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!