How do I warm up my horse in the cold winter months?
If you are lucky enough to have tolerable winter time temperatures, you are probably lucky enough to be able to ride! But cold weather can mean a stiff horse and the cold weather friskies, which can lead to injuries, for you and your horse. So, the warm up process can start long before you make it to the mounting block. Here are some tips for you!
- Make sure your horse is warm in his fur or a blanket before you begin!
- If you need to remove a blanket in order to groom him, use a heavy cooler in it’s place. You can peel back areas, groom, and cover up again. This is important if your horse is clipped. No one wants to get naked and then run outside where it's bitter cold.
- Speaking of grooming, take your time and really get the curry comb going. This warms you up and gets the circulation going to your horse’s muscles!
- Leave your saddle pad in a warm area before you put it on your horse if you can.
- Warm up your horse’s bit! I’m not sure if horse’s can get “brain freeze” like we can from ice cream, but why risk it? You can find tips for that here.
- Use a cooler or quarter sheet as your mounted warm up progresses. This keeps your horse’s major muscles covered, and it also covers your legs. (Bonus!)
Quarter sheets rock!
- Lengthen the amount of time you spend walking around before getting to work. You may want to hand walk for a bit or take a long trail ride as part of your warm up routine.
- Keep your cooler or quarter sheet handy as you hack around to cool down, also.
Thick wool coolers are the best!
Some other things to consider during the winter (and really anytime, but especially in the winter):
- Letting your horse buck it out on the lunge line is never a good idea. You end up with a horse that doesn’t listen, and has an increased chance of injuries due to a lack of proper warm up.
- Keep your winter exercise routine consistent. A little bit of every day is preferred to a lot of work inconsistently. For more on exercising during the winter, read this!
- Don’t forget to listen to your horse.
How do you warm up your horse in the winter?