When to ride
I am getting my first horse and live in Southern Illinois. We only get hard freezes for a week or two during the winter. And I don't have access to an indoor riding arena. My question is, what is different about riding in the winter? I understand the obvious of not riding when there is ice. And I'm not afraid of the cold. Thanks for your input!
I have my horse barefoot so that he doesn't get snowballs. I ride in any weather other than freezing rain and below zero windchills. When is it too cold to ride? Take a deep breath--does it hurt or make you cough? Don't ask you horse to work in that! I've ridden in 15 degrees and sun lots of times.
The biggest problem is getting that shaggy winter coat dry. I don't work Arrow too hard in the winter--mostly walking, and depending on the weather, rides are shorter--usually under an hour. If they do get sweaty, though, I can't recommend a fleece cooler highly enough--you can literally see the moisture beading on the surface as it wicks it off your horse.
The only thing really to be careful about is footing--not just ice, but frozen ruts. I've also found that fluffy new fallen snow is great--but if it's warming up and a big snow is melting so that it's all slushy and heavy...that's rather too much work for a horse, in my opinion.
Can't think of anything else right now, but if I do, I'll post again.
I live in Alabama, so our winters aren't bad at all... and I ride yearround anyway... I've never considered it much different than riding in summer, except that my mare get's uber hyper in winter and wants to go about bucking at a gallop all the time (lol, fun...*note the sarcasm*)... I ride her hard yearround too, and ride her til she's sweaty and steaming in winter... but you've just got to remember to cool them out properly and keep an eye on them.
It gets mighty cold and snowy up here. Not much slows me down with my girl though. I don't ride in ice of any kind though and I avoid any places where I noticed water in the fall, jic, unless I get off and check first. We have lots of little streams and such here so I have to pay attention. Deep snow, slush, freezing or well, well below freezing all works for me. If it's windy, I'll stick to the bush 'cause it's warmer. If it's slushy I'll usually avoid roads because a passing car can kick it up. I often ride bareback in the winter to help stay warm. Good clothes and carry a firestarter just in case.
I come from a cold, wet part of Canada and many people ride year round. Make sure you dress appropriately, you warm your horse up, you avoid ice, and you cool him out properly. If he gets sweaty make sure you dry him off afterwards. There is no reason not to ride in the winter if you have an area that is free from ice!
i think the cold matters, but not so much as frozen ground...kind of hard to work on frozen ground!
This is what my friend in sweden say about riding in wintertime :P :
"Ice isn't really a problem as long as you have the right shoes and ''brodd'' small metal pieces put in the shoes to keep the horse from slipping. But of course canter isn't great on ice, but a slow trot works. The cold isn't a problem; if it's too cold for you to run, don't work the horse hard, and be careful if he shows any signs of discomfort. But horses handle cold better than we.
Cantering in deep snow is very good training for the horses muscles and fun too! Make sure thehorse is dry before you turn it out and if you've shaved him, use a riding blanket.
As long as you're careful if the horse gets unbalanced or slips, gets wet or shows signs of trouble breathing, there's nothing to worry about. :) "
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