Although the days are slowly getting longer, winter is far from over which may make riding a challenge. In this blog we will be giving you 5 great ways to exercise your horse when riding is not an option.
In hand walking
As simple as it seems, taking your horse for a walk in hand when you can’t take them for a ride is a great way to give both you and your horse exercise. Not only does your horse get some exercise. It is also a great way to get your step count up whilst bonding with your horse too! Remember your high vis (for you and your horse) and to follow all safety guidance if you are taking your horse out on the road.
Although loose schooling may provide an opportunity for your horse to blow off a little steam. It still involves an element of control! Although the horse is ‘free’ during loose schooling. They are directed around the arena in a controlled way using the handler's body language, voice commands, and lunging whip. It can be a great way of assessing the horse’s natural movement and can even include pole work or jumping. Loose schooling must always be done in an enclosed space. If you don’t have an indoor school, it’s essential to make sure the fence is high enough for the horse not to jump out.
When performed correctly, stretching exercises can help to support your horse's strength and flexibility. There are a variety of stretches to choose from. Some of which can be encouraged using a carrot or a treat from the SPILLERS range of treats. Make sure to research how to stretch your horse safely, or seek advice from a qualified physio or massage therapist. Always make sure you warm your horse up properly before you start and remember to stretch them equally on both sides.
If you are lucky enough to have a horse walker in your yard using it can be a useful form of exercise. Especially when turnout is limited. It can also be used to warm up or cool off your horse prior to riding. This then saves you time so you can crack on with your yard chores, whilst benefitting your horse’s exercise program.
Lunging is a great fitness option for exercising your horse without riding. It involves the horse moving around you in a circle on the end of a lunge line (sometimes two lines are used.) Lunging is a great schooling exercise if done correctly, helping to improve balance, rhythm, and voice commands. Handling the lunge line(s) and whip takes some practice, so have some lessons before trying it on your own for the first time. Always wear gloves and a fastened riding hat too as some horses can be more exuberant on the lunge!
Overall, there are many different ways to exercise a horse without riding. So the most suitable option will depend on your individual horse, circumstances, and equipment/ facilities. Get some advice from an instructor before trying any of these exercises for the first time. Also, try and find something both you and your horse will enjoy. This will make braving the cold winter weather less painful! Appropriate exercise has a number of health and welfare benefits to offer, but remember a balanced diet is just as important. If you are looking for top-quality feed to keep your horses in the best possible condition. Then look no further than SPILLERS range of fibre feeds or balancers.