Eight best winter workouts for your horse

What ever your level of eventing these work outs will get your horse fighting fit for the new season.

  • Swimming – swimming adds variety to a horse’s work and is less stressful on the joints since the horse is not weight bearing. Circular swimming pools are being surpassed with straight line pools that include a wave function to add resistance to the work, and, as the horse can get out at each end, they can put their head down for a breather between ‘laps’.

  • Water treadmills – water treadmills provide a great alternative to avoid the frosty ground and are not only getting more sophisticated (some now incorporate a computer analysis of your horse’s workout), but they are also becoming more mainstream.

  • Hill work – incorporating hills into your road work starts to develop strength and power. Studies have suggested that walking uphill is most beneficial; cantering uphill is considered ‘cheating’ as the horse can more easily pull itself along and trotting should be used with caution as it may add strain to the sacroiliac joint.

  • Leg yielding – incorporating leg yielding up and down hill can help build a horse’s core muscles, while teaching a horse to canter, trot or walk straight downhill helps them learn to ‘sit’ and lighten their forehand.

  • Lungeing – lunge work can benefit lots of horses. It helps the young horses reduce tension in their back without also dealing with the weight of a rider, and it helps the older horses to loosen up.

  • Beach riding – if you are within reach of a beach, most beach-riding bylaws are lifted between October and March, giving a great opportunity to get out on the sand. Walking through the shallow water makes the horses use their joints.

  • Gallops – not just good for physical fitness, giving your horse a blast on a gallop track is great for their mental fitness as well, giving them an opportunity to blow off some steam and teach them to move forward.

  • Interval training – alternating between cantering and walking for timed periods builds up stamina and endurance, while sprint training improves a horse’s anaerobic capacity.