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Get your Horse Moving!

   Winter can sure be a damper on the fun with horses. Everything turns into a huge chore, from feeding and watering to picking up muddy. As much of a burden as it can be, remember the fun you have the rest of the year. This month I want to encourage you to "Just do SOMETHING" with your horses. It doesn't have to be a 12 mile trail ride or even a 2 mile ride to benefit you and your horse.
   Just getting out for a few minutes to lightly brush your horse or pick out his feet and lead him down the drive will keep him from getting quite so wild over the winter. Every little bit of handling keeps his mind on behaving and reminds him to respect you. Next spring you will have an easier time getting him back into training than if you only dumped feed and walked away all winter long. Will you do something every single day this winter? Probably not. I won't. Sometimes it's too dark, cold or I just don't have time. But some days I have 10 minutes to spend with them and make the most of it. I may just do something small, like hop up and ride bareback to the mailbox and back, 2 minutes, tops. The cumulative result is the reward, though. My horses don't see the halter as something to run from, because it may mean a grooming, or just a mosey in the pasture.
  The other positive is for their feet. ANY movement will benefit them. Even if it doesn't seem to, all movement will help build healthier feet. It increases circulation and helps keep them in shape, just like any other part of the body. Sometimes I get the whole herd in the large pen, and free longe them (bascially chase them with a rope to encourage them to frisk around). It exercises all of them at once and I can assess if anyone is lame or not feeling well.
   Finally, any time you spend with your horse, even when it's just a moment of solitude, will remind you why you love horses in the first place. The furry whiskers, the large, liquid eye. You will also become more aware of your horses' health and know quicker when something is wrong. The benefits are there. So even if you can't do everything you want in one afternoon, Just do Something with your horse and enjoy.
Snowy view from atop a horse