Getting through the winter - without an indoor arena

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Getting through the winter - without an indoor arena

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  • Training horse without arena
  • How to keep your horse working in winter without an indoor arena

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    10-16-2013, 03:50 PM
Getting through the winter - without an indoor arena

Hi everyone,
I got offered an interesting job, so I'll move to a new city. I found an almost perfect stable, but unfortunately there's no indoor arena. My job is fulltime and doesn't have flexible working hours. So sometimes I won't even have daylight, when I see my horse (the outdoor arena has light, though). The real problem starts when the ground freezes, because I don't trot or canter on that kind of footing. I will most likely have the possibility to drive with someone to an indoor arena every once in a while, but not on a daily basis. Are some of you in a similar situation and how do you keep your horses busy and fit during these months?
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    10-16-2013, 04:07 PM
Green Broke
I get out riding in the snow when I can, do lots of walking around bareback and ground work. When I can get a ride to an arena I will. Other wise you just brush and spend time with them, and wait for the days to get longer.
    10-16-2013, 04:11 PM
Green Broke
I live in North Dakota and I've never had an indoor arena. You learn how to bundle up and keep warm.

Usually, I reserve the winter to letting my horses have some time off because they get worked pretty hard during the year. Usually that from when Daylight Savings time kicks in (I work a full time day job) until it kicks out or at least stays light after 5 PM.

However, on of my horses has developed a stifle issue so he needs to be kept legged up and in shape. So for after-work "in the dark" riding I'm going to try to do once or twice a week, and then ride on the weekend in the light. I have a headlamp I use when I ride in the dark and I also have a reflective vest for me, and a reflective breastcollar and bridle strips for him. We'll ride in our usual spots until it gets too icy. Then we'll just stick to gravel roads when the ditches are filled with snow that is too deep.

If you need/want to ride your horse, you will find a way to make it work without an indoor.

Otherwise, you'll just find an excuse.
boots and Boo Walker like this.
    10-17-2013, 10:08 PM
I have a yardlight for my outdoor arena, however I have never used it to ride at night in the winter, too cold!!! But I do ride in the winter and in the snow, you make due with what you got.
    10-17-2013, 10:17 PM
We have trails nearby, that by being shaded by the trees, are often NOT frozen when the rest of the ground is frozen. We ride only on the trails, or use the outdoor arena when not frozen. Our climate is maybe somewhat like yours. We only really have two month that are really cold, and even then, it's not like those folks here in the Midwest, where it's REALLY cold!
We dont' ride in the snow much here because we don't have special shoes on the hroses, and it ball up into ice in their shoes.
    10-17-2013, 10:33 PM
You could try getting snow pads on your horse if it has shoes or getting hoof boots with studs.
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    10-18-2013, 11:56 AM
Riding in the snow is SO much fun! You just have to watch for ice and damp snow- dry snow is alright but damp snow will clog up in your horses' feet and turn into ice balls =/

I really don't notice the difference that much- I still do everything I do in the summer, but with more clothes on ;) I've lived in Michigan all my life, though. Maybe I'm just used to it.
    10-18-2013, 12:22 PM
Originally Posted by DancingArabian    
You could try getting snow pads on your horse if it has shoes or getting hoof boots with studs.
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Snow pads worked well on my shod horses when I lived in Michigan, before I had access to an indoor arena. Lubing up the soles of the feet with oil (Pam cooking spray is easy to use, if it's not too cold to spray!) helps prevent snow from balling up in shod hooves, but avoid getting it on the shoe surface. I pulled shoes from any horse that didn't absolutely need them.

Lots of walking will at least keep your horse moving. He will probably lose some fitness, but IME it's not that hard to get back to where you were since you're not completely putting them out to pasture. Chances are there will be some less extreme weather days mixed in, so you may be able to add some trotting or light cantering in periodically. Master turns on the forehand or haunches. Work on your two-track and side-pass. Practice turning, stopping, backing, lowering head, adjusting speed/impulsion with leg and weight cues instead of reins. Get the perfect bend on a perfectly round circle in both directions. Periodically take a brief bareback ride just to get the muscles moving without losing daylight by tacking up.

Shady trails are good for less snow, but that could be dangerously dark after work. I'd stick to the arena (even riding around the outside of the fence line if the inside gets slushy or muddy) or any area you have enough light to feel safe. Wander around the property using your legs/weight to turn around anything you come to - a car, a tree, a wheelbarrow, a bucket, etc.

Allow your horse to adequately warm up to breathing in increased cold air volume from a good workout, and let him cool down completely in a draft free area before putting him back outside. Layer your clothing, layer your socks, regularly re-waterproof your boots, and always keep your ears & neck covered! Stock up on Walmart's 2/$1 knit gloves (or pay the $3 for pebble grip horsey ones) to layer under your good winter riding gloves. Have fun and good luck with the new job!
    10-18-2013, 12:41 PM
Wow you're two steps ahead of me! Lol I don't have any access to an indoor arena, any lights (aside from the flashlights I've ductaped to my saddle horn ), and I usually still ride in the dark, cold winter. (I'm in Indiana, home of weird weather haha). My horses usually get down time then and when I ride my mare I ride her bareback in a halter (all gaits if the weather allows) and my gelding I just work in the snow. Bundle up, keep warm, be sure to check their feet for ice clumps and be sure to leave their winter woollies on them when you brush them.

When I was working on his canter believe it or not I picked nice fluffy snow days (where there was no ice), and cantered him. They called me crazy but hey, he got his balance, learned to slow down and think and never took a step wrong. Some of the best work I've had from him has been in the snow. You'll find a way or you'll decide not to ride then. :)
    10-18-2013, 02:29 PM
Chicks sells a nylon breastplate with led lights on it for around $30. I modified mine and stuck a headlamp in the middle. Works great! People can see me from way far away.
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