How cold is too cold? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 01-21-2013, 01:45 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2012
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Question How cold is too cold?

Hi, sorry if I'm not posting this in the right forum!

I live in WI and the temperatures are going to be pretty cold today and for the rest of the week. There's a severe cold weather alert and lessons are canceled until Thursday. Today the temperature is 4 degrees F to -10 degrees F. There is an indoor arena but it is unheated. I'm willing to go out in the cold to exercise my horse, but what temperature is too cold to work him in (by that I mean ride)? Is it better to let him go unworked for a couple of days? He does go outside during the day.

Last edited by Sage1; 01-21-2013 at 01:47 PM.
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post #2 of 8 Old 01-21-2013, 01:49 PM
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If you can stand getting out in the cold and working with your horse, the horse should be A okay. How YOU feel in the cold should be your gauge, your horse is much more hardier than you!
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post #3 of 8 Old 01-21-2013, 01:49 PM
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He will be fine, just make sure he has food and water :) eating keeps them warm:)
That temp is nothing for a horse.
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post #4 of 8 Old 01-21-2013, 01:53 PM
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Make sure he's completely dry before turning out again. You can always stick to easier things as to not get him too sweated up.
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post #5 of 8 Old 01-21-2013, 01:55 PM
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If it's colder than -20 I don't bring the outdoor horses in and ride. Around -20 I just give a light ride, that they aren't sweaty, and make sure they are really dry before going back out.
For horses who come inside at night, it's fine to ride at any temp, provided they are warm enough inside and have plenty of time to cool and dry off before going out again. These horses I usually ride in the evenings.

Good luck!

ETA I have a heated indoor/barn. I wouldn't ride outside below -10/-15

They say money doesn't buy happiness -- well happiness doesn't buy horses!

Last edited by ~*~anebel~*~; 01-21-2013 at 02:02 PM.
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post #6 of 8 Old 01-21-2013, 01:57 PM
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Healthy horses can manage cold temperatures as long as they have shelter from wind & rain, access to hay & water, a good coat, and aren't skinny. But exercising them in very cold temperatures can be harmful for their respiratory systems. When it's too cold for me to take a deep breath comfortably, I know it's definitely too cold to work the horses. Personally, my cut off for working horses or teaching lessons is about -12C (about 10F). Besides it being hard on the horse's lungs to work in very cold weather, it's also uncomfortable for me standing to teach and for the students (frozen toes & fingers).

Another thing to consider is the colder it is, the more tense the muscles are and the longer it takes to warm them up properly. This goes for the riders as well as the horses. If you must exercise your horses in very cold weather, keep it easy and slow work so they don't breathe hard and don't strain those cold muscles.

My recommendation is to give them time off in cold weather. Turn them out if possible ensuring they have adequate shelter (wind break) and hay. It's the digestion of the hay that keeps their internal furnace working.

Stay warm!
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post #7 of 8 Old 01-21-2013, 01:59 PM
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Have fun, don't you just love the cold..NOT.

I agree with the others, fine to ride, don't sweat him up, if he's warm and damp dry off before turning out. I like to use hackamores or ride in a halter, or at least use a bit warmer when it is very cold.

Usually I'm the limiting factor, if it is that horrible cold that I am wearing dozens of layers, I can't even get on a horse, so I do ground work instead,
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post #8 of 8 Old 01-21-2013, 02:20 PM
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I don't work the horse below 10F. If it's a short term cold snap and the horses are not used to it that cold, I leave them be. If it's the norm for the winter, I work at 10F and above.
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