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A Horse Owner's Survival Guide to Fall and Winter

Winter stinks, but it doesn't have to wreck your riding. Here's how to stay sane through the darkest days of the year.

November 5, 2013

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Autumn Horse Daylight Saving Time has ended, snowflakes have already fallen in some parts of the country, and winter won't even officially begin for nearly two months. Between trying to find your horse in the dark after winter's early sunset, currying mud out of his winter coat until you fear your arm will fall off, and breaking ice out of your troughs only to have them freeze up an hour later, winter can really suck the fun right out of horse ownership.

It doesn't have to be all doom and gloom until next March, and you don't have to have the funds to travel to the Florida winter show circuit to enjoy your horse year 'round. Here are some resources to help you get through the season ahead.

15 Steps to Ride in an Hour
The long, luxurious summer evening rides are just a memory now, but just because you don't have daylight on your side doesn't mean you can't fit in a ride. Whether you're trying to squeeze your horse time into your lunch break or in those last moments before the sun sets in the mid-afternoon, these guidelines will help you make it happen. A short ride is better than no ride, right?
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A Winter Spa Day for Your Horse
Unless you have the luxury of a heated wash rack, your horse probably won't be getting a bath for a few months. But that doesn't mean you can't give him the benefit of a thorough grooming. Follow this plan for a winter spa day to bond with your pony and bring out the best shine his winter coat has to offer.
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Cure Winter Boredom with Barn Aisle Exercises
Your next show or big trail ride is months away. Take advantage of the slow season by devoting some time to groundwork. Just because you don't have an indoor arena doesn't mean you can't make progress on your horse's training. The next time the forecast calls for freezing rain, mixed precipitation or one of those other rider-unfriendly weather monstrosities, suit up in your warmest winter gear and spend some time in the barn aisle working on these activities.
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Indoor Entertainment
Once you've tucked your horse in for the night, sometimes the best winter equestrian activity is staying indoors with a hot drink and some equine entertainment. For that, we offer our suggestions for some of the best horse movies, horse books and horse-related songs (remember to add your own suggestions in the comments.)
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Further Reading
10 Winter Healthcare Mistakes to Avoid
Winter Horse Shoeing
Winter Feeding Tips
Horse Blanket Resources

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Reader Comments

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

11/26/2013 11:54:43 PM

Looks like some great tips.

XXX    X, DE

11/6/2013 3:29:19 PM

cool

Horse    Lover, WI

11/6/2013 1:49:35 PM

Nice ideas, HC!

Out there    somewhere, WI

11/6/2013 1:46:20 PM

Winter isn't so bad if you know what to plan ahead for. Good ideas.

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