How Much Exercise Do Horses Need?

Horses are active animals, and regular exercise is essential to their physical and mental health. In fact, regular movement actually helps a horse’s circulatory and lymphatic systems work properly, as the contraction and expansion of their hooves under their body weight help to pump blood and fluids up from their legs. So, how much exercise do horses need to stay healthy?

How Much Exercise Do Horses Need?

Put simply, horses require a lot of physical activity to stay healthy and fit.
For comparison, while moving between their grazing pastures and water sources, wild horses can cover as many as 20 to 50 miles every day. Throughout their days, wild horses mostly get slow, steady exercise that’s punctuated with short bursts of more vigorous activity.
Although most domesticated horses won’t cover as many miles during their days, they do need opportunities for moving about every day. Without encouragement, a domestic horse won’t automatically be as active as it needs to be to stay healthy. While most horses might exhibit an initial burst of energy when let out to pasture, they won’t remain active for long. Instead, they’ll likely stand around while they wait to be fed.
To encourage more activity, it’s best to let horses out for grazing in groups. In groups, horses will get the kind of steady exercise they need, walking around for hours. You can also spread out a horse’s hay so that they amble around while grazing, you can take them out for slow walks, or lead them around the pasture.

Every Horse Is Different: Personalized Exercise, Nutrition, and Lifestyle Guidance for Horses

Yes, generally speaking, horses need a lot of daily exercise to stay healthy and keep their circulatory and lymphatic systems operating properly. Every horse, however, is different and will have slightly different exercise needs for maintaining optimal fitness. Additionally, as you increase or decrease your horse’s activity level or change the type or intensity of activity, their nutritional needs can change also. Plus, your horse’s activity level, fitness, and capabilities can be drastically affected by the changing weather through the summer heat and into the cool of winter.
Our equine veterinary specialists at Advanced Equine of the Hudson Valley can help you determine the best turnout, exercise, and nutritional routine for your horse based on the season and your horse’s age, breed, fitness, medical history, and purpose. To learn more or to schedule an appointment for your horse, we welcome you to contact our office in Fishkill today.