Winter Walking for Horses  - Alba Physiotherapy
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Winter Walking for Horses 

Winter Walking for Horses 

It is that time of year again and now that the colder weather is here we are all having to remember how to deal with it. Horses need to be exercised even when we all feel like we should be hibernating. It’s this time of year you start to question why you own a horse? 

The team here at Alba Physiotherapy would like to share some tips to help make the winter months more bearable and help to make sure they are a happy and healthy experience for you and your horse. 


winter horse walk


Stay warm

  • Firstly don’t forget to wrap up warm with you and your horse, especially if they are clipped it’s a good idea if road hacking to use a hi viz riding rug. And you both are going to enjoy a winter ride more if you’re dressed properly. 


Hoof care 

  • When exercising in the winter months you may need to pay more attention to their hooves. Build up of ice or snow can occur which can cause them to walk unevenly or even slip or fall. You may want to consider special pads and ice caulks which can help stabilize your horse on slippery ground. You can keep your horse’s hooves in good condition by picking out their feet twice a day and cleaning mud off them whenever possible.  
  • If out in the field it is a good idea to take shoes off to make sure the ice and snow will naturally fall out of their hooves.



  • Consider your horse’s physical condition when planning their winter exercise programme. Take into account their fitness level and pre-existing illnesses, so you can create a plan that ensures your horse is safe but motivated throughout the dark and cold days. Keep your schedule realistic and be prepared to adapt it depending on weather conditions.
  • Keeping your horse active is important for both their physical and mental wellbeing. Don’t wait until the weekend to get your horse moving, exercising your horse little and often is much better than vigorous amounts of exercise over a couple of days.
  • If riding your horse isn’t an option, consider hand walking them instead! This is a fantastic substitute to lunging as although it may not feel as intense, it will still help to keep your horse fit. You can hand walk your horse anywhere, just make sure that you check your footing as you go.
  • Hand walking, lunging, horse walker, long reining, core activation exercises, are all ways to maintain movement, if you can’t ride/hack/school your horse.
  • Plenty of warm up: when it’s cold your horse’s muscles and joints will take longer to warm up, so a good 10-20 minute warm up in walk is ideal before anything else.
  • Make sure that you assess outdoor spaces before using them. If you can safely scrape snow from your riding area, then do it! If you’re going on a hack, try to stick to areas you know and make sure you’re continually looking for any hazards that may be hiding under the snow or ice.
  • Make sure to adjust your workload depending on the weather conditions and the surface underfoot. The most important thing is that you and your horse can ride safely, which means planning your ride accordingly.


Warming the bit

  • Don’t put a frozen bit into your horse’s mouth as this could cause pain and damage. Instead, warm the bit up for your horse. There are numerous ways you can warm up the bit, like  pouring hot water on it, heating it in your hands, and even bit warmers! It’s your choice what you use.


Cleaning your tack 

  • Cleaning your tack regularly as the harsh conditions may take their toll on the weather and it is important to maintain it as best as you can.


If you would like to know more about strengthening exercises and what you could be doing to help strengthen your horse in the winter please get in touch with the team here at Alba Physiotherapy. 

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Brid Walsh

Brid Walsh

Brid qualified in 2004 with a BSC Honours Degree in Sports and Exercise Science from the University of Limerick, Ireland. In evaluating her future path, she spent a summer in Alaska with the Hope Foundation supporting disabilities of various sorts. Her further work experience in the Rehabilitation Centre in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin convinced her that Physiotherapy was the direction she wished to specialise in. In 2007 she subsequently qualified from the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen with an MSC in Physiotherapy.
Brid Walsh

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