Holy freezing temps! Well, fall is definitely in full swing in the mountain region and sometimes that can mean dicey footing and a temperature that isn't always conducive to a productive workout. I always look at winter as a chance to get a little 'brain workout' done on chilly days we can't do work under saddle. Here are a few ideas you can do with your four legged friend when you go to the barn that are 'snow pants friendly'...
Lowering the poll - place your right hand on your horses poll and add light pressure until your horse lowers his head. Once your horse shows the slightest sign of lowering their head, release the pressure on their poll. Ask again with the same expectation and release when they give to the pressure. Repeat this process until you can successfully get your horse to lower their head pretty close to the ground with one gentle application of pressure on the poll. While it may seem like an insignificant task, asking your horse to lower their poll is a great stretch for muscles that run along the entire topline. When horses are turned out or in a pasture setting, they naturally lower their poll when they graze and do this stretch for themselves. If you have a horse that is kept in a stall and fed in a feeder that is chest height, this move is crucial for proper digestion and avoiding strain to those major topline muscles during work or turnout. My preference is to not pull down on the horse with a lead rope during this process, but to have them yield to the pressure at the poll.
A great lateral stretch that accompanies lowering the poll is to ask for your horse to bring their head around to meet their shoulder. The ask for this in going to come in the same fashion, apply pressure using the lead rope (hold lead rope near their withers), and ask your horse to bring their head around to meet you at their shoulder, releasing any time they show effort to soften to the pressure. Their instinct tells them to move their feet, but you want to keep applying the pressure until their feet are still and they are soft in the face. Repeat with both sides of your horse.
If you feel like you have mastered this lateral bend with a halter, try it without a halter and apply pressure to the opposite side of your horses upper jaw. Release the pressure with they yield (quiet with their feet) and repeat the ask until you receive your goal.
I like to incorporate these into my daily work with my equines (especially during the colder months) as they involve participation from the horse. You are able to do a bodywork exercise that is beneficial to the physical being of your horse, but you are also able to stimulate their mental being as well. As a (HUGE) bonus! Both of these methods will provide a softer horse under saddle as well, as they are learning to soften to pressure rather than brace against it.