Winter fun indoors with horses

Here’s something fun to do with your horse: free jumping! It’s inspiring and a great thing to do as a change of pace when winter forces you into the indoor arena all the time.

Basically, what you do is simple. Set up an alleyway leading up to a one-stride jump. Make the “in” jump just a small cross rail. The “out” jump is the one your horse will really be jumping over and that’s the one you …raise and, eventually turn into an oxer. Start small with that one, too, though, as this exercise should be nothing but fun for your horse.

The idea is to allow him to learn on his own how to use himself over a jump, without the weight and intentions of a rider interfering. And yes, just by our presence, we change a horse’s way of going. You never want to overface him, scare him, or take him by surprise with this. Here’s an excellent article for all the how-to’s of free jumping

If your horse takes to this, as mine does, he’ll canter around the arena and actively seek out the entrance alley like it’s the biggest treat in the world. Here’s a picture of my horse, Magic, in full winter coat, having no trouble at all over a pretty big jump…for a horse who’s not a jumper!

Magic jumping a 3-foot oxer!

This entry was posted in Dispatches, The Ranch. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Winter fun indoors with horses

  1. Practical Horseman says:

    Thanks for the plug, Dina! If you want to read more about how to do this safely, see the article “Free-Jumping Fun!” in the January 2012 issue of Practical Horseman. Glad you tried it, and it looks like Magic had a great time playing!–Stacey Wigmore (Managing Editor)

    • dina says:

      I included the link for the article for just that reason. It’s the best and most encouraging of this sort of article that I’ve ever seen. That’s why I was inspired to try it. It was wonderful fun. Now I have three friends who are using free jumping as a change of pace for their young horses (3 and 4 years old), who get put off by too much arena work in the winter. They’ll grow up to be trail or working cow horses…so just goes to show how versatile a game this is.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.