For most people, winter is an exciting season. It’s boots, scarves, and coat weather. It’s cozying up next to a warm fireplace and reading a good book with a beautiful glass of wine. Equestrians, however, spend their winters in one of two ways: muddy and cold or staring longingly out the window waiting for the riding weather to return. Every equestrian has had the winter riding blues but not this year!
There are many great ways to stay connected to your horse and riding throughout the cold winter months. Try some of these activities and you will find that spring will be here before you know it.
- Get grooming! Short days and bad weather shouldn’t keep you from your horse. Spend time bonding together over a really good grooming session. Pull out all the stops using a variety of brushes, curries, mane and tail conditioners, and elbow grease. It’s healthy for your horse and can be accomplished in a dry, well-lit area. Don’t forget the cookies too!
- Tackle your tack! Can’t make it out to the barn? Take the time to give your tack a deep clean. It’s easy to do at home or at the barn. Use leather oil, cleaners, and conditioners to protect your equipment and keep it looking gorgeous. Check out Leather Care Made Simple for some tips!
- Buy (or borrow) a book! Rainy and snowy days mean lots of opportunities to grab your favorite fiction or nonfiction horse book. Read a training book and then journal how and what you are going to practice with your horse when the weather turns nice. By the time spring rolls around, you will have a plan to jump back into riding.
- Focus on fitness! This is the season for stocking up on holidays goodies. Not being in the saddle and active around the barn means we might lose some of our flexibility and fitness before spring. So whether you hit the gym or spread out a yoga mat at home, make time to maintain your fitness so you will be ready to tackle your horses’ spring antics! Here are some great ideas to get you started: Fitness.
- Tricks, Training, and Treats! Who says you have to stop training just because you aren’t riding. Winter is a great opportunity to work on all those little training tidbits like clipper and spray bottle desensitization, backing up, lowering the head, and yielding to the bit. If your horse is already the perfect gentleman (or lady), then try teaching them tricks like counting by pawing, shaking their head yes/no, or bowing. It’s a great boredom breaker. And, remember the cookies to reward success!
Winter is no longer a monotonous wait until spring. It’s a great time to catch up on the little things, plan your training routine, and learn something new. So, here’s to muddy boots, warm riding gloves, and a happy, healthy winter season!