I had the vet out recently to take care of a serious wound on my 3 year old and to clean a swollen sheath on an old gelding. She has been on many colic calls recently and she attributed much of the colic to lack of movement. We got to chatting about how horses are not meant to stand still. She reiterated that all of a horse’s body systems need regular movement to remain healthy, especially the digestive and lymphatic. My horses haven’t had any colic episodes this winter. I attribute this to a decent amount of movement as well as feeding Formula 707 Restore electrolytes and Digestive Essentials.
People also have a tendency to not move as much in the dark days of winter. And, somehow the dryer shrinks pants at this time of year more than ever. Here are some ideas (and hopefully motivational tidbits) on why and how to get out there MOVIN’ and GROOVIN’!
The key to making it enjoyable is to dress for it. If you don’t dress warm enough, it is just miserable. I hate being cold. Wear long underwear on top and bottom. Add a good turtleneck or neck warmer; this blocks the chill from creeping down your torso. Top it off with a good hat. The new “buffs” are great if you want something to pull up over your head and they also fit well under helmets and hats. Step into some wool socks and your insulated boots and head out the door.
Often we set our expectations too high and this may keep us from taking any action at all. If you are feeling lazy, don’t overwhelm yourself with hooking up your trailer or saddling up.
Put a halter on your horse. Find a sunny place to do a thorough currying. This will tone your arms and stimulate the horses skin and glands. Trim the bridle path, check for soreness and swellings of the back, legs and groin areas.
Next, take your horse for a brisk walk in hand. Get your heart rate up with some intermittent spurts of jogging. Feeling good now? Add in some proper leading techniques. Work on having your horse start, stop and back up in sync with you. Practice some of the basic 7 games. You will be amazed how fast the horse gets tuned up. If you are now getting motivated, consider heading out for an easy bareback ride in a pasture or on a safe road. Get out and do these activities at least once a week, then it will become habit.
When feeding time comes, carry the hay out in snow. This gives you a little walk and spreading forage makes the horses move around to graze. Bonus: The horses legs and feet get cleaned off in the snow.
The results? Both you and your horse get physical stimulation for your entire system. You get fresh air, vitamin D and emotional balance. What a bargain! No excuses, just get out there and do it.
I hope these positive thoughts get you Movin’ and Groovin! Happy winter riding from Southwest Colorado.