Biting winds, driving rain and muddy fields can make January a miserable month for horse owners. If the wet weather and dark evenings mean that your riding plans are put on hold, don’t panic, there are plenty of other ways to spend time with your horse this season. Pull on your thermals and check out our top tips to help make this winter wonderful for you and your equine.
- Stable Mates
Horses spend an increasing amount of time in the stable during the winter thanks to the wet weather and early evenings and this can be an incredibly boring period for them. During the week try to carve out solid blocks of time where you can spend 30 minutes or so with your horse in the stable. Horses are sociable creatures who enjoy being close to each other, so use this time to get in close proximity to him, strengthening your bond and relationship by talking in a soft voice while gently stroking him. Spending extended periods of time in your stable will also enable you to spot any draughts or leaks and identify necessary stable improvements that you might ordinarily miss.
- Get Grooming
Mild wet winters mean mud, and even a New Zealand rug complete with hood isn’t going to protect your horse from being covered in the most unlikely places. Grooming is the first port of call to remove dirt, but there are many other benefits to this activity too. Horses have a much thicker coat during the winter and grooming will remove any dead hair and promote a healthy coat by stimulating natural oil production. Do be aware of over grooming, however, as this can remove the vital oils therefore undoing all your hard work. Regular grooming allows you to examine your horse for any lumps, bumps, cuts or heat in the legs, allowing you to get treatment much faster and using a rubber curry comb increases the circulation to reduce swellings and promote healing.
- Super Strapping
This activity is an intense massage therapy designed to help improve muscle tone, improve circulation and build muscle in your horse. Strapping involves rhythmic blows to the muscular areas of the neck, shoulder and quarters, alternating between firm blows with a strapping pad and a softer stroke with a hand. This process causes muscles to contract and strengthen, and is particularly useful in elderly or rehabilitating horses who need to build tone, or to help prevent loss of tone due to reduced exercise. Ensure that you research this activity well and start slow, building up the length and intensity of each session over time. Before you know it, you will both benefit from increased fitness and muscle tone ready for the Spring.