Tips for outdoor riding in the winter - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 11-03-2012, 06:18 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2012
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Tips for outdoor riding in the winter

I won't have access to a riding arena this winter *sob*

So I'm dreading the cold weather, I don't want my horse to sit in a field all winter and let all my hard work go to waste.

Does anyone have any tips for riding outdoors?

I live in yes, it gets cold, very cold.
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post #2 of 15 Old 11-03-2012, 11:03 PM
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: yankee ct where we live forever
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layers and more layers, down vest, fleece jackets and pullovers and no wick liners.

I just picked up a Mountain Horse Opus Balaclava liner for my helmet and some warm gloves. There's a nice selection in stock at If the gloves aren't warm enough, I'll look around for silk glove liners.

for being out of doors in super cold, I like clothing close to the body in very light layers. I dont expect to be riding in a blizzard or anything like that, but below freezing is typical winter in new england and the arenas are not heated. (but still probably like spring to you canadians )

I also have been picking up those no wick thermal liners, tops and bottoms to wear under layers of clothes. they're super light and thin but they're very effective at keeping in the warmth. worst is toes though so I'm looking to pick up silk socks to go under my regular socks unless someone suggests something better. I just keep picking up inexpensive lightweight thermal type items...I gotta keep my body flexible but warm.

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post #3 of 15 Old 11-04-2012, 12:46 AM
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Oregon
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I was told by a fisherman acquaintance of mine to get one of those back muscle chemical heat pads that stick on. Says since he started using one of those he stays much warmer while sitting on the river fishing in the winter.
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post #4 of 15 Old 11-04-2012, 06:49 PM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Alberta
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Ride bareback! You will stay warmer and it will help improve your balance and seat. You can also work on more subtle communication with seat and legs. I often ride in the paddock with just a halter and reins so I don't have to out a cold bit in my horses mouth. Again, this is great practice for riding with seat and legs.

Do watch when it may be slippery. Koolio (my gelding) took a tumble and fell on top of me today in the snow. Luckily the snow cushioned our fall and neither of us got hurt. Scary though, and a good reminder that wet snow over grass is very slippery.
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post #5 of 15 Old 11-04-2012, 07:22 PM
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I would say the same as the others for the human- Lots of layers, helmet liners, and if you aren't one tow ear a helmet a big fluffy hat :)

For your horse, I would suggest a bit warmer (Someone is selling homemade ones on here.) This is so your horse accepts the bit easily and does not begin to hate the bit. You also might look into those warm blanket/sheets that go under your saddle when you ride if you normally blanket your horse. If you normally do not blanket your horse then just get a nice thick pad that will wick away the sweat so it doesn't get too cold.

That's all I could think of, I'm sure I will come up with more later :p

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post #6 of 15 Old 11-04-2012, 07:57 PM
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Minnesota
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I'm in Minnesota, so I know the cold you're talking about! I don't ride Clem in REALLY cold days, the days where you go outside and the air is so cold it stings your throat and lungs, because if it's that uncomfortable for me working the horse wouldn't be so comfortable for her, either. But I make sure the footing is secure, no ice under the snow. Wear LAYERS of clothing. Fleet Farm down here sells flannel lined jeans, you could maybe order some online. Leggings and underarmor. Big wooly socks. Winter boots (Sadly I don't have winter riding boots, so my feet freeze.) Maybe even get those footwarmers and stick them in the toes of your boots.

On top you want layers but not so many that it impedes your movement. Undersrmor, sweatshirt, heavy jacket. I have an old german army coat I use - it's made for warmth, and it's very long while the zipper only goes down to my waist which makes for easy movement. And it's machine washable. I bought a VERY warm and VERY heave leather jacket lined with soft, but it's dry clean only. So if I wanted to wear it anywhere else I would have to dry clean the horse smell out of it :p

If you wear a helmet, wear an earflap hat under it or your ears will get COLD. If it won't fit under your helmet, maybe invest in a slightly larger winter helmet that a hat will fit under. A scarf so the wind doesn't frostbite your face. and definitely gloves, or you won't be able to use your hands after 20 minutes. Believe me, if your hands, face, or ears are cold you will be miserable the whole time. Someone mentioned those chemically heated back things - I've never thought of that, but it's a good idea. I know they exist for back pain - get one of those, and wear it underneath your clothing to keep you warm.

As for the horse, if it's cold enough, I know they sell blanket things that you use while riding that covers the back half of the horse to keep it warm. If you don't blanket in the winter though (I don't myself, Clem grows a massively thick winter coat and has never needed one) that wouldn't be necessary. Warm the horse up a bit longer than you would, let its joints warm up and get the horse a bit warmer. Warm the bit up so it's not so shockingly cold.

Riding in winter, while dressed correctly, can be beautiful - but believe me, I know your pain with the cold winters. Going out to visit your horse in -35 degree weather when the wind is screaming is NOT pleasant. Gotta wait for the non windy days at least. The plus side is if there's a lot of snow, if you get dumped you have a cushion!
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post #7 of 15 Old 11-05-2012, 12:17 AM
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Brandon, Manitoba Canada
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I live in Manitoba Canada....we ride int he winter, I like the cooler temps LOL I sometimes ride with a bareback pad/with stirrups and halter. We get those toe warmers and wear those when we go out riding, I find it's usually my feet that get cold first.
Yes be careful with the slippery snow, we got snow here already but it's been mild, I was walking down the hill in the driveway to go yesterday thinking I might ride but I slipped on my butt so I figured it wasn't really a good idea at all......

My horses are the joy in my life.....
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post #8 of 15 Old 11-05-2012, 03:36 PM
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Isle, Minnesota
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I live in MN. I have been looking for a good warm pair of riding boots, my toes always get cold. Any good recommendations? I have been looking at the Mountain Horse Boots. Reviews look like they last and hold up well but, does anybody know if they are any good at keeping your toes warm?
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post #9 of 15 Old 11-05-2012, 05:56 PM
Join Date: Mar 2008
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I just got a pair of Muck Brit Colts and I LOVE them. My feet stay toasty warm. The larger sizes tend to get a bit bulky, though, so fitting in a stirrup safely may be an issue.

I always rode bareback in the winter, because I stayed warmer and so I didn't have to freeze my fingers off tacking up. I also usually rode in a hackamore or bosal so I didn't have to warm up a cold bit. The bonus about winter: softer landing in the snow (just don't land on ice!).
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post #10 of 15 Old 11-05-2012, 08:29 PM
Join Date: Jan 2012
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Sir Rannulph Fiennes (a British explorer) is credited with saying, "There's no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing." I've heard this as a Norwegian saying, too.

You've gotten good suggestions. I want to encourage you to go out even when you think it's too crummy out. You will adapt well and maybe surprise yourself.

There is something special about being outside with your horse in the winter. To me, it creates a bond that can't happen in fairer weather. Hope you have a fun winter!
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