Horse Exercise Winter Training Tips
Winter is on the horizon. This is not always the best time for horses to exercise and ride. You might see this as a good time for you and your horse to hibernate indoors, enjoy the holidays and relax. Planning some time for fitness and exercise will help your horse retain some muscle tone and endurance, minimizing risks for injuries in the more accommodating spring weather.
One of the disadvantages to exercising outdoors in the wintertime is that ground surfaces can be uneven. This gives your horse more opportunity to strain tendons and muscles as you ride. Spending less time on your horse lowers the chances of muscle strain, but riding less can minimize exercise and cause a loss in muscle tone. Stick to locations with a reliable footing surface to lessen the risk without taking fitness out of the equation.
Exercising Without Riding
Using a horse exerciser is one way to ensure that horses get enough physical exercise to prevent loss of muscle tone and strength during the winter months. While many horses are given time off in the wintertime because there are no shows or upcoming competitions, it’s still important for them to stay physically fit. Letting them stay in the stable and eat hay may be relaxing, but it will require extra efforts come springtime. A daily exercise routine without riding can do just that.
If cooler temperatures and poor weather conditions due to precipitation happen more often than not, you may wish to keep your horse indoors or in a protected area. Providing ample warmth and an opportunity to get exercise to walk or run and stay warm and dry are also options, however. Using an indoor arena during the winter months can prevent outdoor discomfort for your horse, as well as for the trainer, while keeping those extra pounds at bay.
Limited time availability during daylight hours can also put a damper on winter exercise. Set a consistent routine for your horse to have ground training and exercise, even when you’re not available to ride or the weather isn’t cooperating.
For horses that have a minimal exercise routine during the winter months, it’s important that they receive a body conditioning score before planning out their springtime workouts. Finding out what its needs are can help you create a balanced plan that will help in conditioning and achieving the proper weight for shows and competitions.