Hurrah for this list, right?!? I thought I’d re-post, seeing as it’s March and spring really is nowhere to be seen! 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 me and Storm do is go for walks. Even though you have to be more coordinated with your ropes and sticks in the winter because of all the bulky winter-wear, walking through the 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. Refer to my article about herd bound horses to begin safe and natural leading practices.

#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. Two things that have to be equally and absolutely in place before I would trust him is personal space and loose rope leading. The joys of getting both personal space (respect) and loose rope leading (confidence) are that you never have to worry about your horse getting in the way, which is exactly what could happen if you’re wearing snowshoes and your horse decides to walk too close. Leaders in make sure this is in order before taking their herd anywhere. It’s a nice thing to work on while trying out idea #1.

#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 with the trail shows us ovals. This can be something you can practice all winter long until you get it perfect. You can always look down and see if your tracks are correct. Then when spring comes, you’ll be surprised at how accurate you are. Why are getting perfect circles important? Well for one, our horses will mirror the direction our energy is going, so if we push them out too far or draw them in too near while longeing, it could create an unbalanced horse who will turn out lopsided as a result.

#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 flax and mineral ration. It takes time and a lot of patience and confidence, but it’s actually not hard once you have a clear goal in mind. Regulating and directing your energy appropriately and specifically is really important so that you don’t scare away the fearful horses, but can keep the dominant ones at bay. This winter challenge is an ideal way to develop a safe and calm herd.

#5 Study a little

What with the blizzards and getting snowed in and the 30 below on the forecast, who has time to sit inside? Well if you ever find yourself bored, find yourself a book, video, (or this 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! When the pressure is off, that’s when you can learn. 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 close to warm up!

What better time of the year to get your horse loving smaller spaces? Storm is already prone to liking tight places, but lots of horses have a deep rooted fear of small areas where they can be 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 something to benefit him. It’s amazing how horses start feeling comfortable once they feel provided for.

#7 Find your balance bareback

You have to trust your horse to ride bareback, but in the winter you know that there will be a soft landing if you fall. You’ll stay warmer and there’s less trouble because you don’t have to put a saddle on! Work on developing your centre of gravity and keeping your shoulders level. Think about your feet as if there are weights on them, and your butt like its full of lead. Then relax and drop your shoulders. If you feel unstable push your hands down on your horses withers. This actually has a calming affect on horses as well as stabilizes you.

#8 Pull things

Teaching your horse to pull things is a fun way to take advantage of the snow. Pulling barrels, toboggans, sleds, and the like can even be useful. 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 Make it a community affair!

One thing I remember doing as a little kid, was my family would bake a bunch of Christmas fare and we would deliver it 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.
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