|Mercury says palying in the snow is fun!
Look how happy he is!
At this time of year sometimes it’s hard to be inspired. It’s cold, the ground isn’t always safe and we can’t always think of things to do with all those limitations.
Well as a very creative person and someone who has not always had the perfect places to play with my horses, I have lots of ideas on what can be done to amuse, connect, and even practice some good foundation exercises which will improve things when the weather is better and you can do more.
First of all, when it’s cold out, active Liberty play is a GREAT way to build connection and bond AND stay warm. It can be done virtually anywhere. If the footing is better for slow work, do that. If the footing is good for more up energy work, do that. Snow is actually quite good to work in if there is no ice layer underneath. Here is a list of exercises that can be done to keep you and your horse going!
1. Liberty Grooming: Get the rubber curry and go out in the paddock and get all the good spots. Not for cleaning purposes but for getting spots he can’t reach and where another horse would groom him. If he tries to groom you back, It is up to you to how to handle this. You can gently make a boundary or allow it on your boots or chaps which is safer.
2. Leading (Herding) from Behind to Companion walking working on precise transitions and staying up at your shoulder on the Off and near sides. Off (right side) is harder and winter is a good time to practice for short periods if your horse is ready to allow that.
3. If your Companion exercises are good than try some beginner Liberty dressage movements. You could introduce Turn on the Forehand at Liberty, Side Step, and Turn on the Haunches. Also precise size and shape circles. If the footing is good try some at the trot. Spanish walk is another fun one.
4. Send and Draw at slow speeds or if the footing is good at the trot and canter.
5. Horse Yoga stretches with treats.
6. In hand work with a Halter and line or Liberty Rein. Play with Leg Yields, Turn on the Forehand, Turn on the Haunches, Side Steps, Shoulder in, and Backing up with the lightest possible Communication. This is a good time to also play with Touch Training to work on Soft communication.
7. Eye contact exercises: LOVE these they are soooo important to advanced Liberty and Focus! Excellent for spooky and distracted horses and can be done stationary or moving as you both get better at maintaining it.
So I hope these give you some ideas to play with and inspire you. It has actually been a pretty mild winter here in New England so it’s been easy to work outside without too much trouble. It was 55 degrees the other day! Hope it stays that way. Have fun!