I really have nothing to complain about the winter, given that I live in Southern California and it really does not get that cold, but when it rains, our arenas flood and we can’t ride! So I thought I’d make this video of winter riding tips for things you can do when you can’t ride in the arena!
The first thing to do is asses the situation:
- Your Horse
A big drop in temperature tends to make horses a little crazy. Asses how your horse is feeling. If they are snorting, with their head and tail in the air, and running around you wont want to just get straight on. Groundwork is a good place to start on a day like this.
- Your terrain
It’s really important to know how your terrain is behaving in inclement weather. Is your barn becoming a mudslide, or an ice rink? If your terrain is slippery, you need to be extremely careful with turning your horse as that’s when they are most likely to fall down. If your footing isn’t great you’re limited to things in straight lines predominantly. You can work on leading, stopping or backing up, but be careful of lunging or doing a lot of turning!
- Make a plan
Flexibility is key when making plans in the winter and you’ve got to be ready to change your plans based on the weather. You also need to be ready to change you plans according to your horse. Groundwork is something I always do before I get on- especially on a cold wintery day. Some days, if my horse isn’t feeling right, then I may ONLY do groundwork – that that is OK! Something is better than nothing. Groundwork is a great way to work on getting your horse relaxed and focused wether or not you ride!
- Bend and Disengage the Hind End
This is a great exercise to get control of your horse mentally and physically. Ask you horse to move around you in a circle and have their inside hind cross over the outside hind. This is a great for safety because if they get excited they will know to just turn the quarters away from you and stop. Plus it works on getting your horse more supple and bendable!
This work is also great to do when you can’t ride with the weather. Slapping the saddle, throwing the lead over their back or working with a flag are all good desensitizing exercises.
This is another great and efficient way to work your horse on a bad day. Make sure that your horse is paying attention to you by practicing some halt transitions. When you stop, your horse must immediately stop!
- Backing up
Finally, backing up is a great exercise to practice on the ground. The rein back helps your horse engage their hind end and work their topline (plus it shows up in many of the dressage tests). It’s also a fantastic test and practice of submission.
Take a look at this video where I demonstrate all this with Kensington and let me know in the comments if you find it helpful! Also, if you do like it, please share it as it really helps me!
Don’t forget to come to my groundwork webinar where I’ll be sharing all my groundwork secrets and showing you how to build a better connection with your horse!
Thanks for watching!