View Full Version : Cold weather/dicey footing/tendons?

gully's pilot
Dec. 17, 2009, 05:00 PM
OK, we've been hit in the past few weeks with darn near everything the weather gods could find, and I'm starting to feel a little frustrated. I'm heading down to Ocala for a week January 5th, and going to the horse trial, so I need to keep Gully moving (though he's in pretty good shape). Today the only time I had for riding was 8 to 9 am, and it was COLD, when I took Gully's blanket (he's body-clipped) off to tack up he started shivering. I threw a quarter sheet over his butt but it didn't seem to help.

With a heavy frost everywhere, and a layer of frozen ground over not-frozen ground, working in the fields was out of the question. The ring footing, however, was pretty seriously frozen--it too was quite wet before freezing. Gully shivered and the wind blew hard, and honestly, it was just miserable.

At what point between cold and bad footing am I better off just leaving him alone? Opinions? If it had been after January I wouldn't have tried to ride today; as it was, we didn't stay out long or accomplish much.

Tomorrow's forecast: freezing rain, then 6 to 10 inches of snow.

Dec. 17, 2009, 05:08 PM
A miserable horse isn't going to give you a good ride, ever. I'd just put him away, hand-walk, or just hack on the buckle on the best surface you can find. A week off isn't going to make a fit horse lose significant condition, but an injury due to bad footing sure could.

I will choose to not ride 99 times out of 100 if the footing is bad enough for me to think "this is a bad idea". The 1 time out of 100 was at a HT this fall, where I went out thinking I'd pull up if things were iffy, only to have my horse do it for me when she skidded six feet into a fence simply by me picking her up a few strides out. :no:

gully's pilot
Dec. 17, 2009, 08:02 PM
Thanks, Deltawave, I appreciate your input; I feel like you and I often see eye to eye on things. I'm a bit frazzled today, between the novel revision that's due the end of January, the horse trial, Christmas, the weather....orthodonist appointments, dirty tack, you get the idea.

Dec. 17, 2009, 08:27 PM
Gully when it's crappy you gotta pick the best time of day to ride and you know you can ride him in a blanket! Just hop on bareback and knock around. It doesn't matter that you didn't school for the horse trial, just as long as you are moving it will work fine. If all you have is frozen footing then walk and make sure you do a lot with the walk and try edges of the fields too. Keep him moving and don't take the blanket off, work him right in it. I have a water proof quarter sheet with a fleece lining AND I have one of those little fleece throws for the couches,- and I use both and anchor under the saddle, that's pretty warm.
Don't be miserable. You get to go to FLORIDA and event! Bettern' me!

Dec. 17, 2009, 08:44 PM
I suffer through the winter every year, getting my horse fit enough to compete at intermediate. I am fortunate to keep my horse at the barn where I work, and can be somewhat flexible about when I ride. This helps greatly to take advantage of the best weather/footing possible.

Unless it is very cold (below 30) and cloudy, my arena is unfrozen by the afternoon, so that's when I do most of my riding. On days when it remains frozen concrete, I ride in the thick grassy field. When the field is too frozen, we just hack.

I am VERY careful about my footing maintenance, as well. I do *not* ride in the grassy field when it's wet-- I don't want to make mud divots that freeze into a moonscape. The field is somewhat rideable (carefully) when lightly frozen, so long as I keep the ground flat and even. I also drag my arena frequently after riding, again to prevent moonscape, to help drainage, and for more consistent thawing.

When my horse is clipped, I use a quarter sheet below 40 if she won't work hard enough to stay warm. (Above 40 if it's very damp/windy). If it's so cold (20s) that we're barely able to hack, I'll use two quarter sheets; one newmarket wool, and one velcro polar fleece on top. If it's one of "Those Days" where it's so miserable you just lack all motivation (and desire to change out of *your* 6 layers and snowboots!), I'll do the quick bareback hack on top of the blanket.

Maybe I'm just really tough, but I've learned to co-exist with a moderate winter. Here in KY, the snow melts within 3 days and it's never bitter cold (below 30) for more than a week straight. If it gets really inconvenient, I'll trailer to an indoor to jump. But most of the time, I'm able to make it work. :) It takes a lot of weather-watching and adaptability, but it can be done.

Dec. 17, 2009, 08:57 PM
AJ, I hate to break it to you, but if you call temps below 30 "very cold", you're not "really tough". :) :) :) Up here, below 30 is sweatshirt weather! ;)

Dec. 17, 2009, 09:42 PM
AJ, I hate to break it to you, but if you call temps below 30 "very cold", you're not "really tough". :) :) :) Up here, below 30 is sweatshirt weather! ;)

Hehe, I don't consider it "very cold" but most of the locals around here do! (I guess that's why they go to FL, ;))

Growing up in Chicago, I'm used to winters where it snows in Dec and doesn't melt until April, and you're lucky if it breaks 40 twice. Here, we get random days in the 50s twice a month. I love it!

But also, up north everyone has indoor arenas. Here, not so much.

And also snowplows. I do miss a properly-equipped govt transportation department when we do get a few flurries. Roads are horrendous and local drivers are worse. With an inch+, you'd think the world is coming to an end (creeping at 10mph) on the way to Walmart to buy out all the tp, bread, and milk. :winkgrin:

gully's pilot
Dec. 17, 2009, 10:01 PM
I'd love to be able to pick the time of day when I ride--it got pretty nice in the afternoon here--but some days, between my work and my children's schedules, it's just not possible. But I honestly never thought of riding him in a blanket--I have a nice lightweight fleece that would work well.

This is only the second year I've ever clipped and blanketed, and I'm still getting used to it.

Believe me, I'm not miserable about going to Florida--I'm THRILLED. :)