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Tips for training in the cold

Now it's cold... What does that mean for training with your horse? As long as you stick to a few basic rules, you don't have to change much.

Firstly, due to the cold, your horse's limbs will be very cold, even if they are covered. The blood stays close to the core of the body to maintain the temperature. Legs are always less well supplied with blood than other parts of the body, and this means that your horse will take much longer to warm up its limbs than in warmer temperatures. The synovial fluid also thickens due to the cold, which is why your animal will probably seem stiffer at first. However, mobility will improve with warming up and exercise.

If your horse is clipped, it will need a turnout rug for training or riding out. Most horses benefit from a bit of fresh air at the start of training. To warm up, I recommend a good seven minutes at a forward walk followed by a good seven minutes trotting. Then you can start your normal training.

Make sure you cool down at the end of the workout! You should therefore finish by walking for at least ten minutes. This gives your muscles enough time to cool down again. During the active cool down, the blood continues to circulate and removes the toxins that the muscles produce during training. A horse that has sweated profusely needs a little longer to cool down. A sweat rug is recommended after training. The muscles of a horse that returns to the stable sweaty or not cooled down can stiffen dramatically.

Also remember to wrap up warm and warm up yourself. Your body reacts very similarly to the cold as your horse's and also needs a suitable cool down after training.

Have fun riding!

Adrienne Tomkinson

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