When your horse has had a holiday, whether it be due to the weather, an injury, a vacation etc., they are bound to lose shape and muscle. There are a number of techniques one can use to help rebuild muscles and help get your horse back into their shape.
Note: Even if a horse is on holiday, it is best to make sure they continue to keep moving. Either lung, hand walk, walker, let loose out.
Always free lunge a horse a few times before riding when coming back from a break. This insures not only your safety but it also allows your horse to stretch out (don’t forget to warm them up first).
Warm up & Cool down
Once you’re riding again, make sure you start with a proper warm up, and end with a proper cool down. Start slow and ride loose for the first few of rides. (Details on: warming up & cooling down your horse).
Up & Down Hills
Make the most of the nature around you and try to go on as many trail rides as possible. Walking on a number of surfaces helps strengthen your horses legs, and going up and down hill (walking makes them use themselves more) help build their back and hind muscles. (only trot in the desert if sand is NOT deep). You can read more on the Necessity & Safety of Hacking here.
Use cavalettis, ground poles, and weave through cones to help your horse use their hind, back, and gain flexibility. You can do trot poles, canter poles, low cavaletti jumps, then upgrade to small cross-poles.
Change transitions from walk, extended walk, trot, extended trot, canter etc. This helps to encourage your horse to bring his hind under and carry himself better and rounder.
Even though it takes years for a horse and rider to perfect lateral exercises, try leg yielding, half passes, turning on forehand, shoulder fore and shoulder ins to help develop balance, coordination and a round frame.
Note: make sure you increase your horses feed gradually as they get more and more exercise.
Hope this helps 🙂