How to Keep A Horse Fit In The Winter on Hard Footing

  • User AvatarDenny Emerson
  • 23 Jan, 2015
  • 1 Min Read

How to Keep A Horse Fit In The Winter on Hard Footing

Panel Expert: Denny Emerson

Submitted by member: Emme

I would like to know how to keep a hunter fit in cold temps in the winter to compete in Spring. We are in Northern Michigan and have an indoor ring, but it is cold and the footing gets hard. I ride in a quarter sheet and mainly walk with lateral work. The temp is usually around 10. Do you have any suggestions to keep us both interested? And what do you think of free jumping? Thank You!

Answer by Denny

First thing to be considered is how hard your footing really is. Is it frozen like a rock? Or can it be dragged and softened somehow? Because for years in Vermont, I just bundled up and trotted around in the indoor ring, and my horse got plenty fit.

Free jumping is OK, but if the footing is bad, it might not be such a good thing because the landings can be jarring.

I think the main thing is whether you can safely trot, even canter on the hard footing. If you can’t, you are sort of “stuck” walking, which is better than having him stand in his stall.


For ideas on exercises to do at the walk to teach your horse to understand and respond to your rein and leg aids better check out Bernie’s topic “Fundamentals of Flatwork: Basic.” Click here to view it.

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