Desert Horse Recommends:
Equine Fitness
A Conditioning Program of Exercises & Routines for Your Horse


Jec Aristotle Ballou, author of Equine Fitness, A Conditioning Program of Exercises & Routines for Your Horse, had me from the first paragraph of the first chapter.

“It frequently surprises me how little equestrians seem to know about how their horses’ muscular systems function. Many riding frustrations can be answered and questions answered with a rudimentary understanding of basic anatomy and muscle function, so it is important to understand how and why the horse’s body does or does not respond to what we ask of it every day.”

I couldn’t say (or write) it better myself.

I like this book mainly because of its holistic approach to teaching riders to look at the big picture when working with their horses. The beautifully illustrated chapters guide readers through a mix of training exercises and bodywork techniques that are sure to teach mindful horsemen and -women the connections between anatomy and movement.

The clearly worded text provides step-by-step instructions for both the bodywork and the mounted exercises. And you’ll see some familiar names in the credits, with techniques and exercises contributed by Jessica Jahiel, Betsy Steiner, Sherry Ackerman and more.


To make it even easier for riders to try the techniques, the book includes a pull-out section of 4 x 5 cards illustrating and outlining each of the exercises for you to take to the barn. I suggest taking the time to have the cards laminated so you’ll have them for years.

One note of caution from someone who has seen over-stretching do more harm than good: the book does include a shoulder rotation and a hip stretch that I suggest you take the time to learn from an experienced practitioner. “Feel” is everything in these more advanced stretches and unless you’ve done a lot of bodywork, you might inadvertently go too far.

Otherwise, I suggest recommend Equine Fitness for horse owners of all levels. More beginning riders will find some exercises appropriate to their skills and others they can work up to. Experienced riders will gain insight into the biomechanics behind familiar exercises and might find some new ideas to add interest to their conditioning routines.



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