16 Degrees

horses-nuzzle-winter
Living in the middle of the US, we get some frickin’ cold weather in the winter. Usually accompanied with slick, nasty, ice storms. Yay us. When O and I had our fabulous ride this week it was in the high 40’s with little to no wind. The next day we get this horrible northern wind and the temp plumets to highs in the teens.

Urgh.

Because of this sadly predictable weather we have a rule where I ride. If it is below 25, or the wind chill/”feels like” temperature is below 25 no one should be riding unless it is otherwise cleared by one of the trainers (rings are safe, someone is around, etc.). So O only got 3 of her planned workouts this week, but it really can’t be avoided.
alvie-snow

In the spirit of living in a place where the winters can be really hard on your riding, I thought I’d post some tips about winter riding to keep in mind!

1. Layers are the best way to handle riding in the winter, as you can take off and put on with ease. Since I ride in a helmets only environment I tend to stick to quarter zips, or zip up jackets and coats so I don’t have to take off my helmet a dozen times.

2. If you horse is used to being stalled or wearing a cozy blanket, be kind and throw on a quarter sheet or rug while you warm up. It’s just another way to ease them into the workout. And I think they look cool.

3. Be wary of many winter boots, they can be especially large around the toe and could wedge in your stirrups. Dangerous stuff.

4. If you have to retrieve your horse from outside consider taking a hoofpick with you! O and her buddies have to cross a concrete path, and lots of potentially icy spots, and if her feet are packed with snow it can be very slick for horses. I always have one just in case.
WinterHoofs
5. Warm up your bit as much as you can! You can check out the Diary of an Overanxious Horse Owner who has this great bit warmer pattern you can get off of Etsy.

6. I think it goes without saying, but make sure to adjust your stretches, warm-up, and cool down times!
winter-riding
I know many of you probably have tried and true dealing with winter tricks, but I thought I’d just throw mine out there! Feel free to share any of yours here! I’d love to hear!

15 thoughts on “16 Degrees

  1. I love the hoofpick idea! I won’t have need for it, but I never thought about it before 🙂 Also, I use a 3/4 sheet and love it – it’s not fair on my baby to go from toasty warm to completely naked when we ride!

    My biggest issue in the winter is keeping my feet warm. I can’t wear those thick boots, so instead I wear three layers of socks and keep moving to keep my toes active.

    • I usually love gloves, but the winter ones are so difficult to work with! I’ve heard there are some more “streamlined” winter gloves, but I haven’t really explored yet (mine are kind of big). As of now, I pretty much have to take all gloves off to tack up…the little buckles are hard with those on!!

  2. One other thing that is important to remember on a winter ride: dismount GENTLY. I remember many a ride during an Illinois winter where I got warm from posting, cantering and would take layers off and plop them on jump standards. My the end of my ride I would forget how hard frozen ground can be. If you jump off kind of quickly, the sensation of pain reverberates through your feet. When I would think of it, I would slowly inch my way down the side of the horse and touch ground carefully.

  3. It was 18 this morning, and I’m originally from Florida. Too cold for my blood! I keep my winter gloves and my bridle in the truck. I blast the heater on the way to the barn, so my bit and gloves are toasty by the time I get there.

  4. We still get some chilly weather here in Northern California- but nothing like the cold the rest of the country experiences!
    Even with our mild temps my EquiFit boots still get super stiff so my first order of business at the barn is sticking them under my jacket or sweater while I tack up so they’re warm and pliable for Polly!

  5. Good list, I hate cold and sadly Virginia still has cold weather. Not as long as the upper midwest, but still we get some bitter temps.

    These things are not cheap, unless you find the sales online at the end of the prior winter. I stocked up when these were on woot.com.

    Hotties, the whole foot inserts if it is going to be below freezing for my entire day at the barn. The 8 hour hand warmers inside my gloves, many days. I use them more often than the foot warmers.

    UnderArmor is pretty decent if you will be active. SmartWool is also pretty good.

    Lots of lotion, for some reason, well hydrated skin does seem to retain heat a little bit better, so I try to remember to lotion up my legs and arms before dressing in the morning.

  6. Pingback: Welcome to the December 2013 Blog Carnival of Horses | EQUINE Ink

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