5 Tips for Keeping your Horse Fit in Cold Weather
Exercising Horses in Winter
Exercising horses and keeping them fit and active in the colder months can be a challenge that presents risks to you and your horse. Despite this, it is important to keep your horse in shape. Exercise will keep your horse from getting bored, keep their muscles, ligaments, and tendons healthy, ward off arthritis, and keep them in good condition during gloomy winter months. Check out our tips that will help keep you and your horse active until warmer weather finally arrives!
Make sure to warm up and cool down your horse well
During cold weather, your horse will take longer to warm up their muscles and stiff joints may require more time to loosen. It is important to take this into account to lessen the risk of an injury, so you should allow for more time to warm up. It is a good aim to try and double your usual warm up time. Your horse will need longer to cool down as well, especially if unclipped. You should make sure that your horse has stopped sweating and is completely dry after exercising to reduce the chance of them getting sick. If you have access to a solarium this can assist with ensuring your horse is warm and dry after activity.
Exercise your horse daily when possible
When possible, you should keep up daily training for your horse. Regardless of how cold the weather is it is important for their health to keep a horse active. Low intensity walking or training every day will be better for your horse than more intense activity less often or only in more pleasant weather. For some exercise ideas, Horse and Rider have an article that suggests several training activities designed to keep your horse active and supple during the winter. Whilst these exercises may not be suitable for every horse these ideas can be adapted and will bring some interest and variation to your routine.
Tailor your workout to your horse’s ability
If your horse is old or out of shape then make sure not to push them too hard. Making sure not to exercise your horse beyond their fitness level will reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injury in cold weather. You might want to simply walk an unfit horse in cold and frosty weather.
Consider using a horse walker for warming up and exercising horses
During these cold and gloomy winter months access to a horse walker can be especially beneficial. It can help warming up and exercising your horses in a safe controlled area. A horse walker also allows you to exercise multiple horses at a time, which is a benefit when the days are short and daylight is precious. Many walkers can even be computer-controlled (read more about training with Horse Exercisers from Molenkoning), allowing for training sessions to be individually tailored to the needs of each horse. Snow and ice can make footing unstable for horses, and they can bruise their feet during high-intensity workouts on frozen ground. With a horse walker, you can be assured that the ground is level and easily control how hard your horse works. You can read more about the benefits of horse walkers on our blog.
Ensure you and your horse are healthy
If you or your horse are unwell then neither of you should push yourselves too far, as this increases the risk presented by cold weather further. Keeping warm, well-fed, and hydrated is important for humans and horses alike to ensure they stay healthy and fit throughout the winter. For tips on keeping your horse cared for in winter, check out our blog.