It’s quite common for horse owners to reduce their horse’s exercise during the winter months. With how it is cold and there can be snow and wet, many horse owners opt for turning their horse out instead and return to their exercise routines in the spring. Exercising your horse shouldn’t stop just because the temperature drops, though.
Why You Should Be Exercising Your Horse In Winter
There are many reasons why you should be exercising your horse in winter. Exercising your horse can help improve your horse’s circulation and distribute nutrients throughout their body. It can also work to stave off winter weight loss, because you are working to maintain their muscle mass.
Maintaining an exercise routine in the winter months also works to direct the energy cold weather brings on into a productive, safe outlet, as opposed to shenanigans that can lead to injury. It gives your horse something to do and a routine, which keeps them from becoming bored.
Plus, sticking to an exercise routine ensures that your horse continues to see you as a leader and that they maintain their ground manners. It also prevents the potential struggle of getting your horse back into the routine of regular exercise in the warmer months if you never stopped in the first place.
Tips For Exercising Your Horse In Winter
Dress For The Weather
The cold is a big deterrent to riders during the winter months, especially since a lot of people don’t dress for the cold. Dressing for the weather will make exercising your horse in winter a lot easier, since you won’t get so cold. If you ride English, there are insulated breeches you could invest in. If you ride Western, there are lined jeans. Regardless of your discipline, a warm sweater, jacket, gloves, and socks are a must to stave off numbness and chills. Dressing for the weather is a must for exercising your horse.
Check In With Your Farrier
Your farrier is an expert on your horse’s hooves. When it comes to winter seasons, riding and turnout could mean your horse’s hooves need altered care in order to give them the best traction possible. Your farrier will be able to advise you on any shoeing or trimming changes they recommend based on your horse and your activities in order to keep your horse as sure-footed as possible.
Spend Extra Time Warming Up
When it’s colder, you need to allot for extra time to warm your horse up in order to prevent injury and strain. Your horse’s muscles and tendons will need extra time to warm up, so make sure you account for that when exercising your horse.
Be Prepared For A Fresh Horse
It’s no secret that colder weather leads to spiked energy levels in horses. You should be prepared to burn off some of that excess energy before getting into your work, either through lunging them or working with them until you feel like they are under control.
Don’t Overheat Your Horse
It’s okay to give your horse a workout, so long as you are mindful of the fact that getting your horse sweaty means that you need to be prepared to spend additional time cooling them down so that they don’t get sick. You don’t want to overheat your horse. Your horse sweating in the cold is no more fun than you sweating in the cold, so bear that in mind, especially with how a thick winter coat will stay sweaty a lot longer than a short summer one.
Even if you don’t ride, groundwork is an excellent way to keep your horse moving and to reinforce their manners. You can do simple exercises defining your personal space, practice leading them around, working on commands, do work on the lunge line, or free lunge. These will all get your horse moving, maintain their manners, and keep them seeing you as a herd leader.
Spend Extra Time Cooling Down
During the winter months, you’ll want to spend twice as much time cooling your horse down as you usually do. This is because if you put your horse away when they’re still hot, they can get a cold, especially if they sweat. You’ll want to spend time walking them, and then after you dismount, loosen the girth, but don’t take the saddle off immediately. This is so that cold air doesn’t get to your horse’s hot muscles, which could make them cramp.
You may decide to use a cooler to help cool them out, especially if they take a long time to cool down. You may also want to use a towel or cloth to rub sweat away. After they’ve cooled down and their coat is dry, then you can put them away.
Groom Before And After Exercise
You want to make sure that you groom your horse both before and after exercise, especially in the winter. This is because you need to put more effort into maintaining your horse’s coat during the winter, since it is thicker, and thus is more difficult to keep clean. It takes more time to groom your horse during the winter, but taking that time is essential to prevent dirt and grime from accumulating on their coat, which can lead to issues over time. Grooming your horse both before and after exercising them will go a long way to keeping them clean and healthy.
Keep Them Hydrated
Keeping your horse hydrated is essential, especially after exercising them. This can be a challenge in the winter months, because horses are less inclined to want to drink cold water. An automatic waterer like the kind Bar Bar A offers will keep their water at a comfortable temperature all year round, so that your horse can stay hydrated after their exercise.
Keeping Your Horse Healthy In The Winter
Bar Bar A can help you keep your horse happy and healthy this winter with automatic waterers that provide a constant source of water. Our waterers are made to be temperate all year round, meaning that the water doesn’t overheat in summer and doesn’t freeze in winter. If you’d like to learn more about our automatic waterers, don’t hesitate to contact us today!