10 Ways to Bond with Your Horse During the Winter Months

Winter, with its frosty mornings and snowy landscapes, often presents a unique set of challenges for horse owners and riders. The icy conditions, short days, and cold temperatures might make it seem like opportunities for bonding with your equine friend are limited. However, winter can actually be a wonderful time to strengthen your connection with your horse through a variety of indoor activities that are both enjoyable and beneficial.

We picked 10 great horse activities to try out this winter. Let us know which ones are your favorites!

Groundwork Training

Winter is the perfect time to focus on groundwork training. This can involve lunging, lead training, or teaching your horse to respond to voice commands. Groundwork helps reinforce your horse’s manners and respect, while also keeping their mind active. An indoor arena is ideal for this, but you can also work in a cleared barn aisle or yard. This training lays a foundation for better communication and understanding between you and your horse.

Grooming Sessions

There’s something inherently soothing about spending time grooming your horse. Winter grooming not only keeps your horse’s coat, mane, and tail in good condition but also allows for thorough checks for any skin issues or injuries that might be hidden under a thick winter coat. This time spent together helps build trust and a stronger bond, as grooming is a comforting activity that mimics the mutual grooming behavior horses display in herds.

Massage and Stretching

Learning basic equine massage and stretching techniques can be incredibly beneficial during the cold months. Massage helps improve circulation, which is especially important when your horse might not be moving as much. Stretching keeps your horse limber and can help prevent injuries. This also serves as a relaxing bonding activity, enhancing your connection through gentle, caring touch.

Obstacle Course

Setting up a simple indoor obstacle course can provide mental stimulation and physical exercise for your horse. Use poles, cones, and safe, makeshift barriers. This not only aids in training but also breaks the monotony of indoor confinement, providing an engaging challenge that keeps your horse’s mind sharp and focused.

Horse barn aisle with obstacle course

Equine Enrichment Toys

Just like dogs or cats, horses can benefit from enrichment toys (think: equine boredom busters). Treat balls, hanging snack dispensers, and stable mirrors are great options. These toys provide mental stimulation, reduce boredom, and can even help alleviate stress. Watching your horse figure out how to get treats from a ball or interact with a mirror can be both entertaining and enlightening.

Hot Mash Treats

Preparing hot mash treats is a wonderful way to pamper your horse during winter. Mashes made from bran or pelleted feed, mixed with warm water, and supplemented with chopped apples or carrots are not only delicious but also comforting in cold weather. Feeding your horse a warm treat can be a heartwarming experience, reinforcing the caring aspect of your relationship.

Educational Workshops

Attending or even organizing educational workshops on equine care, nutrition, or first aid can be a great winter activity. This not only enhances your knowledge and skills but also demonstrates your commitment to your horse’s well-being. Knowledge gained from these workshops can be applied directly to better care for your horse, which in turn strengthens the trust and bond between you.

DIY Horse Treats

Making your own homemade horse treats can be a fun and rewarding activity. Ingredients like oats, molasses, carrots, and apples can be used to create healthy treats. The process of making these treats and then feeding them to your horse can be a delightful way to spend a winter day.

Round Horse Treat Cookies Kid Hand

Horse Yoga

Horse yoga, though it may sound unusual, is a growing trend. It involves performing yoga alongside or even while on your horse. This can be a peaceful and grounding activity that promotes relaxation and harmony. The slow movements and deep breathing are calming for both you and your horse, fostering a serene environment of mutual trust and understanding.

Braiding Mane and Tail

Finally, spending time braiding your horse’s mane and tail can be both a bonding and a grooming activity. It allows for creativity and care, and the physical closeness it requires can further strengthen your bond. Braiding also has practical benefits, as it keeps the mane and tail tidy and prevents tangling and breakage.

Winter Fun with Horses

Winter doesn’t have to be a downtime for equestrian enthusiasts. It can be a season filled with unique and engaging activities that deepen your relationship with your horse. By taking advantage of indoor activities and focusing on care, training, and enrichment, you can enjoy quality time with your horse!


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