Exercising your horse in winter

It’s been a wild start to 2021 weather wise, with storms, ice and snow making life tough for horse owners. Throw in another lockdown and limited opportunities to compete or travel to use facilities elsewhere, and that means here are some very fresh horses to contend with. So how can you make sure your horse gets enough exercise this winter and that, when spring finally arrives, they have a base level of fitness to work from? Here are our top tips:

Even a hack at walk is better than no hack

Horses were designed to be on the move all day long, taking steps every mouthful or so as they grazed. It’s not ideal, but if you’re confined to roadwork for the time being, walk work is still valuable. Or perhaps your usual hacking routes around farmland are muddy and walking is the only option to get through. Adding the EquiAmi for a short walk-only hack (there’s a combi version of the EquiAmi which you can use for lunging and riding, or specific aids for saddle and lunge work) will ensure they’re working hard and developing their topline at the same time.

Maximise the time you have with the EquiAmi lunge aid

The wet, cold and darkness of winter can put a real squeeze on how much time you can (or want to) spend at the yard. In less than one month of 2021, most of the UK has had everything from freezing fog and heavy snow to high winds and torrential rain, and that makes it tough to get enough work into your horses! The EquiAmi is an invaluable tool for ensuring that even a 20-minute lunging session will challenge your horse and have them working in or towards an effective outline.

Make the best use of the facilities available

If you have access to a horse walker and can pop your horse on there for 10 minutes on each rein while you muck out and prep their feeds, that means you can spend more of the time in the saddle working towards your goals, cutting town warm up time. Or use the horse walker after your ride to cool them off while you crack on with stable chores. Remember that the colder it is, the longer you need to spend warming up before asking the horse to undertake athletic movements such as jumping!

Introduce variety in the school

If the school forms the basis of most of your winter work, then be sure to vary the routines for both yours and your horse’s sake. You could sit down with a notepad and a coffee on a Sunday morning and plan out everything for the week ahead, meaning you don’t have to use your imagination in the middle of a busy working week. From groundwork to gridwork and lunging (with the EquiAmi, naturally!) to long reining, there’s plenty to work on in the school without getting bored. Long reining is excellent for helping to shift any extra lockdown pounds you may have lurking as well…!

Working on the basics during lockdown

Given that at the moment we don’t know when lockdown restrictions will be lifted or when equestrian competitions will start up, it could be a good time to work on the basics again. Did you know that one of the benefits of using the EquiAmi lunge aid is that it ‘pumps’ the top line muscles, increasing the blood flow to that crucial area without the weight of a rider on board? They learn to work in an outline with power, lightness and swing and develop the muscles for effective self-carriage. That will give you a brilliant canvas to work on once we know what our goals will be for the late spring and summer.

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