Short days and cold, wet weather don’t have to put a stop to having fun with your horse this winter. Get inspired with our guide to winter fun with your horse. Whether you’re short on time, without an arena, or not feeling motivated, these ideas will get you through to sunnier spring days.
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With limited daylight and facilities, it can be difficult to get as much riding or driving in. Groundwork is a great way to bond with your horse, improve their manners and as foundation for training. You also don’t need lots of space or perfect ground to have a go at some basic groundwork exercises.
A simple exercise to try is leading your horse. Sounds simple, right? We do it every day. The aim here is to have your horse’s shoulder level with you as you walk around. As you speed up or slow down, they should too. Once you’ve mastered this, add in some turning and backing up too.
Other fun things to try include working with obstacles or spooky objects. If you horse is now listening and walking confidently next to you, it will be easier to introduce these. Plus, next time you encounter these when riding or driving, your horse will already be familiar with them and less likely to spook.
Have a Go at Something New
Mix things up this winter and give a different discipline a go. There are often ‘have a go’ clinics for riding sidesaddle, horseball or even western riding. You might be able to take your own horse to these, or use a school horse. These are often advertised by local riding clubs or equestrian centres so start by having a look there to see what’s available.
Polo is another fun activity to try. Beginner lessons or courses often take people with little to no riding experience so this could be a good chance to introduce some friends or family to horses too. These typically take place in an arena over the winter so you can master the skills before playing on grass.
Who knows, maybe you’ll find a passion or talent for something new!
Get Back to Basics
Our brand ambassador Anna Grayston, a carriage driver and coach, is taking the opportunity to have regular lessons with her pony, Sid - when she can pinch him back from her niece! Here’s what Anna suggests doing over the winter so you have an even better driving season next year:
“While coaching drivers continues at a pace it's good to remember that winter training is a great opportunity to look at your basics. I listened to a rugby podcast the other day that talked about the need for 'world class basics' above which every sports performance is built. I know plenty of people, my niece included, are enjoying competing at indoor driving events and they offer people a fantastic starting point for our sport as well as the chance to practise elements that perhaps we didn't quite get right in the summer.
So, now's your chance to spend more time doing walk exercises, practising that square halt and nailing that consistent working trot rhythm. All things that can be done driving out down the roads, I frequently need to get out of my small arena as does my pony! You'll come out of the winter with a much more educated horse, you'll have developed your driving skills and be ready for the 2022 season.”
Image courtesy of Paul Orchard Photography
The ultimate fun activity in winter is sledging. What could make this even better? Sledging with your horse of course!
Here is one of our customers from the Netherlands, Kim, with her pony, Bailey.
Donkeys can join in too! Here is Morven and her donkey enjoying some sledging.
Sledging normally requires snow which we are not always known for getting lots of in the UK. However, brand ambassador Emma Massingale proves that’s not always needed for bog sledging adventures! You can check out her video and the kit you’ll need to do it yourself in our blog: Adventures in Harness.
Will you be trying out any of these ideas? We would love to see how you have fun with your horses this winter! Be sure to tag us on social media @harnessstuff, use #harnessstuff, or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.