By Lindsey Forkun, www.LFEquestrian.com
- Riding in the winter can be really fun. The powdery snow can be lovely footing for the horses to move through. On a nice sunny day the landscape can look like a winter wonderland.
You might have an indoor arena, so your footing stays the same but you can’t quite escape the cold. There are some things we should remember when riding our horses in the winter
Some Tips for Winter Riding
Warm Up Slowly: Horses need to adjust to the chilly weather and air. Warm up slowly so their lungs can adjust to the cold air, and so their muscles can warm up. Do a lot of walking and trotting before getting into canter or jumping.
Use a Cooler or Quarter Sheet: These are usually fleece or cotton blend blankets that your wears while you start riding. This helps to keep your horse’s muscles warm while you start to ride. Usually horses that wear blankets outside will wear quarter sheets when warming up and cooling down – this helps their muscles stay warm because they aren’t used to being fully exposed to the cold.
Check Your Horses Temperature/ Sweating: Causing your horse to sweat in the winter can be a really bad thing. Horses that are wet from sweat should not be put back outside wet into cold weather. Horses that are wet from sweat should not have blankets put on them – except for a cooler blanket which will help dry them. If you don’t have the time or means to get your horse dry after a ride, then make sure you keep the workout easy and avoid sweating.
Have a Long Cool Out: Cooling out horses is always important, but especially in winter make sure your horse has a long time stretch out their muscles at the walk.
Watch for the Footing: In the cold months the ground will freeze. Poop balls that used to mush under a horse’s hoof will become hard stones, and what used to be a path out to the forest could become an ice rink. Be careful to watch for footing both outdoors and inside.
Winter riding can be a lot of fun! Keep these tips in mind so your horse can stay warm and healthy!
Lindsey Forkun is dedicated to promoting positive partnerships through humane natural horsemanship for all equine disciplines. Free online advice, articles, and videos. Offering natural horsemanship products and services, learn more at www.LFEquestrian.com