Don’t freeze out your horse

During this winter do not neglect your horse’s precious turn out time and continue on with the skills and achievements you have made over the summer.

Just because the horse show season is winding to a close doesn’t mean it’s time to “freeze” your horse activity. In fact, with all you have gained this past season, wouldn’t be great to keep that advantage for next year?

Don’t let the chill of winter stop you and your horse’s emotional and physical growth, be proactive this year.

When the thermometer plummets there are little exercises and things you can do with and for your horse. You can finally find the time to look at that training video you’ve been meaning to watch, read that dressage book or clean up your tack. Little things add up quickly in winter for you and your horse.

A recent study proves what equestrians have already known, that daily exercise makes horses easier to handle.” No matter the type of exercise provided, it was found that daily exercise was effective in reducing unwanted behavior from horses stalled indoors. The study was entitled “Effects of different forms of exercise on post inhibitory rebound and unwanted behavior in stabled horses,” by the Equine Veterinary Journal.

In this study horses of various breeds received one hour of daily exercise, using one of the following four methods: hot walker, treadmill, free turnout or being ridden. The control group was not exercised.

Every few days each horse’s behavior was evaluated, while being handled doing “weigh ins” and loading horses in and out of a trailer.

Each horse, in addition to the prescribed exercise, or control group, was given 15 minutes of “alone free time” in a turnout and their behavior was noted.

The researchers observed that horses given daily exercise, no matter the type of exercise, when turned out for the additional 15 minutes of “alone free time,” did less pacing and those who had “free turnout” as their form of exercise seldom bucked or rolled. This was in stark comparison to horses without any daily exercise who let out six or seven bucks and also rolled once or twice during their 15 minutes of liberty.

During this winter do not neglect your horse’s precious turn out time and continue on with the skills and achievements you have made over the summer. Even a few minutes a day preparing for next year’s riding season will make a difference.

Horseback riding is a perishable skill, you must do it often to maintain your level of excellence. This goes not only for you, but for your horse as well. Enjoy the winter, keep up the good work and Happy Trails!

LORI RICIGLIANO is a horse judge, trainer, riding instructor, equine photographer and clinician. She also hosts a weekly syndicated equine radio talk show “Hoof Beats with Lori”. Lori has held her horse judges license as a USEF / AHA — “R” rated licensed horse judge for more than 25 years and currently operates Ricigliano Farms Horse Training and Riding Academy near Kent, Minn. She can be reached by email or phone for any questions at 218- 557-8762 or riciglianofarms@gmail. com. Her website is www. RiciglianoFarms.com

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