Poll Recap: Winter Fitness

Poll Recap: Winter Fitness

Of the 905 voters, 189 readers (21%) keep their horses in full training during the winter, while an additional 175 voters (19%) said they ride their horses lightly during the winter.

Photo: Keith Larson

In last week’s poll, we asked our readers how they exercise their horses during the winter months. More than 900 readers responded, and we’ve tallied the results

Of the 905 voters, 301 individuals (33%) said their horses get exercise while staying out on pasture all winter long, while 211 voters (23%) said their horses get exercise via daily turnout. Another 189 readers (21%) keep their horses in full training during the winter, while an additional 175 voters (19%) said they ride their horses lightly during the winter. Only 29 individuals (3%) indicated they exercise their horses by hand walking or longeing during the cold weather.

Poll Results

 Additionally, 137 readers commented about their horse’s winter exercise routine: 

Many people indicated that they use a combination of methods when exercising their horses:

  • “My horses are stalled at night and turned out all day. They are ridden lightly, weather permitting.”
  • “Primarily daily turn out, with some light riding (2-3 times weekly), and some ground work (3-4 times weekly).”
  • “Hand walking with added light riding.”
  • “Out of the five choices I will do four of them, depending on the temperature.”
  • “Flat work, hacking, and some jumping depending on the weather.”
  • “Ride, longe, and hand walk/graze, in addition to 24.7 turnout.”
  • “Depends on the weather. If single digits or below zero, longeing and light riding.”
  • “Daily turn out combined with light riding”
  • “Ride 2-3 times a week at an indoor arena; out on pasture with blanketing the rest of the time.”
  • “Turnout and a fairly regular riding schedule.”
  • “I exercise mine lightly at the weekend, a little light road work or grazing in hand.”
  • “I ride lightly, turnout (indoor arena), and hand walk/ longe.”
  • “A combination of training techniques with all day turnout.”
  • “All of the above are alternated depending on the weather conditions.”
  • “Turnout during the day, preceded by walking machine. On evenings (I ride in a) riding hall, and on weekends (we) ride out.”
  • “Daily turnout plus light/moderate riding and foxhunting.”
  • “Daily turnout, but light riding a few times throughout the winter months.”
  • “Daily turnout, light riding weather permitting, and haul out for lessons once or twice a month.”
  • “Combination of turnout, light riding, and training three days a week.”
  • “Daily turnout and riding 4-5 days per week.”
  • “Actually, daily turnout (at least 5-6 hours), and alternating light riding and/or longeing.”
  • “Twenty-four hour turn out and light riding when footing permits.”
  • “Pasture 24/7 with light riding and/or groundwork.”

Others commented that they exercise their horse through light riding:

  • “Some of them also get light riding once or twice a week, weather permitting.”
  • “In Phoenix, winter is riding season!”
  • “My horse is in a stall with a 100 foot run. But I ride him at least 4 times per week.”
  • “When weather permits, we go for strolls on the trails or around the pasture. Not enough to sweat.”
  • “I ride if the weather is over 10°F and no ice blowing sideways.”
  • “She's 27 and gets light riding exercise all year round.”
  • “I ride my horse for 2 hour every day unless it is icy.”
  • “I also keep riding mostly at the walk with a little trotting to keep horse legged up.”
  • “Easy short trail rides and is kept in an in-out.”
  • “I ride at least 5 days a week: One day schooling and four hacking, mostly in trot/canter. Plus turnout.”
  • “Light riding in addition to all-day turnout (unless there's ice).”

A few commented that their horses stay in full training during the winter:

  • “Full training but varied according to inclement weather.”
  • “My Thoroughbred stays in as close to full work as possible without an indoor arena.”
  • “Full training and 24/7 turnout with a shelter.”

Some said their horses stay out on pasture during the winter:

  • “She's pastured, but I ride her when I can and longe her as well.”
  • “Twenty-four hourr turnout all year long.”
  • “Outside 24/7 all year round.”
  • “Always on pasture, but riding depends on the weather.”
  • “My horses are turn out all the time and on mild days they are ridden”
  • “They stay out except to eat their grain or bad weather. Pretty easy to get fit in the spring.”

A couple of readers said that they focus on ground work with their horses:

  • “I try to work on groundwork at least weekly during the winter to keep their mind tuned.”
  •  “Our usually mild Arizona winter has been rough this year-mostly doing ground work.”

Find out more about how to maintaining your horse’s fitness during the winter at TheHorse.com! 

In this week’s poll, we want to know if your horses are shod during the winter months? Vote now

The results of our weekly polls are published in The Horse Health E-Newsletter, which offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them. Sign up for our e-newsletters on our homepage and look for a new poll on TheHorse.com

About the Author

Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com Web Producer

Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com Web Producer, is a lifelong horse owner who competes with her Appaloosas in Western performance events. She is a University of Kentucky graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in Community Communications and Leadership Development, and master's degree in Career, Technical, and Leadership Education. She currently lives on a small farm in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

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