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SmartPak Monday Morning Feed: 4 Ways to Make Winter Riding More Fun

Just in time for your New Year’s resolution to ride more!

From SmartPaker Lexi, originally published February 17, 2016:

This past weekend marked two sad events: the coldest temperatures we’ve experienced all winter and the departure of some of my fellow boarders’ horses for Florida. There’s nothing sadder than telling your barn mates, “Bye, have fun in Florida!” when you’re stuck at home in single digit temperatures.

Heading south for the winter this year wasn’t in the cards for me and my horse, so we’re staying home with a few other boarders to work hard and prepare for the spring show season. We’re lucky enough to have an indoor to ride in, but riding in the indoor day after day can quickly turn into day after day of riding in circles on the rail, which quickly becomes boring and de-motivating. After spending many winters at home, I’ve come up with four ways to make winter riding more fun so we can make it through the final stretch before spring.

Use the buddy system

Find a barn buddy who usually goes to the barn at the same time as you and keep each other motivated. Riding on a cold, dark night is a lot more fun when you have company, and you can encourage each other to make it out to the barn each night because you know they’re counting on you to ride with them. Plus, if you’re worried that your horse is going to be wild, it’s nice to know that there’s someone at the barn with you should something happen.

Spice up your flatwork

Day after day in the indoor can turn into day after day of riding in circles. Set up some ground pole exercises to spice up your flatwork days – they’re fun and helpful for you and your horse. Ground pole exercises are my favorite way to make flatwork more fun (and my trainer’s favorite way to torture us). Here are some of my favorite pole exercises:

One exercise we do often is canter bounce poles. Sasha tends to have too long of a canter stride, so these are great for forcing her to condense her stride. They work the opposite way, too – if you want to work on your horse lengthening his stride, setting up bounce poles are a great way to encourage him to do it.

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