Especially in winter there is often boredom in the stables and arenas. The weather and the early dark play mainly against working riders. With a bit of craftsmanship and imagination, you can easily bridge the cold season.
Variety for more motivation
Basically, horses are willing to work or run, and they often enjoy daily training. The sadness of winter quickly leads to boredom even with motivated horses, which in turn affects performance. Motivation and variety are therefore the key to success. Most riders regard winter work as a work and preparation phase for the coming season. But especially when learning new lessons or honing lessons you've already learned, the horse needs variety regularly and often - not just for the muscles, tendons and ligaments, but primarily for the head. A horse wants to be employed - and that doesn't just mean the one-hour training session per day. Especially not if, due to the weather conditions, the paddock and pasture time is shortened and the horse spends longer in the stable than in summer. Since professional riders in particular do not necessarily manage to tease their horse twice a day, imagination is required!!
– Fixed weekly planning
While it may still be bright until 10 p.m. in summer, in this time of year you can decide at short notice what you want to do with your horse today. Unfortunately, it is not so easy in winter, especially not if the hall is limited due to lesson times or can only be used at fixed times. It is therefore important to have a fairly firm weekly schedule, which you should use as a guide. For professional riders there is almost only the weekend for rides, which they should keep as free as possible. At least twice a week you should offer your horse something different than the brown riding hall paneling. That's why we always ride outside on Saturdays and Sundays - at least if the weather permits, but as the saying goes: there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. And if you can't do without your daily work, you can also practice dressage outside. Waysides are ideal for example as a line for side walks, lonely bushes or trees for riding circles and volts, uphill and downhill trains the hindquarters as well as the balance for gathered lessons and the terrain is ideal for groping for new lessons. The horse is more distracted on the one hand, but on the other hand it is so much easier that the horse and rider do not "bite". On paths with slight bends, the balance in the outside gallop can also be improved in a playful way. Or you can simply enjoy the time together with your horse, take a brisk gallop here and there and take a deep breath at the same time! This has a particularly positive effect on the respiratory tract and musculoskeletal system - the metabolism is heated up properly and the horse clears his head. So if the weekend is filled with work in the field, there are still five days left. Incidentally, if the paddock times in the stable are short in winter, a standing day is not advisable, since the horse's metabolism is primarily stimulated by movement. Even if it only means walking for 20 minutes - a horse needs movement: for the head, for the muscles, for health..
– Alternatives on the lunge
Lunge work in particular offers a lot of variety. From the "fast" - and mostly monotonous - halter lodge you can also work wonderfully well with your horse. Because honestly: Who of you would like to jog in a circle on a 15 meter circle for 30 minutes? Nobody - your horse is probably the same. So if you have a lunge, please make a change. Winter, for example, is ideal for trying something new. So how about a double lunge course? Otherwise, poles, cavalettis, tarpaulins and cones are ideal for a little variety. For the pole work in particular, the horse needs an alert and clear head and at the same time has to sort its limbs. The following applies: If the distance between the poles is shortened, the horse goes into the assembled work, if the distance is extended, the horse goes into the reinforcing work. For the newcomers to the pole, only a few poles in a row should be at a normal distance. The horse should have the opportunity to calmly deal with the new work. Especially since the rod work also demands completely different muscle groups. Other surfaces, such as tarpaulins or mats, require additional headwork and train the horse's balance. It is also extremely important for the elasticity of the tendons and ligaments to move the horse on different surfaces. Otherwise, how about a beginner's course in Equikinetic? The dual activation with the blue and yellow foam alleys promotes the longitudinal bending, the abdominal muscles and thus the bulging and of course the head, since both colors address both sides of the brain. The work is done in short repetitions and for beginners only in the crotch - this is actually exhausting enough, even if it doesn't look like it. However, I recommend actually using foam alleys at work, as this simply enormously minimizes the risk of injury. If the originals are too expensive, you can also weigh down and use colored swimming noodles or sew alleys out of truck tarpaulins. In most regions, however, special courses are also offered, which can be very useful, especially at the beginning, because you receive technical support and guidance on how the work can actually be used correctly and what you have to consider.
– In the saddle
In addition to the "normal" dressage work, you can of course bring some variety to your training from the saddle. It helps to make a plan beforehand what I want to do in the riding unit. Written down gives you the opportunity to see what has already been done. In this way, one avoids “biting” on certain lessons and does not practice the simple changes three days in a row - on the other hand, the expectation usually only leads to half-hearted results, which ultimately are of no use to anyone. A simple calendar in the locker allows you to quickly note and look up. Numerous books also deal with the topic of variety - for example for working with poles and pylons. The balance and the eye of the horse are trained at the same time and if a few dressage lessons are then added, the horses are definitely more motivated. So it doesn't hurt to take part in gymnastics here or there, or to take a jumping break for the show jumpers and to do casual dressage work. Maintaining the health of the horse is probably our common goal and this can only be achieved if we train the horse as diversely as possible so that the entire musculoskeletal system really remains supple.
–Play and Fun
As a last alternative, of course, fun riding, horse games or anti-fright training offer a nice change. The horse may not sweat physically, but the head is put under immense stress and this is even more strenuous in the end. If the paddock time is reduced to a few hours in winter, the horse spends a good 20 hours in his box. Simply riding an hour in a circle or hanging on the lunge barely offers enough variety to survive the remaining 19 hours of boxing time without boredom. So how about an anti-fright training? Everything you need can be found at home or in the stable. Grab a few more girls and off you go: Umbrella, tarpaulin and bags will give your horses a lot to think about. Streamers, balloons, a mattress, balls or cuddly toys can be found in every household and if not, they are not too expensive. If you are also a little more skilled in terms of craftsmanship, you can build a pedestal from pallets or a flutter tape curtain with two jump stands. Or how about some trailer training in a relaxed atmosphere without the "must" print? The winter time without tournaments is ideal for hanging training. Working on the hand, circus tricks or playing and having fun with gymnastic balls are also super quick to implement and offer you and your horse a lot of variety. In addition, such work also welds together and strengthens trust between humans and animals. So there are no limits to your imagination. Goodbye to boredom!