Q: What exercises could I do with my horse when it’s too hot for intense riding? Longeing? Poles?
A: My favorite answer: it depends. It depends on your definition of “longeing” and your definition of “poles.” For some people, longeing is 30 minutes around and around at a gallop, something that is sure to overheat your horse! Likewise poles can be a vigorous workout if they’re raised and you’re asking a horse to trot over them repeatedly.
On the other hand, lunging all over the arena or pasture with lots of walk, halt, and trot transitions, or working through a Tellington TTouch Training “playground” of poles and other obstacles can be productive options for engaging your horse mentally as well as physically when it’s too hot for a regular work session.
You could also explore long-lining or ground-driving, as well as work in-hand and double lunging. North American Western Dressage (NAWD) has recently released six long-lining tests that are fun to test your abilities with (I have!) I’m also a fan of Cherry Hill’s training books, two of which “101 Longing and Long-Lining Exercises” and “101 Ground Training Exercises” are excellent hot summer and cold winter projects. Besides the value to your horse, walking, talking, looking where you’re going, and handling a long whip all at the same time will take a certain amount of coordination and practice on your part and are excellent skills to add to your repertoire.
Summer is a great time to connect with your horse’s brain as well as his body, whether it’s through carrot stretches and other exercises in Hilary Clayton’s “Activate Your Horse’s Core” or through clicker training with Shawna Karrasch. My point is, there are lots of options out there for staying busy during the “dog days” of summer, including practicing your horse health skills such as body condition scoring, proper use of a weight tape and height stick, and taking your horse’s vitals (temp, pulse, respiration). Stay thirsty, my friends!