Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
Hannah Russell
Features Writer
7:49 PM 19th February 2017

Why It's Important To Exercise Your Horse!

This time of year it's always a struggle to get the ponies into the fields. The weather is rainy, the paddocks are muddy and it's just not safe to put them into the paddocks sometimes.

I've read of many horror stories online where horses have got injured in muddy paddocks. Luckily this weekend the weather has been perfect and given us a glimpse into the spring weather as the nights are now beginning to draw out again. I can't wait for long summer nights with the horses.

Alfie loves his stables and last week he had to spend the majority of the week in his stable, due to the rainy weather in the Yorkshire Dales.

Alfie can sometimes get bored in his stable so I have lots of boredom breakers for him. He has a ball which he rolls around to get treats from. He has special horse toys and even a 'Horse Lickit' which is a little bit like a horse version of a lollipop which keeps him entertained on a rainy day.

Although this means Alfie doesn't get exercise and it's very important that horses have exercise for a number of reasons:

Horses are used to being outside. It's their natural herding instincts to roam around in the fields. If horses spend too much time cooped up in their stables they can get very agitated and stressed.
To reduce boredom. Horses get bored which can also lead to lots of health issues including stress.
To keep them fit and healthy. Horses need to be fit to maintain a healthy life. If your horse isn't getting exercise this can lead to weight gain and you could end up with an unhappy, unfit horse.
To help build and maintain muscle. With show season just around the corner, it's time to get your horse ready. Exercising your horse regularly will begin to build up their muscle ready for show season!
To keep your horse Happy! Most horses are incredibly happy who get regular exercise. If my horse Paddy has a few weeks off he can get very flighty, stressed and unhappy.

How much exercise your horse requires will all depend on their age, breed, discipline and other factors.

Since Alfie is a miniature Shetland he can't be ridden because he is too small and mainly due to his dwarfism nobody can ride him, so I compromise and take him for walks down the street, just like people do with a dog.

I usually take him for daily 15-20 minute walks. Alfie loves them and usually ends up eating all the fallen leaves on the way. It's a great way to keep him active and he generally really enjoys them. He always pulls me towards the gate with excitement which is nice to see.

Although I have to watch him at all times as he once pulled me into someone's front garden and started munching on their favourite plants... Safe to say they weren't too pleased with Alf's antics...