Winter is a tough time for equestrians: it's dark, cold, the indoor is full and outdoors are wet and muddy or completely frozen. During winter the horses are more vulnerable and the risk of injury is higher. Here are tips to help you get through winter whilst keeping your horse happy, healthy and sound. The appropriate warm-up, the right care as well as what you feed all have an impact on your horse in winter. You will also find tips for keeping your horse motivated throughout the winter season.
- The appropriate warm-up
- Three rules for training in winter
- How much walk is necessary?
- Letting the horse free in the arena: pro & cons
- Groundwork training
- Tips for a diversified training
- Supporting the intestinal health of the horse
- Managing winter blankets
Why is the warm-up so important?To prevent injuries, the horse must be warmed up carefully. Tendon & ligament injuries are more common when the weather is cold. It's often due to too short warm-ups as well as the uncontrolled movement of the horse. (when it's cold, horses tend to be fresher and want to buck). The ground is also problematic, the paddocks & fields are often deep & muddy or even frozen. This leads to your horse slipping more easily or walking on the uneven ground can sometimes cause hoof problems.
Three things to keep in mind:
- Level your surfaces: If you don't want the ground to become hard and uneven during the really cold periods, it's better to level it before the frosts hit. The ground will freeze evenly and it's much safer for the horse legs.
- Take enough time for walking: In winter, horses need time to warm up, especially if they have been standing in the box for a long time. Putting the horse in the walker, on a treadmill or simply walking him in hand before riding or turning out will help prevent the risk of injury.
- Warm yourself up before riding: Your riding seat, as well as your overall suppleness and flexibility, will benefit greatly if you warm up before riding. You will be better able to follow the movements of your horse and ride more fluidly. Walking with your horse in hand for 10 to 15 minutes is a great option to get both of you ready for the training session! If you want to do even more, a small warm-up training session is ideal, take a look at Bettina Hoy's fitness training video. It only takes 15 minutes and all exercises can be done at the stables.