Let’s face it, the colder it gets outside, the more we want to be inside. Unfortunately, our horses don’t have this option. Even though most people like to give their horses a break over the winter months, some physical condition needs to be maintained in order to keep your horse strong, healthy and happy. Creating a winter riding routine for you and your horse will keep you both on track and may relive some of those winter time blues.
Plan out your riding time and stick to it!
Even if it is just a few hours a week, it is better than nothing! For example, ride every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and one day on the weekend (weather permitting). If you work riding time into your everyday schedule, you will make a better effort to get out and do it!
Groom your horse during the winter months.
This is very important in the winter for your horse. If your horse is blanketed, this will force you to take the blanket
off your horse and check his body condition score. Before you ride, this will help the blood circulation and will wake up your horse’s muscles. You will also be able to free your horse’s hooves of packed snow and ice.
Warm up your horse before riding
. Because your horse’s physical activity greatly decreases during the winter months, you will need to give your horse plenty of warm up time. Horses’ muscles are more susceptible to injury when they are cold. Take your time and make sure your horse is completely warmed up before you begin the real work.
Take it easy
. Even though we are suggesting that you maintain a riding program throughout the winter, take it easy on yourself and your horse. If the weather conditions are dangerous outside, don’t ride that day. As you begin to work your horse, keep in mind that he/she is not in the best possible shape they could be in. That is ok. Your horse doesn’t need to work as well as he/she was in the summer. You won’t be able to either. Don’t push yourself or your horse too hard.
Cool your horse out thoroughly
. After you are finished riding, make sure that you COMPLETELY cool your horse out. A cooler will help you to cool your horse down without becoming susceptible to a chill. Certain body clips will preserve most of your horse’s coat but will also keep him/her cool during a workout. Keep in mind, if your horse is clipped in any way, you will want to blanket them. A winter riding routine is a great way to keep your horse active throughout the winter and can be very therapeutic for yourself! Good luck! For more tips on maintaining a winter riding program visit: http://www.equisearch.com/horses_care/health/winter/winter121203/