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Discussion Starter #1
For those adventurous trail riders that continue to ride in the winter snow, how deep is too deep for you?

My trails are not packed down by snowmobilers, so who knows whats under 15 to 24" of snow on the trails? But the fields are there, also with up to 24" of snow.

So, to get my horses back into shape, I'd like to ride them in the field. Is it too deep do you think? Will be at a walk of course until they are in better condition, but then some trotting.

Is this too deep? It's been a while since I've ridden in the winter, and this snow is heavy , not powdery.

Look forward to any incite you can share. Thanks.
 

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Walking in 24" probably isn't too bad. But if you'd want to trot and canter, I would expect it just to be a small trot or canter. Say if your horse normally goes on the bit and works on the hind end, it most likely won't be as good as that. An idea would be to walk and trot a single circle in one area, and keep riding on the circle until all of the snow is packed down. This is what I did in the outdoor at my old barn when too many people were using the indoor. I hope this helps!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yes, that's what I thought also, walking until a "path" is cut well. They are not ready imo to start trotting as they have had a good spell of time off (since November).

I have hills in the fields too, so a little hill therapy at a walk should fit nicely I think?
 

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If my horse is willing and able, we go. I have ridden in snow so deep that my feet are dragging in it when on my 14.3 h girl. It does depend on the snow though. If it it troo crusty, I will avoid it as it can cut. If I didn't go out in two feet of snow, I'd spend a lot of the winter not riding.
 

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if its too deep your horse will probably tell you. i ride my boy in snow up to his chest & he does just fine at the walk. also if its crusty or icy i dont ride on it over a walk.
 

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Do you have a 55 gallon drum you can fill with water? Can you get one? This is an easy way to make a good riding path. Just fill it up with water and roll through the field in whatever area and shape you want. Make a few passes to get it really packed. You can just do one circle or several connected if you like. It takes a little sweat and time, but the end product is a nice packed path you can ride on that will stay until it snows again and continue to pack tighter and firmer as you ride on it... It is what I used to do in our pasture in the winter, I don't like riding in too much loose snow...
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Interesting HS. I suppose I could also use my snowshoes (kill 2 birds you know) and make a path. Like that idea. Thanks.

Now I just need some free time. Wednesday is looking good, weather providing (refuse to ride in freezing rain).

Gypsygirl and NorthernMama, I agree about that crust. But as Honeysuga suggested, I could use something (in my case my snow shoes) and break through the crust. Anxious to try. Got some nice new undersilks thermal wear, can't wait to try them!
 

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Yup, just make sure to go over it very well in your snow shoes so you don't leave any jagged little peaks or anything and you should be all good.
 

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Gypsygirl and NorthernMama, I agree about that crust. But as Honeysuga suggested, I could use something (in my case my snow shoes) and break through the crust. Anxious to try. Got some nice new undersilks thermal wear, can't wait to try them!
Snowshoes will not break a crust that horses hooves will. There is a whole lot more PSI on a hoof than a snowshoe -- remember that's the purpose of snowshoes: to stay ON TOP of the snow, not to make a path.

If Honeysuga has the energy and time to make a path by rolling a 45 gallon drum, all the power to her, but man, that would take some doing! Far easier to do with the horse and much more fun. If there is a crust, see if a snowmobiler will go over it for you instead.
 

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We normally don't have tons of snow (funny every time I try to type snow it comes out snot)
This year its come early and seems to be sticking around. Normally it snows then melts. Its the melt in between that keeps us off normally. It will turn to a layer of ice under the snow. Either that or we get straight ice. This is the first year I recall having deep drifts. Our girls did fine although they did have a hard time when it got belly deep. I guess that would be 2.5-3'
Its me who doesn't like the snow :lol: If its a soft fluffy snow, I'm ready to go ride through it. If its cold blowing, icy or slushy snow, I'll take my hot chocolate now. :lol:
 

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Snowshoes will not break a crust that horses hooves will. There is a whole lot more PSI on a hoof than a snowshoe -- remember that's the purpose of snowshoes: to stay ON TOP of the snow, not to make a path.

If Honeysuga has the energy and time to make a path by rolling a 45 gallon drum, all the power to her, but man, that would take some doing! Far easier to do with the horse and much more fun. If there is a crust, see if a snowmobiler will go over it for you instead.
Snowshoes will do an adequate job of packing it sown if you walk heavily enough across it. And if you break the crust with your shoed, you do not have to worry about the horse breaking it, it is already gone. Also it does not much energy at all to roll a drum filled with water... you are just rolling it after all, and IMO a hour or so of good exersize anyway. What is one hour of rolling a drum to being able to have a nice packed trail to ride on for weeks, weather permitting....
 

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Snowshoes will do an adequate job of packing it sown if you walk heavily enough across it. And if you break the crust with your shoed, you do not have to worry about the horse breaking it, it is already gone.
Either you have to be wearing snowshoes that are far too small for your weight or you have different snow down there. I can walk across 1 foot of loose snow, sinking only 2", with snowshoes on -- how is that supposed to break a 1" crust??? Answer: it won't. At least not our Ontario snow and our Ontario snowshoes. I remember as kids having little competitions to see how many times we had to jump to break through the snow with our s.shoes on. Conversely, we'd see how far we could walk without breaking through without the shoes on! 'Course we only weighed about 70 lbs. :lol: Horses will definitely break through a crust that snowshoes won't touch. Being very generous with my calculations, I figured out a horse will exert about 20 psi with each step, while a heavy person on snowshoes might exert 1 psi.


Also it does not much energy at all to roll a drum filled with water... you are just rolling it after all, and IMO a hour or so of good exersize anyway. What is one hour of rolling a drum to being able to have a nice packed trail to ride on for weeks, weather permitting....
You're a good soul to roll a drum for an hour to ride on a trail for 10 minutes. I'm too lazy for that. Especially, since as you say, the weather doesn't always co-operate. I wish I had ambition like that -- imagine what I could accomplish! And I'm not being sarcastic -- honestly, I admire all the people on here that have so much get-up-and-go to do things like that.

To Walkamile: either way you deal with a crust on or in the snow, I think we all agree that the drawbacks to snow are mainly not knowing what is underneath and being aware of those nasty crusts. And, as you say, walking until your horse is in shape is a very good idea.
 

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When we actually used to get snow here, I would ride regardless of how deep it was. Sometimes it got interesting to weave and pick my way around the drifts that were way too deep. I didn't much care for riding too long if it was much above their knees cause most of mine get into terrible shape during the winter and it would have been rough on them. I think the plan you already have would work well, walk until you kinda get the snow knocked down and your horse gets into better shape. Can you send some snow down my way? It has been too many years since I have had the opportunity to ride in some real snow.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
LOL! Okay smrobs, I have spoken with "the powers that be" (not that I have a lot of pull there), and have agreed to give up all the remaining snow we were suppose to receive this winter and have it sent to you!

I think I will try the snowshoes first (because I'm basically lazy) and if that doesn't break the crust adequately, than I will just walk through it and hopefully that will work. Wednesday looks fairly warm, I have it off, so that will be my plan.

I'm thinking of riding up and down my pasture hills and making a nice big oval with a crossing through to change directions and keep things interesting. I'll start with 15 to 20 mins of good working walk, and go from there. Would love to have both horses in trail shape by spring. I'd be so far ahead of schedule that would be wonderful.

Thanks everyone that answered, you gave me much to consider and good workable solutions. If anyone has anything else they'd like to share or suggest, please do. I am always open to more. :wink:
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Yes, I do agree that a good working walk is very beneficial in getting a horse back into condition. I have a couple of very nice hills in the field that will add to the workout, still at a walk.

I remember the BO where T and Walka came from always stressed the importance of a good working walk in keeping her horses in condition.

Once they are showing me that more can be asked, and it will be a little while I'm sure, I'll add a little trotting here and there. I do take things slow with them, don't want to risk an injury. Slow and steady.

I'll be able to judge how strenuous because I'll be breaking the trail first! Don't want to ask them to do something I'm not willing or able to do myself! :lol:
 
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