Skip to content

Winter Fitness Ideas For Your Horse

Plummeting temperatures, short days, dark mornings, frost, rain and snow… the winter months are a real challenge for horse owners, especially if you work full time and don’t have the luxury of indoor facilities. Finding ways to keep motivated and maintain your horse's fitness is difficult, but it is possible.

1) Make the most of your weekends and free time:

Save hacking for the weekends when you have time to wait for any ice or frozen ground to thaw. Avoid any roads or lanes which are prone to black ice or you know stay icy for a long time, any sheltered areas for example. Remember to wear hi-vis to keep you and your horse visible, and to pop an exercise sheet on if your horse is clipped or feels the cold.

Could you hire any facilities? Hiring an indoor school to give you a break from the weather or a roomy outdoor with a good surface for schooling or jumping can be a real boost when the weeks are a struggle.

Aim for weekend competitions or training to keep you motivated and for something to look forward to. Even small events will keep your horse in the swing of things and helps to keep you positive and your goals for the season ahead in check.

2) Schooling in walk:

Depending on your facilities, schooling in anything more than a walk can be impossible for part of the year. Even if your outdoor school surface isn’t ideal, or you only school in a field, doing exercises in walk will still benefit your horse’s fitness. Use this time to reaffirm your basic training, working on circles, bending, straightness, transitions and your own position without any pressure.

3) Walking in-hand:

This is a good option for young horses or unpredictable/hot horses, or for snowy conditions when you can’t ride. It may seem pointless or a necessary inconvenience, but simply walking is beneficial to your horse’s fitness. Include stretches, turns and backing up to work more of the horse’s muscles. Walking up and down hills, using steps or walking over poles can also be beneficial, provided it’s safe to do so.

4) Lunging and long reining:

Lunging and long reining are safe ways to exercise your horse, as well as giving a chance to go back to basics with any training niggles your horse might have. There any many exercises you can add in to your sessions to keep it interesting for both you and the horse. We would only recommend lunging and long reining your horse if they already know how to do it properly – if your horse has only been lunged to blow off steam this will be dangerous if your school is excessively wet or has any icy patches.

5) Carrot stretches:

Carrot stretches can help to enhance your horse’s range of motion, build core strength and improve flexibility. These stretches will benefit your horse all year round but are especially useful when your horse is stabled for long periods or when exercise is limited. Be careful not to over-stretch your horse – there are a lot of useful videos to show how to do carrot stretches correctly on Youtube.

Remember to be kind to yourself this winter and give yourself a break. Avoid exercising your horse in conditions that could be dangerous, for example if your horse is quite spooky in the wind or surfaces are icy. If exercising your horse isn’t possible, there are other ways to keep your horse occupied, to break up their day and prevent boredom: try stable toys, grooming and massage.


Your cart is currently empty.

Start Shopping

Select options