When should you work with your horse? So many different opinions have been floating around lately on this subject. Some folks say don’t work with horses in the cold because they will colic, others say don’t work with them in the heat because they will overheat. This article is to help clarify the situation and questions about when you should be working with your horses.

As in many cases the simplest answer is usually the best, WORK WITH YOUR HORSE! In our lives today our horses spend their time either in one relatively small pasture or groups of pastures or perhaps in a stall. In short, our horses are bored, very bored. With our horses boredom comes lack of exercises and lack of mental/emotional stimulation.

Many years ago horses were part of everyday daily activities. They were and are creatures designed for work and constant interaction. They need daily exercise and mental stimulation to be healthy and happy. What is more you need to be with them daily to build a relationship with them.

Horses are creatures of hierarchy and emotion. Each time you take a long drawn out break (such as all winter or all summer) from working with your horse it creates confusion in your horses mind. They do not understand why part of their herd, or ideally their herd leader is not there. That being said I will explain some guidelines for working with your horse in extreme conditions.

Winter: Winter can be an amazing time to work with your horse. The temperature makes them frisky and ready for exercise. Your horse craves motion during this time! To safely work with your in winter remember the following. Long warmups to prevent injury, long warm down/cool downs to prevent injury and system upset.  Also take into account the ground conditions. Be aware of ice on the ground and the hardness of frozen ground. Work safely but consistently and keep working! Do not use excuses of it being too cold for your horse to work. Your horse has to be out in it anyway, so put your warmies on and get out there.

Summer: In some states such as our native Texas the summers can be brutal. Temperatures easily get into the hundreds and the heat can seem unbearable. Yet, just like winter, our horses are outside in it anyway. Your horse may not want to exercises at high noon but he/she still wants to do something that day! Too safely work with your horse in summer remember the following, long warm ups to prevent injury, long warm downs/cool downs to allow for recovery time and to prevent injury and overheating.  Other helpful things you can do for your horse in summer time is to provide plenty of electrolytes before exercise. Hose their neck and legs (anywhere the saddle does not go) before exercises. Hose them completely after exercise. (Hosing is especially important for horses with sweating conditions.) Wake up early or stay up late! Morning, evening and night are your friends in summer, especially if you do not have access to a covered arena. Make no excuses! Yes its hot, you care more about the heat then your horse does. Again, your horse has to stand out in it anyway. Get out there and work with your horse!

As a final note, please consider that not working with your horse during the undesirable times of the year will have far worse effects on their health and your relationship then working through those times. Just like us, horses need to practice to get good at their exercises. They need time to strengthen relationships. Your horse will get in worse condition, possibly a worse mood, possibly disrespectful and certainly out of shape if you use the weather as an excuse for not working with it. The weather bothers us the humans. Not our horses.