,
  • ring work
  • paddock turn out &/or longing, or ride
  • arena work, jump schooling and hacking
  • schooling, gymnastic jumping, hacking & roadwork and competing at shows
  • I do Parelli, I do what my horses horsenality needs, which is play! Very active, she is always fit!
  • short "trail" ride
  • 4-5 times/wk. 2 lessons: on flat, one jumping and 2 hacks
  • Dressage, jumping, farm riding, road riding
  • mostly schooling, then hacking with some jumping practice too Generally just have fun but try to re
  • TRAIL RIDING! Nothing beats getting in tune with Mother Nature
  • free lunge warm up, then trail ride
  • Ring work or trails, depending on the weather
  • build stamina, muscle, coordination and focus by trotting. will finish with a cool swim!
  • walk, trot and lope exercises for 30 minutes, than finish off w/ barrel runs and pole bending
  • arena/trail
  • walk trot and gallop conditioning for polo and playing them two to three days per week
  • Trail riding and arena work
  • round pen, trail ride, arena exercises
  • arena work and trail riding
  • arena lessons/trailride/lunging
  • Ride in the great outdoors down roads/trails
  • trail ride; my horse is 26 so we don't ride too hard bu the still thinks he
  • Ring work and trail ride
  • A lot of groundwork under saddle.
  • If I don't have time to ride, I have my horses turned out for exercise the remainder of the week.
  • trail ride and dressage
  • long trotting, loping circles, sprinting, quiet work
  • round pen, riding,
  • carriage driving
  • trail ride, ring work
  • trail ride
  • trail ride
  • hack in arena or lesson--hunter fences, 2-3 courses
  • dressage and trail
  • Ride the trails and non-trails.
  • trail, jumping, dressage
  • roundpen, lounge, trail ride or ride in pen
  • Trail rides/camp
  • reining
  • trail riding
  • trail ride
  • trackwork
  • longe, ride, run beside them
  • trail
  • I'd love to ride more, but having young kids limits riding time. Horses get daily attention @home!
  • Lunge, ride in the arena and trail ride
  • Trail riding 75% school work 25%
  • 3 days on 1 day off, 2 days on, 1 day off
  • arena work, ground work, trails
  • I work two mares in the round pen and then ride one of them on my property or in the neighborhood.
  • I walk & trot my clydie around in my 5 acre paddock as she doesn't need much exercise.
  • trail ride, some schooling and lunging
  • Trail ride
  • I mix up arena work with trail riding and driving
  • combination of lunging, cavaletti, flatwork, trail riding
  • Flat work, Jumpers, trail riding
  • Trotting, circles, low jumps, dressage test practice, transitions
  • dressage training and trail riding
  • I always mix it up...riding, long lining, free lunging, trail riding
  • Long trots, collected cantering, gallupping for training for polo, then scrimmaging
  • year round
  • conditioning and training for my three foxhunters, consist of lots of hacking in the hunt country an
  • Ride in the arena, trail rides, jumping.
  • work cattle or ride down a county road
  • trail ride
  • flatwork, trail, driving, jumping
  • trail ride, tune up when he needs it
  • ride and drive
  • I actually ride once or twice a week on trails, however, my gelding is on turnout everyday.
  • combined driving
  • Active (lots of trot & canter) trail riding. They also live out 24/7
  • walk,trot,canter
  • roundpen and trails
  • They are on 24/7 turnout in a large hilly pasture with an active small herd.
  • Every day, they exercise themselves walking on a steep mountain pasture.
  • I ride Endurance so we do long rides with varying speeds
  • round pen or trail ride
  • lunge, trail ride, round pen exercises
  • dressage work, jumping gymnastics and hill work for stability muscles.
  • longe, trail ride, practice in arena,
  • 3 TB jumpers; flatwork, working trail rides, of course jumping
  • Drive them (carting)
  • trail ride
  • We trail ride but my horses are also turned out 24/7
  • light ground work and trail ride
  • Free lunging, riding and trail riding
  • arena work and trail riding
  • distance conditioning rides
  • work at race track
  • Living next to Joshua Tree National Park offers many options for trail riding with my horses.
  • trail ride
  • w/t/c both directions. Jumping twice per week, trail ride every week, mock show every week
  • Trail riding and practicing Dressage movements
  • warm-up arena ride; then out on the trails
  • Trail ride, arena ride once a week, horse camping
  • trail riding - interval training
  • trail ride in the mountains GSMNP
  • varied routine, with ring work, some trail and some barrel racing
  • showmanship, freelunging, cavaletti, bareback, saddle work
  • dressage
  • Lounge & walking. she is aged & blind
  • trail ride and lessons
  • walk, trott, & lope twenty minutes
  • Bending and flexxion exercises then trail riding
  • dressage practice and lessons
  • Ride 5-6 days per week with turnout on off days.
  • I usually ride and do a little ground work as well. I know its not nearly enough
  • Full on training for hunter under saddle and western pleasure
  • Train for showing Western Pleasure
  • riding is pleasure trail or training time or conditioning time, all done mostly out in the hills
  • Gallop - they are racehorses
  • trail ride
  • trail ride
  • Unless there are extreme weather conditions I work my mare 5-7 days a week, year round.
  • riding
  • As we have no indoor, weather may limit exercise opportunities.
  • ride and lunging
  • trail ride and arena ride working on flexing and softness we also work on obstacles
  • lunging, arena riding, trail riding
  • ground work, riding in the arena and trail riding
  • trail ride and concentrated ring work
  • trail ride
  • trail ride
  • trail ride, hand walk, longing
  • 1.5-2 hour trails
  • trail ride and arena work also just playing in the pasture with them
  • Ride at least 1 hour 5 - 7 times a week alternating between slow and fast gaits
  • Mainly arena work - in the cool, non-bug seasons we trail ride
  • Lunge, Trail Ride
  • Walk, Trot, Canter, Jump, Gallop
  • I like to vary things Trail riding, ride hills for hind end strength, lounging, and ring work.
  • much more in summer break, plus less weather issues
  • some arena work, mostly on the trail
  • walk trot canter
  • trail ride
  • ride in the ring, jump and ride out
  • I don't get to spend nearly as much time riding as I would like
  • Trail ride
  • flatwork
  • At the very least 1, 2 hr ride/I try 2 ride 2-3X per week
  • Just trail ride.
  • Lounging, long lines, in hand trail walk, clicker training
  • trail ride
  • dressage/lunge youngsters
  • Trail in woods behind house, school in roundpen/arena, and ground work
  • Both my horses are retired so I don't ride at all, :( but I do give great care.
  • A variety of things, sprints, conditioning, spins, flexing exercises, trail riding, etc.
  • ring riding
  • trail riding - no ring work!!!
  • endurance 50 mls
  • Dressage, Driving, Trail riding
  • arena/obstacle work & trail rides
  • lots of troting,training,trail riding. 1-2 hours daily
  • trail rides and endurance rides
  • hillwork, trot and canter intervals, dressage, jumping, cross country
  • round pen and trail ride
  • Weather permitting; rainy days cancel riding time.
  • carriage driving, trail riding, longeing
  • I lunge or try to ride my horse up to a 1/2 a day if possible.
  • trail riding
  • ring work and trail
  • minimum of three days a week
  • Trail riding &driving
  • trail ride
  • trail ride, arena exercises, extensive ground work and hill therapy
  • Parelli games and trail riding
  • mostly trail ride but he also schools high hunter courses once a week
  • trail ride
  • We ride our horses every day unless it is too dangerous because of weather.
  • Trail riding with hills.
  • Trail Riding
  • lunging/arena work
  • mostly riding, some longing, some driving
  • have to make the most of a short season...
  • ring and trail work.
  • Horses get free exercise on full time pasture when not ridden.
  • Ring work and trails
  • 3 or more days - dressage or walk; 1 a 4 days - jump (little to hard exercises)
  • Ground work and in-saddle
  • walk up and down hills
  • Trail ride or arena exercise
  • ring work and trail riding.
  • round pen babies, ride and drive mature horses
  • low level event
  • They are turned out
  • Ride or lunge
  • dressage riding
  • Put them out to pasture to run and move as desired.
  • trail ride
  • long hand walks because he is 25 plus and very arthritic.
  • miles in the sand and polo
  • Mainly trails, cross train dressage, free longeing
  • teach lessons, trail ride, paper chases, pleasure drives
  • lunge and ground work
  • trail ride
  • trail riding
  • LONG TROTTING AND LEAD CHANGES

About the Author

Megan Arszman

Megan Arszman received a Bachelor of Science In print journalism and equine science from Murray State University in Murray, Ky., and loves combining her love of horses, photography, and writing. In her “free time,” when she’s not busy working as a horse show secretary or riding her American Quarter Horses on her parents’ Indiana farm, she’s training and competing her Pembroke Welsh Corgi and Swedish Vallhund in dog agility and running.

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