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4 tips for riding in the snow

On sunny and cold winter days, many of us enjoy riding outdoors. Riding outdoors gives our horses new perspectives and offers a nice change from the daily routine. At the same time, it helps us to keep our horses fit.

Riding in the snow is fun, but quite strenuous for the horse. With the right planning, the ride becomes a pleasure and a well-utilised opportunity for a bit of cross-training.

1. the most important thing is to warm up thoroughly. During the cold months, blood flow to the hooves and legs is restricted. A good warm-up is therefore a must. The synovial fluid thickens and the joints are stiffer. The warm-up time is longer.

Tip - Warm your horse up for at least 15-20 minutes at a walk. Muscles, tendons and ligaments must be thoroughly warmed up in order to achieve their full function and minimise the risk of injury.

2. trot and canter work in the snow is wonderful for your horse. The resistance of the snow offers many advantages. The horse learns to lift its legs well and the body's own perception improves. The cardiovascular system and the entire body work intensively and are strengthened. However, be careful and don't overdo it! Overexertion can easily lead to injury.

Tip - It is best to alternate intensive phases with regular walking phases - as in interval training. These short breaks help to minimise heavy sweating.

3. please also bear in mind that sweating in the cold air can have serious consequences if not handled correctly. It can lead to muscle damage and cramps and, in the worst case, even to colic. Rapid cooling of the horse's body leads to a restriction of blood flow, which can result in cramps and stiff muscles.

Tip - To cool down properly, you should walk for at least as long as you have been working with the horse. This gives the muscles enough time to return to their normal core temperature. Damage and negative side effects can be prevented.

4. do a few stretching exercises. You can help the horse stretch its neck with a treat. Also stretch the front and back limbs and, most importantly, the back.

Tip - Active gymnastics and stretching exercises help to loosen muscles and joints. Make these exercises part of your training. Stretching exercises should only be done after work and never when muscles, tendons or ligaments are still cold.

Your horse has to work harder in the snow. If you keep the above points in mind, this is a great thing to do outside the show season. However, these points are also relevant if you are purely a leisure rider. Due to the positive effects on body and mind, I also recommend regular massages as part of your training, regardless of the season.

Adrienne Tomkinson

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