Sunday, December 6, 2009

Pasture Play for Dressage Horses

There are several camps regarding how dressage horses should be managed, both within the competition season and off season.   Opinions about daily routines for the dressage horse can differ from barn to barn, and within a barn, from trainer to trainer.

With show season on hold for Winter until next April, dressage horse owners in New England are faced with decisions in regards to things such as :
  • Light (if any) work off season or keep in full training ?
  • Long winter coat, partial clip, or full clip ?
  • Shoes during off season or barefoot ?
  • To turn out or not to turn out ?
  • Turn out alone or with others ?
  • Wrap in cotton wool or rough it ?
  • ... the list of horse husbandry issues goes on and on.
For our horses, pasture time is a constant.   Whether winter or summer, show season or off season, they are turned out in small groups of equine buddies.   Clipping is kept to a bare minimum (bib clips).   Shoes are off for the winter.   And ridden work is kept fairly light, with focus on submission, response to aids, and lateral movement.

A couple weeks ago, just before our first good snowfall, we filmed some of the pasture play between two of our KWPN Dutch Warmbloods.   The dark horse is our Training Level competition horse.   The chestnut is a 3 year old who has just recently been started. This goofiness is a daily occurance.   We enjoy it, as it lets us observe how happy are horses really are day to day.   Yup, it's a dressage horse's life!     :-)

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