How to Keep Your Horse Fit in Winter
Keeping your horse fit through the winter can be challenging, especially when the weather doesn’t cooperate with your plans. But with the spring competition season just around the corner, giving your horse the entire winter off isn’t always a practical option. Even though you might not be able to follow your conditioning program perfectly, these tips can help you to keep your horse fit even during the harshest winter weather.
Use an Indoor Arena for Turnout
If you have access to an indoor arena, then you may be able to use it for multiple purposes. Not only can you school your horse under saddle, but you may be able to turn horses out in the indoor when the footing outside is hazardous. The footing may require some maintenance to keep it from freezing, but a usable indoor arena is a valuable asset in the winter.
Trailer Out to an Indoor
If you don’t have an indoor arena on-premises to use, consider trailering out to a neighboring barn with one. Many barns do rent out their indoor arenas during the winter, though you may need to schedule your rides during specific times. Still, getting your horse off the property and out to an unfamiliar arena is good preparation for shows and competitions.
Get Creative with Winter Rides
You may need to get creative with some of your winter rides, especially if you’re working in a crowded indoor, have limited space available or are working over footing that isn’t ideal. There are plenty of exercises you can incorporate to keep your horse progressing in his training. Try some dressage, work on transitions or practice increasing your horse’s sensitivity to your weight and leg cues. This approach will give you and your horse something to focus on so when you do return to your normal workouts in the spring, you’ll be well-prepared and able to progress quickly.
Don’t Underestimate Walking
You may not have the space to do a complete workout under saddle, but if you have access to a hot walker, you can keep your horse fit throughout the winter. Walking is a valuable addition to any workout, and long periods at the walk give your horse a low-impact workout that help keep him fit. Because hot walkers take up less space than a full outdoor arena, it’s more practical to keep the footing unfrozen and accessible during the winter.
Massage and Groom Regularly
Don’t skimp on your grooming sessions, particularly in the winter. Massaging or grooming your horse can help to maintain his muscle tone. The pressure that you put on your horse’s muscles during a massage or intense curry session promotes circulation in your horse’s body, which is a major benefit if your horse has been standing in his stall for long periods of time.
Wintertime workouts aren’t always regular, and increased time spent in a stall can be hard on your horse’s muscles. Un-Lock can help. Un-Lock speeds your horse’s recovery post-workout, and helps to prevent tying up for a healthier, more comfortable horse. Plus, it contains electrolytes that can encourage your horse to drink water in the winter, an important consideration in preventing impaction colic. Best of all, Un-Lock is affordable, easy to feed and won’t test in competitions.
Read more about Un-Lock and how it can complement your horse’s winter fitness program.
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Use these tips to help your horse arrive at shows or races happy, healthy and ready to compete.