Winter Riding - The Horse Forum
  • 1 Post By grullagirl
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post #1 of 8 Old 11-17-2012, 10:58 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Erin, Ontario
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Question Winter Riding

I live in Canada and the snow will start to fly soon. I've always been at a barn with an indoor arena but now I am not. I've never ridden outside in the winter and was wondering if anyone can give me some do's and don'ts regarding outdoor arena maintenance, when is it too cold etc. etc. Thanks!
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post #2 of 8 Old 11-18-2012, 01:00 AM
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Brandon, Manitoba Canada
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Hi, I am in Manitoba.....we trail ride in the winter here. We've already got about 6 inches of snow. To get to the trails we have to ride on a road for about a mile, we try to stay off to the side where it's not slippery.
I don't think temperature wise it really matters, other than if your horse gets all sweaty from a good workout, then you would want to cool them down.
Not many want to ride outdoors in the winter here, they prefer an indoor arena....LOL I would love one but can't see it happening in the near future!

My horses are the joy in my life.....
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post #3 of 8 Old 11-20-2012, 03:26 AM
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada
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I am in North western Ontario and we ride outside all winter. Some of the things we do are as follows
- ride in the warmest part of the day
- dress in layers
- put winter riding stirrups on our saddles so we can wear our skidoo boots
- put those little hand and foot warmers in our pockets and boots
- often ride bareback because its warmer (we trail ride through forests mostly)
- warm the horses bit before we tack up or use a hackamore, bitless bridle, or halter
- if the horse is sweaty when we come back we put a fleece cooler on him to help him dry and prevent hiim getting a chill
- if it is extremely cold (-30 or more) we dont work the horses too fast or too long because of the theory (and I don't know if it is true) that really cold air could damage a horses lungs and we don't want to take that chance
- always be aware of the footing, don't take the horse faster than safe for the footing
- be aware that sometimes a heavy crust on the snow could cut the horse's legs as he breaks through it .

I can't think of anything else right now although I am sure I am forgetting some. I took lessons one winter in an indoor arena and to be honest I found it colder and much less appealing than being outside. Outside you have the sunshine and the brilliant blue skies and dazzling white snow.
post #4 of 8 Old 12-09-2012, 12:03 AM
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: North Idaho
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I am in North Idaho near the canadian border and we just now finally got 3 inches of snow yesterday! I have been out riding in the rain on the trails....praying for snow! This is my first year of riding the trails in the snow and i am sooo excited!
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post #5 of 8 Old 12-09-2012, 12:25 PM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: San Diego
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Let's see winter riding in San Diego, Ca .... we can barely ride from Dec-March it literally is 65 degrees

Sorry couldn't resist !
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post #6 of 8 Old 12-09-2012, 11:46 PM
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Brandon, Manitoba Canada
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Originally Posted by Pattilou View Post
Let's see winter riding in San Diego, Ca .... we can barely ride from Dec-March it literally is 65 degrees

Sorry couldn't resist !
HAHAHA well where we are it gets to like -30C=-22F, I don't ride then but if I had a indoor I would.....we've had a weird winter so far, freezing rain! So it's not safe to go out riding but the temps had been good....-14C=7F which isn't bad so long as there isn't much wind.....

My horses are the joy in my life.....
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post #7 of 8 Old 12-09-2012, 11:53 PM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: San Diego
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Originally Posted by Thunderspark View Post
like -30C=-22F,
I would be one frozen human Popsicle
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post #8 of 8 Old 12-10-2012, 12:24 AM
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: BC
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I used to live in AB, and my horse lived outside all the time. Nothing beats fresh snow and a sunny morning ride!
Not sure about outdoor arenas, but depending on the footing, the ground will get a lot harder. Most of the outdoor arenas I knew of were dormant during winter. But you can still trail ride!

For trails:
- Ride trails you are familiar with, or well used. Snow covers many hazards, there can be ice, rocks, holes in places you can't see.
- Be aware that snow can build up in your horses hooves as you ride snowy trails. If you have to cross a road to get back this can be tough for your horse to negotiate with snowballs in their feet.
- Use a bit warmer, or go bitless/halter.

For you:
- If you can't fit a toque under your helmet, use ski helmet ear covers! The little triangle foam flaps keep your ears warm, and the straps fit through just like the ski helmet.
- I love the fleece mittens that have the little flap for the top of your fingers.

Kind of got more general than just outdoor arena maintenance. Riding in winter is possible and fun, it just takes a little bit more prep time. As for too cold, that's really a matter of preference. I'd rather be out in -15 if the sun is shining than if it is only -5 but gray and blustery.
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outdoor arena maintenance , winter riding

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