Winter IS coming, the weather is rapidly cooling and the days shorter, colder and the rains and snow are setting in. Are you thinking of tapering your riding down to prepare for the winter? How do you handle the rapidly changing weather with minimal fuss? Are you lucky enough to have an indoor arena? If not, what are your exercise options for winter?
What is important to know is regardless of your situation, the change in season brings some challenges. There is the whole ‘to rug or not to rug’ debate, with many opinions based on research, experience and individual circumstances is just one.
Tip 1 - Individual stabling circumstances, workload, age, breed and climate are the main considerations for your decision. All horses will adjust to changing temperatures. However, the practicality of what suits you and your horse best is the ultimate factor. For example, a stabled horse that is kept in work during winter may benefit from clipping and rugging. Whereas your Open-Stall type horse most likely will fair better as natural as possible.
Start thinking about what type of work you can do with your horse over the coming months. Horses are often friskier in the colder months. This has more to do with the fact they often have less exercise in the freezing temperatures than the temperature.
Tip 2 - Perhaps now is the time to think about learning a new skill? Horses minds need as much stimulation as their bodies require movement. Learn how to Massage and perform Aktivgymnasktiks (as per ImPuls Methode™). Both stimulate blood flow and can replace a ridden workout! Aktivgymnasktiks also increases strength and flexibility (its like yoga for horses!), and your horse won't sweat!
Warming up and Cooling down…. I know I almost always stress how important this is - but with good reason. It is IMPERATIVE! Inadequate warm up and cool down will result in muscle damage and increased risk of injuries to tendons and ligaments.
Tip 3 - Fortunately most of you will be in the off season or have a lightened workload during the winter months. So make sure you take at least ten minutes to warm up and the same amount of time to cool down. If you are just working to maintain fitness then 15 minutes light exercise will suffice.
Thinking about the next 2-6 months its a good time to look into other ways of maintaining a balance of fitness and relaxing recovery. Break up your routine; Aktivgymnasktiks, trail rides, and massage work in perfect harmony!
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