The key to keeping horses interested & engaged during the long winter months is to keep it varied and fun for the horses!
I try to hack around the fields, including hill work, which is great to strengthen them up while they’re having fun, for as long as the ground allows. Including lateral work & plenty of transitions between & within each pace can be included in hacks, educating your horse without the constraints of an arena. Hiring local gallops when the weather takes its toll on off road hacking can be really useful, as well as being great fun for everyone.
I also use plenty of pole work, including raised poles and trot & canter poles to help develop the different gears within each pace. Jumping helps to keep them interested & grids can be useful in developing strength.
Lunging is also useful, especially when the days are short & the weather is particularly miserable, and incorporated into their training regimes helps to keep the horses happy and willing to work, ready to come out all guns blazing next season!!
Nicky Patrick is based in Worcestershire & has competed for Great Britain as a Junior, Young rider and senior, and won a team bronze medal at the Young Rider European Championships in 2004.
Here’s Nicky & Alfie enjoying the lovely Worcestershire Countryside!