We’re all guilty of lacking motivation to exercise our horses over the winter months, especially when it’s cold and those few daylight hours are never enough.

However, with ever more horses spending (perhaps too much) time standing in their stables for hours on end – and with obesity now a huge issue across the sector – there are two reasons already not to make excuses and settle by the fire, but instead wrap up and saddle up.

Other reasons include:

1. Exercise beats boredom

Try to imagine being stuck in your bedroom all day with nothing to do other than look out of the window and munch on the occasional meal. Even hand-walking or hand-grazing for 15 minutes is better than nothing.

2. A healthier horse

When you exercise your horse, you are keeping their muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, heart and lungs healthy, meaning that they are less likely to become ill or suffer some kind of injury.

3. Prevent over-excitement

Riding a cold, fresh horse who has been cooped up in their stable for 15 hours isn’t much fun and can cause injuries. Exercise helps to channel your horse’s energy in the right way.

4. Be ready for spring

If you plan to compete or ride more during the spring, keeping your horse fit through the winter will make the transition to those active spring days so much easier.

5. Helping to keep your horse mobile

Horses who suffer from arthritis and stiffness tend to get worse in the winter when their joints are cold and they find themselves spending a lot of time standing still. Keeping them moving with regular, gentle exercise will help to prevent an overly-stiff horse.

6. Boost your mood

With the lack of sunlight and very little daylight, winter can be a depressing time – SAD syndrome really is a thing – but a ride aboard your favourite steed really will help to lift your spirits.

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