Spring is nowhere to be seen, so why not take advantage of the winter months? Follow the photo shoot I did with my mom to get some fun and constructive ideas for your furry pony!

#1 Get your exercise!

Is your New Years resolution to start exercising more? Your horse can help you with that! Something Storm and I do is go for walks. Even though you have to become coordinated with your equipment because of the many layers you may be wearing, walking through deep snow actually makes working with your horse a little more predictable, and (when you have a horse who likes to be fast) it really enables a slower pace, allowing time to think and observe your horse.

#2 Become explorers

If you want to try something a little more adventurous and challenging, take your horse snowshoeing or cross country skiing with you! I’ll admit, with my previous horse I would have tried this, but Storm and I aren’t quite ready. Before you attempt this, make absolutely sure that your personal space and loose rope leading are firmly in place. Maintaining personal space (respect) and loose rope leading (confidence) are essential in all seasons, but especially when you’re susceptible to tripping in the snow (which is exactly what could happen if you’re wearing snowshoes and your horse decides to walk too close!)

#3 Find your feet

The great part about snow is that you can see tracks. We haven’t talked about healthy longeing practices yet, but when we do, you’ll see what I mean. With snow, you can tell if your horse is walking a perfect circle and if you’re walking a perfect circle. There is no cheating when the snow is fresh and perfect. This can be something you can practice all winter long until you get it perfect. Then when spring comes, you’ll be surprised at how accurate you are.

#4 Make feeding time training time!

My mom has this really cool arrangement; she has convinced our herd of seven to line up within just a few feet of each other to receive their winter supplements. It takes time and a lot of confidence to train a whole herd to do this, but it’s totally achievable if you stay consistent and patient. It’s a great exercise to test your body language and energy.

#5 Study a little

What with the blizzards and the minus 30 degree weather, who wants to go outside? Find yourself a book, video, or blog, and take some time to hash through your knowledge. It never hurts to gain more understanding, and winter time is the best time to do it! In my post ‘Books and Blogs your Horse Would Recommend’ you’ll find a plethora of ideas that are both entertaining and educational.

#6 Get cozy!

What better time of the year to get your horse loving small spaces? Storm is already prone to liking tight places, but lots of horses have a deep rooted fear of small areas because of the possibility of being trapped. Use approach and retreat, and lots of good vibes to help your horse understand that tighter could actually mean sweeter! Take them into the tack barn; lead them through your shed …We like to play with the trailer in the winter time. It’s stocked with hay so that when the horse decides to peek in, there’s a happy surprise.

#7 Find your balance, bareback

You have to trust your horse to ride bareback, but in the winter you know there will be a soft landing if you fall. You’ll stay warmer, and you can skip the trouble of saddling up. Work on developing your centre of gravity and keeping your shoulders level. If you feel unstable push your hands down on your horses withers. This actually has a calming effect on horses, as well as a stabilizing effect on you.

#8 Pull things

Teaching your horse to pull things is a fun way to take advantage of the snow. Pulling barrels, toboggans, or sleds can even be useful in the long run. Whether you want to eventually rope or teach your horse to drive, pulling off of your horse can be a fun, no-pressure way to spend an afternoon. It’s also a great way to develop your tool expertise.

#9 Go visiting

As a little kid, I remember my family taking a bunch of Christmas baking to our neighbors. I would ride along on my pony, and this would add an extra surprise when they’d open the door. Yes, it was a long walk, and yes, we got slightly cold, but it was warm on the furry pony and the delight of our neighbors was worth the effort. Make it a goal to strengthen the community using your horse! It’s also a great way to take your herd walks to the next level.

#10 Family pictures

Winter time is a beautiful season to take pictures. Why not make your horse part of the family picture? You barely need any props when there’s snow sprinkled all around.
This post was edited February 2018

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