How cold is too cold to ride? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 08-23-2011, 11:53 AM Thread Starter
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How cold is too cold to ride?

In our part of the world we frequently get to minus 20 and occasionally even colder. How cold is dangerous(for a horse)? I hunt mt lion and plan on hunting with horses in the winter. All of my horses came from this area so they are used to the cold. What about special feed or gear?

This, too, shall pass........
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post #2 of 22 Old 08-23-2011, 12:21 PM
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I wouldn't be too concerned about the cold issue. The horses would be exposed to the back at the barn as well, but the feed issue. Assuming that you'll be packing in you'd have to take tons of extra feed just to keep them going. That and if it's that cold what about the depth of the snow?

Lot's of logistics to work out but sounds kind of nifty. Good luck!

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post #3 of 22 Old 08-23-2011, 12:39 PM
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Well, since horses live outdoors all year long no matter the temperature (or else they're supposed to, anyway) i think as long as you can handle it there should be no problems.
If the snow is really deep & you're travelling for long distances, the horse will have to work harder, meaning his body will warm up but be will also sweat more, so make sure you have some sort of thick cooler to keep him from getting chilled when you take the saddle off. When you do eventually stop, loosen up the cinch but leave the saddle on for a good hour to allow some of the sweat underneath to dry without freezing.

You will want extra, good feed since horses burn off more energy just standing around in the winter than in the summer, let alone working. "Hot" feeds are always nice for them when it's cold, such as oats, barley, etc...
Though horses will eat snow to keep hydrated, water is good to have on hand. If you're really roughing it you could boil some over a fire, just to melt it.

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post #4 of 22 Old 08-23-2011, 12:39 PM
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Lets put it this way, if you can put up with the cold they can too.

I'm going to assume you are setting up a base camp and packing in supplies. If not, you might not be able to haul in enough supplies. Horses burn a lot of calories staying warm in cold winter weather. Think about taking a good winter blanket for them also, that will help.
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post #5 of 22 Old 08-23-2011, 01:00 PM Thread Starter
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We'd have a truck accessible camp set up for feed. I was mostly concerned with caloric intake and worried about them sweating and getting too cold afterwards. I guess the blankets would work for that. I won't hunt in too deep of snow. The lions follow the deer and they move pretty low in the winter. It does make me wonder. How deep is to deep to ride?

This, too, shall pass........
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post #6 of 22 Old 08-23-2011, 09:22 PM
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To deep is subjective to the horse, what will they push through?

Biggest problem with snow is you can't see the hazards covered by it so I personally wont ride in anything over 6" unless I absolutely know the route.
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post #7 of 22 Old 08-23-2011, 10:31 PM
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For temperature -- I agree if you can do, so can the horse. As for the sweating, a good rub down leaving you with sore arms will certainly help. And keep the horses out of the wind. Maybe get the horse used to a vertical tarp so they will be comfortable using that as a windblock in the bush.

I personally wouldn't blanket, unless I couldn't get the horse reasonably dry. If concerned I would leave a blanket on for the absolute minimum time and definitely not overnight.

As for too deep? Well if the horse will go, do it, but do be aware that as mentioned that you can't see through it. I have gone on rides with snow so deep that my feet are dragging in it. But the deeper the snow, the harder the work -- more calories, more sweat.

I would want to make sure I can get water on the trail. Check your maps. Winter is very dry and while the horses will eat snow, it uses up far too many calories for the amount of hydration benefit they get.
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post #8 of 22 Old 08-25-2011, 09:52 AM
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I know what your weather is like. I ride year ride.

My horses will roll immediately after I take the saddle off. In our dry powdery snow that helps to dry their hair off.

If you are staying in a camp (vs coming back home) some sort of blanket maybe in order to help them get dry. Above 10-20* I would worry about it. I pack in Elk hunting and have left my horses tied to high lines all night after a hard day on the mountain. Of course Oct isn't as cold as Jan, But I do frequently see Teens at night in Oct. I pack in lots of feed and give it to the horses. They eat grass hay at home, But almost all certified hay in Utah is Alfalfa, So they get the richer stuff while up hunting.

The deeper the snow the harder they have to work. As mention knowing what is under the snow is the big problem. Up to about knee deep, is do able. I start getting nervous in anything deeper. Also if I am traveling through really rough terrain, steep hills or with much blow down. Out in the flat open, I will push thru the deeper snow. In the timber with the blow down pick up sticks, I worry about them getting their legs tangled.

I personally don't like getting out much below 10* . I've skied in below 0* temps, But I'm working hard and not just sitting in a saddle. You folks in the Uinta Basin, are a little more hardy than I. You are used to that cold. I bet your horses REALLY get wooley.

Have Fun

Last edited by Painted Horse; 08-25-2011 at 09:57 AM.
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post #9 of 22 Old 08-25-2011, 10:43 PM
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Guys, I would love to come do some hunting with you!!! I have hunted Sika deer in the snow in the Kaimanawa's of our North Island and Thar and Chamois in the Southern Alps of the South Island. BUT to be able to combine horses, snow and hunting would be so frikken AWESOME! I get plenty of of hunting with the horse where we are but all I have to worry about is how deep the mud gets and whats left of the tracks after that last big rain. I love snow with the passion of someone who very rarely gets to experience it lol!

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.D Adams

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post #10 of 22 Old 08-26-2011, 10:22 AM Thread Starter
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Kiwigirl, I love the quote in your signature.

Painted horse, are those elk in the book cliffs? Looks like to much pinion and sage to be around civilization. LOL.

Nothernmama, why wouldn't you use a blanket?

Does anyone have a good picture of a highline? I don't really think the hobbles would be best for the area I am in.

I appreciate all of the input. I figured the cold wouldn't really be an issue. We have wild horses in places I hunt and they don't leave the deep snow like the deer and elk do. I've found them in belly deep snow, just hangin' out.

This, too, shall pass........
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