Its miserable, the arena is frozen and its pitch black at 3pm! Just a few things that put us off exercising our horses in the winter time! However, it doesn’t take much to keep your horse ticking over during the bad weather. Here are our top 3 tips for surviving the cold winter weather!
In hand hacking
Why bother taking off multiple rugs, changing into cold riding boots and spending 10 minutes getting tacked up! Keep your already warm yard boots and gloves on, stick on a hat and a reflective jacket and take your horse out for a walk! We are lucky here at Outline HQ that we have great nature trails right on our doorstep which go on for miles. There are tons of benefits to taking your horse out in hand:
– It’s a workout for yourself too (especially if you can find some hills!)
– Less preparation time (no tack required!)
– Your horse can stay cozy under a light rug or fleece
– You can monitor the conditions under foot – especially if you are worried about potential icy patches and slipping!
– Without a saddle and a rider on his back, your horse has the freedom to move and stretch his back a little bit more (especially up hills) which is good for his core stability
If you can go hacking in hand, what is stopping you from getting your pole exercises done in hand too? Keep a cozy rug on your horse, get a headcollar/cavasson and a long line and get down to the arena and do some walk exercises.
I recommend people do 6 repetitions of each exercise in hand in walk (on both reins) and most of the exercises I prescribe involve 2 or 3 poles maximum. Usually one set up can provide 2 or 3 different exercises! So 10 minutes and your done – easy!
Okay, so pole exercises in walk aren’t going to get your horse competition fit but they are fantastic for your horses coordination, balance and core stability which are essential to performance!
Everyone has heard of the term ‘Carrot Stretches’ haven’t they? I prefer the term ‘Baited Exercises’ because:
1) Carrots are not my treat of choice to use
2) These exercises are achieving a lot more than just ‘stretching’.
I use a ‘Horselyx Mini‘ to perform my Baited Exercises in the stable; they don’t break into pieces, horses can’t snatch or bite a piece off and you can usually keep their attention for longer!
These exercises should be part of your regular routine throughout the year but especially in the bad weather when your horse is stabled more and exercising less. They are easy and quick to perform and don’t require you to leave the stable! Perfect for those cold, miserable evenings!
For more information on pole or baited exercises please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org