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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar. 3, 2012
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    235

    Default What can I do with 2 horses over the winter?

    So here's the scenario:
    No barn (horses live outside with run-ins), so no place to tack up indoors
    No indoor arena
    No outdoor arena
    Icy ground
    Frozen/hard ground

    There are two horses that I'm going to start working with once spring comes, but until then what can I do with the horses to get them in better shape?

    Thanks
    http://www.horsez-r-us.blogspot.com
    Blog of an ordinary and every day horse lover!



  2. #2

    Default

    I have a similar set up. There is snow on the ground for at least six months here. Roads are extremely slick most of the winter. Next year I want to get borium shoes so I can ride on roads all winter long. This year I've been working on groundwork with the very occasional bareback "ride" to get my fix. There are lots of activities to do on the ground until it's safe to ride. Even if it's safe enough for walking, walking in snow is a great workout for the horses. Just make sure to avoid the icy patches and cool down after. Stay safe and have fun!



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr. 25, 2007
    Posts
    1,326

    Default

    Can you haul in to work with a trainer? Lots of folks do winter training with someone who has an indoor then return to their own program in the Spring.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb. 2, 2003
    Location
    Iowa, USA
    Posts
    2,491

    Default

    I wouldn't do a ton of trotting or cantering on frozen ground, but you can work on all the same riding skills at the walk as you would at faster gaits. If you have hills or snow cover, that's great for conditioning. You don't say where you are, but it's rarely soooo cold that you really can't ride. I get that what's unbearably cold in one region is a totally fine day for outdoor activities in another. But regardless what your threshold is for icky weather, the lack of an indoor space to tack up sh not be a barrier except on the very worst of days when you probably wouldn't be out riding anyway. If the pasture is safe enough for them to pick their way around without falling on ice, it's safe enough for you to do the same in the saddle, right?

    I mean, it's pretty simple -- get the right type of clothes and layers so you can be warm while outside, and then just get out there. With the right gear, there is no (or little) hardship from being outside.
    Try to break down crushing defeats into smaller, more manageable failures. It’s also helpful every now and then to stop, take stock of your situation, and really beat yourself up about it.The Onion



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun. 30, 2006
    Location
    Middle Tennessee
    Posts
    4,877

    Default

    Good question, because I have the same problem! Plus, my fat mare is pretty spicy under saddle, especially when she isn't worked regularly. Getting on and just going for a relaxing walk never works out the way you plan...

    I tried doing some natural horsemanship-type groundwork last winter, but my horses and myself got bored with it rather quickly.

    I tried long-lining my fat mare around the pasture, thinking that might be a good way to keep her weight down... but I really suck at long-lining and usually manage to hog-tie my mare and myself.

    (On a side note, anyone have any tips on long-lining when your mare just likes to spin around and stare at you like you're insane?)

    I might try clicker training them some silly tricks for no reason whatsoever...
    Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


    1 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul. 8, 2007
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    1,474

    Default

    Same situation here. I trailer out to some state parks with trails through the pines or wide well packed fire roads. The thick bed of needles vastly improves the footing and I foxhunt weather permitting. That said I can count on one hand the number of rides I've gotten in since Thanksgiving but there's no extra money in the budget for lessons until our old house sells Or I'd be lessoning weekly and trying to get a deal to lease some indoor time.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb. 5, 2011
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    199

    Default

    Do what you can when the ground is ok, other wise walk walk walk. Weather here is pretty hit or miss so some weeks I can ride like normal, and other weeks I can only walk. However, I find there is actually a lot you can do while walking. Lengthen, shorten, leg yields, haunches in, shoulders in, spiral circles. All of it will translate to further gaits, there's lots you can do to keep it interesting, and it will at least help keep them fit! I'm not sure if these horses have been started or not but if they haven't then there's lots of ground work you can do too, get them walking forward and walking slowww, move away from pressure, backing up small slopes, you can do spiral circles on the ground too, set up little obstacle courses if you can any poles or cones (backing up, moving haunches over, side pass over a pole or even just a line on the ground). It's not like you have to do hours each day or anything but even 20-30 mins a few times a week will make a difference.

    Anyways... (un?)fortunately have plenty of experience keeping horses fit in less then stellar winter conditions without going crazy from boredom so if you have any questions/need more suggestions then feel free the msg me



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar. 26, 2005
    Location
    Back to Normal.. or as close as I'll ever get
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    9,577

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Texarkana View Post
    (On a side note, anyone have any tips on long-lining when your mare just likes to spin around and stare at you like you're insane?)
    BTDT - make sure your lines are run through the surcingle low enough so you can catch the Spinner and return them to straight ahead position.

    OP:
    I am a Coldweather Wuss and generally give them the Winter off.
    The most I might do is longe or ground-drive in my indoor and even then, infrequently & not for long.
    If I didn't have anyplace inside to work, it just would not happen.
    Spring is not far off.
    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
    Hey Vern! 1982-2009
    Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun. 30, 2006
    Location
    Middle Tennessee
    Posts
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2DogsFarm View Post
    BTDT - make sure your lines are run through the surcingle low enough so you can catch the Spinner and return them to straight ahead position.
    Thanks for the tip! Question: when the long lines are low in the surcingle, do you run the outside line (if you were to circle) over the back or behind the horse? When I run it over the back, I seem to have a problem with the outside line getting snagged on the surcingle...

    I know this is user error here, like I said, I am the worst ground driver ever! Which is why I think my mare likes to turn and look at me every 5 minutes, as if to say, "Mom, what exactly are you trying to accomplish here?"

    (OP, sorry for the hijack!)
    Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct. 2, 2012
    Location
    In the wilds of Northern Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    362

    Default

    I've been doing lots of carrot stretches this winter with one of the ones I'm working with. He's gotten very flexible and can reach right around to his hip on either side and go almost to his ears between his front legs. He's also a bit of a clown, so if he's around and I'm doing something else, I'll look back and there he is touching his nose to his hip waiting for me to give him a treat (I've been using timothy cubes instead of carrots). I think he's actually part dog he learns stuff like that so easily. I may move on to teaching him to bow.
    At its finest, rider and horse are joined not by tack, but by trust. Each is totally reliant upon the other. Each is the selfless guardian of the other's very well-being.
    (Author Unknown)



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar. 3, 2012
    Posts
    235

    Default

    Tex no worries about the hijack I like it when people can discuss multiple things on one post

    Hippo - I live in Maine and lately its been below 0 (not including the wind chill) we are currently having our January thaw so it's been 40s out for the past two days (although yesterday was raining)

    The horses have been started, although one horse I hear has some ground issues (although I worked with her doing some desensitizing and she was respectful, although tense and a little skittish but by the end of our session she was standing still and more relaxed). The other horse I worked with this fall and just want to get working with her some more.

    Is anyone aware of any really good ground work books out there that I could purchase? I've searched on Amazon but have had a hard time figuring out which one I should get.
    http://www.horsez-r-us.blogspot.com
    Blog of an ordinary and every day horse lover!



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr. 2, 2009
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    5,326

    Default

    You can certainly do lots of walking -- not thrilling, but plenty of things can be taught, suppling, flexing, lateral, moving away from pressure, poles...

    I do some trot work if the ground is frozen as long as it's not rutted, I like to work my horses on as many surfaces as I can find to get those soft tissues (and bone for young horses) as strong as possible. Bone only builds with harder impacts. Not on ice, naturally -- do you have borium or studs?
    Life doesn't have perfect footing.

    Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
    We Are Flying Solo



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct. 2, 2012
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    In the wilds of Northern Ontario, Canada
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    362

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Horsez-R-Us View Post
    Is anyone aware of any really good ground work books out there that I could purchase? I've searched on Amazon but have had a hard time figuring out which one I should get.
    I use my Muck Brit Colts for EVERYTHING this time of year (and it's even colder here than in Maine!). I ride in them, feed in them, muck the barn in them and do ground work in them. They are so comfortable and with a thick pair of socks warm too.
    At its finest, rider and horse are joined not by tack, but by trust. Each is totally reliant upon the other. Each is the selfless guardian of the other's very well-being.
    (Author Unknown)



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov. 1, 2007
    Location
    ....in a classroom in Fl, by the ocean
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    3,810

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Texarkana View Post
    Thanks for the tip! Question: when the long lines are low in the surcingle, do you run the outside line (if you were to circle) over the back or behind the horse? When I run it over the back, I seem to have a problem with the outside line getting snagged on the surcingle...

    I know this is user error here, like I said, I am the worst ground driver ever! Which is why I think my mare likes to turn and look at me every 5 minutes, as if to say, "Mom, what exactly are you trying to accomplish here?"

    (OP, sorry for the hijack!)
    Walk behind closer to the horse to get the 'feel' better and so your horse figures out what you are asking; for her to work and walk forward on her own. Instead of long lining, ground drive. Once the two of you figure it out, you can move slowly into the middle of the circle while she works around you. It may take a few times for her to get the message. Do not forget a whip, it is your friend to drive her forward.

    OP, lateral work, liberty work, stretching, and just creating that bond and working relationship can be accomplished from the ground. As a life long driver I feel that riders forget the importance of ground work.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul. 16, 2003
    Posts
    2,987

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Horsez-R-Us View Post
    Is anyone aware of any really good ground work books out there that I could purchase? I've searched on Amazon but have had a hard time figuring out which one I should get.
    Quote Originally Posted by NorthwoodsRider View Post
    I use my Muck Brit Colts for EVERYTHING this time of year (and it's even colder here than in Maine!). I ride in them, feed in them, muck the barn in them and do ground work in them. They are so comfortable and with a thick pair of socks warm too.
    I think you misread Horsez' post, they asked for books about ground work, not boots to wear while doing groundwork!
    Stay me with coffee, comfort me with chocolate, for I am sick of love.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb. 25, 2011
    Location
    So California
    Posts
    2,921

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    Quote Originally Posted by Whisper View Post
    I think you misread Horsez' post, they asked for books about ground work, not boots to wear while doing groundwork!
    How funny! I misread boots as well!



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar. 26, 2005
    Location
    Back to Normal.. or as close as I'll ever get
    Posts
    9,577

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    Quote Originally Posted by Texarkana View Post
    Thanks for the tip! Question: when the long lines are low in the surcingle, do you run the outside line (if you were to circle) over the back or behind the horse? When I run it over the back, I seem to have a problem with the outside line getting snagged on the surcingle...

    I know this is user error here, like I said, I am the worst ground driver ever! Which is why I think my mare likes to turn and look at me every 5 minutes, as if to say, "Mom, what exactly are you trying to accomplish here?"

    (OP, sorry for the hijack!)
    I am probably tied with you for Worst Longliner Ever.
    But I learned how to fix this courtesy of my Whirling Dervish Hackney pony.
    I run the outside line behind his butt and flip it over his back on the circle or when changing direction.
    MOH:
    ground-driving a Hackney - even at his "slow" walk - is like powerwalking!
    Wears me out before he's even warmed up!
    I think the Energizer Bunny was modeled on a Hackney.

    And kudos to myself.
    I took a lesson yesterday at 25F - I wore 2 pairs of socks and seriously thought I'd gotten frostbite on my big toes afterwards.
    Gotta check out those Muck Brits.....
    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
    Hey Vern! 1982-2009
    Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov. 14, 2011
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    racetrack
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    1,565

    Default

    Make the most of it. I use this time of year to catch up on vet work. Teeth, shots, coggins, etc. Rather do it this time of year when I have time rather than the middle of the year when we are busy.

    "Pat the horse; kick yourself" - Carl Hester



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Sep. 12, 2013
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    699

    Default

    Can you trailer to a nearby arena once a week? Another option is to board for a month or two over the winter so you can work with them.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun. 23, 2010
    Location
    Connecticut
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    I lived that life for the last 10 years. Even with hard ground, I included a little bit of trotting. I figured if she can manage to run around like a maniac on hard ground when I'm off her back, it won't kill her to trot for five minutes or less when I'm on her. And we needed a little bit of speed to take the edge off on some days.
    I liked working on trail skills and obstacles....opening and closing gates 9we're still not very good at closing), picking up and moving objects, backing around corners, etc. Gives them something to think about and allows you to work on skills like lateral movement without just drilling.
    Every year I say I'm going to spend the winter teaching my pony to ground tie...and then I don't. Maybe this will be the year.



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