Winter fitness - how to keep your horse fit even in winter

Are you dreading the thought of the upcoming winter months? If you belong to the "shivering-freezing-warm-bed" faction, you will know why. Not only the clock is turned from summer to winter time. Our whole body and mind has to change again.

And if that weren't enough, the changes can also be felt in the horse. The fluffy plush covers the horse's body, the paddock season is coming to an end and the horse's musculature is clearly regressing due to less movement.

Many riders take a break from training in winter. But is is necessary?

Doesn't it make much more sense to use the cooler temperatures (without buzzing pests, mind you!) to give the horse a plus in fitness? After all, there are countless ways to keep the walking animal (!) horse busy.

Let's be honest: Often it's because of our inner pig, isn't it? We would like to tell you how you can get rid of the annoying animal quickly and how you can do something good for yourself and your horse in winter.

Work thoughtfully and be adaptable!

Yes, the weather often rules our minds. Nevertheless, let's get our act together, pull suitable clothing from the depths of the wardrobe (lambskin underwear is tops!) and head for the horsey. Perhaps the hot cocoa in the thermos and a slice of mummy's cake will be a nice incentive to get going? Even some bad-weather shopping at the equestrian shop reactivates the desire. A smart new scarf and a cosy waistcoat want to be presented, after all.

It's raining. No problem. Practice your composure with your darling. The pelting rain on umbrellas and rain jackets can be challenge enough for many a hottie. Autumn and winter are also windy times. Many horses react anxiously to the sound of leaves and wind. It is a good idea to include small exercises (e.g. a flutter tape curtain) to strengthen their trust in you. Walking a lot can also help your animal to relax. Regularity is the key.

A training plan for the horse is a definite plus. It helps you not to lose the thread. Whether it's walks, lunge work, equikinetic or extensive pole training - it's up to you and you can diversify. It also gives you an overview of the units you have already completed. If you share the tasks with a riding partner - all the better. Then your training plan will complement itself and the horse's muscles will have the best chance to build up.

Discover Equikinetic for yourself

Good equipment is the be-all and end-all

And the best thing is: it really doesn't take much effort. All you need are a few lanes, a timer (you work in short intervals), a cavesson, a lunge and a crop. With the help of a square volte your horse learns to hold the bend. Breaks, indicated by timers, give the horse a time rhythm. The following applies: Start with a few minutes (leading in position) and slowly increase! It is a very intensive training programme. Real head and body work for your treasure. If you want to do it professionally, the courses and books are highly recommended.

Lungeing without monotony

Lunging today is more than just letting the horse go round and round. If cavaletti are included, pylons are used, small jumps are integrated or a tarp is laid out on the ground, the horse is offered a lot of variety.

Increasing and decreasing circles, changes of pace and stop and go exercises prepare the horse wonderfully for further work in the saddle. Double lunge work in particular routinises the horse and refines the aids for later riding.

The plus for your horse is that it learns to walk freely, as it does not have to pay attention to the rider. Your horse's musculature will improve considerably.

Tip: If possible, use the whole riding arena!

Barre training for belly, legs and buttocks

Whether on the lunge or under the rider - poles should be part of the training plan. It promotes clean gaits in the horse and has an absolutely positive effect on all muscle groups.

Your horse learns to judge distances and to lift his legs/belly (six-pack hello!). As a raised cavaletti, the momentum goes forward and upwards. The thrust of the hindquarters is activated in the best possible way. This build-up training can give the horse an extra portion of strength.

Groundwork a la Horsemanship

Parelli, for example, gives you a good example of horsemanship units. His 7 games are legendary and help you and your treasure to get along better. Both in terms of handling and riding. It doesn't matter which equestrian sport you come from. Some instructors give courses in Germany. You should register as soon as possible, as the places are in great demand.


This kind of horse activity is certainly fun for both of you. Horses are curious by nature and enjoy discovering new things (for a treat or two). In this way, the most fantastic circus skills can be practised with horses of all ages.

Compliment, Spanish walk & Co are great for gymnastics and a pleasant change to the otherwise tight training schedule of the horse. As with equikinetic, many muscle groups are challenged. A great addition to riding!

Off-road in winter?

Yes of course. Of course, the ground must be checked for suitability beforehand. In slush and ice, however, the riding arena/indoor is the safer choice. Especially a long, brisk walk (especially over hilly terrain!) gives you muscles and increases your endurance. A saddle skin cover will keep your backside warm and a kidney blanket, laid over your thighs, could provide additional warmth.

If you also use the cross-country in winter, your partner will be much more relaxed in spring. Excursions like this should always be on your horse's training schedule! Because: There are really many great winter days (clear air, blue sky with sun) that just scream for "OUT". Isn't that right?

Tip: Download a weather app to your mobile phone. That way you can plan better in advance.