I am one of those sensitive types, who babies her horses too much. (I would NEVER even ATTEMPT a GM clinic, for example. ) I rode my horse through the snow recently, and was so worried he would hurt himself in it. I would like to hear from others as to thoughts on riding through more than 6 inches (or so) of snow. Thanks!
We run a small rescue in central IL -- you can imagine we get SNOW here.
I currently am working on muscle strength for an 8yo qh-type mare. She has negative topline (I swear!), was in bad fitting tack, and had minimal exercise at her former home.
We are doing a lot of ground work, short ground driving lessons, etc. I asked my vet and got her permission to do VERY VERY VERY short 'works' in the deeper snow (about 8-10" i would guestimate). do our usual warm up and put her in the lines in the indoor round pen, then drive her out of the barn and into the large outdoor. do very easy, very large ovals into and out of teh deeper snow (drifts means half the space i was using had less than 2" of snow; the deepest spot was closer to 9") -- simply walked it the first 3 or 4 days; then did short easy jogs through it, then starting doing transitions inside the deeper snow. again, this snow workout' was no more than 5 minutes max at the time. it seemed to do wonders for her fitness and her top line in a reasonably short time period (then th snow melted, and now she's going on to a new home). My vet is also a chiro, and she confirmed the mare was building the right tone for me and that we weren't risking injuring anything with these simple, brief workouts.
AnnMarie Cross, Pres, Crosswinds Equine Rescue, cwer.org
Sidell IL (near Champ./UofI/Danville IL/IN state border)
Thanks for that information! I would say that our snow is no less than 8/9" in any given spot. We walked in it (down a hill) for maybe 10 minutes, and I could tell he was working HARD-he was huffing. He has PSSM and is so rigid, so I thought it might be good to get him using his muscles a bit more freely. I was a little worried about what may be underneath. I know the footing without snow, but we have had many storms during which the snow melts and freezes again, so in terms of "crunchiness" under snow--I don't know. Thanks, again!
yes, I realized today(took awhile) that my walking/trudging thru the snow is like walking in the soft sand at the beach...it can get to be a workout.
No wonder it tires me out.
in response to the op. When I was a kid, we would ride my horse in the snow that went up to his belly. That was in CNY where snow is powder, or at least it was when I was a kid. Yes, it was a workout for him, but I probably weighed no more than 75 pounds bareback.
I don't ride up here in NH in winter, mostly because it is hard packed or icy. This winter it is great, but I am older and don't care to be out in it, maybe in march when the sun gets stronger.
It makes them work, so I wouldn't overdo it, but I also think sometimes, especially the younger ones really like it.
Last year when we had the surprise 2+ft of snow dumped on us, which refused to melt for months, I was convinced I'd get no ride time in.
But after watching the horses romp through it, I decided popping on Laddie bareback and having him carry me through the drifts to check fences and make sure no new trees had come down was the better option. We just walked, no trotting.
Owned by a Paint/TB and an OTTB.
RIP Scoutin' For Trouble ~ 2011 at 10
RIP Tasha's Last Tango ~ 2010 at ~23
RIP In Sha' Allah ~ 2009 too young at 5
I agree that it really depends on the type of snow. Light and fluffy = great ride. Heavy and sticky = much harder on the horse.
Use common sense!
My horse (Ottb) loves light and fluffy snow. It makes for wonderful trots and canters! It really transforms her into a little WB. Lots of suspension and reach! I tend to keep our rides short and easy at first, because it is quite a workout for her.
Make sure also that the snow does not ball up under your horse's feet as it could strain ankles and tendons.
We used to ride up Moscow Mountain (Idaho) for conditioning in the winter - the snow was belly-deep, and the horses (so long as in decent shape to begin with) did just fine. Snow that deep is a heckuva a workout for the RIDERS, too!
In NH, I didn't think twice about doing normal riding in powdery snow up to a foot or so deep (again, with horses who were in shape to start with), so long as there wasn't ice underneath. If it was crunchier stuff that the horses had to break through, we pretty much only walked.
My horses were always barefoot or with snow pads, to minimize any snowballs in their feet.
We used to ride up Moscow Mountain (Idaho) for conditioning in the winter - the snow was belly-deep, and the horses (so long as in decent shape to begin with) did just fine. Snow that deep is a heckuva a workout for the RIDERS, too!.
You rode your horses up a mountain in snow 3 foot deep? Yikes, poor horses.
Snow + Horses = Fun. We actually broke trails through 3-4 feet of snow with clydesdales because even the tractor couldn't make it. We called them our SUV's..."Scottish Utility Vehicles"
You do have to pay attention to how hard they are working. It's not easy, and I highly recommend you walk through the snow first to see how much effort it takes. But fencelines got rode & worked, grain got dragged around, and tools and supplies went from one place to another largely because a clydesdale had trammelled down the path.
And of course, I got dragged around on a sled once too :=) First time at 40... sure was fun Snow Dolphin also great fun...
I would like to hear from others as to thoughts on riding through more than 6 inches (or so) of snow. Thanks!
I am in CT and I frequently ride in the snow when it's 12 inches or under. I am actually usually able to do a more significant ride w,t,c in the snow than without cause I refuse to ride my horse at more than the walk on rock hard ground. My horse seems to have no problem in snow about that depth or less and happily trots and canters. We were having a blast up until we had a giant snow storm 2 weeks ago.
Right now though we have about 2 ft and due to a rain/sleet mixture that fell on top of the snow it's just too thick and heavy to safely ride through I feel. My horse is nearing 20 and I just don't think it's worth the risk. I have never ridden him in snow this deep and I don't intend on starting now. He's been on vacation the last few weeks .
We love the snow - because it gives us the opportunity to stop be "hunter princesses" and go out with the horses and enjoy!
We walk/trot/canter through it - as long as it is "fluffy" and the chance of ice underneath is small. The day after christmas this year dumped closed to 3 feet on us. We couldn't ride for a day or two after the snow because the wind was BRUTAL, but as soon as the wind died down, we all hopped on over the blankets, and enjoyed ourselves!
I rode one time after a blustery day (I think that's what Winnie the Pooh called it): some areas the snow was blown away from the surface, only to pile in huge drifts in others.
So the horse being a goof, instead of staying in the cleared spots he spooks of and we end up in belly high drifts
never knew how it felt to ride a Passage...
Expect a bit more energy the first snow out, but 6 inches of snow would not worry me at all.
Originally Posted by Bristol Bay
Try setting your broomstick to fly at a lower altitude.
We did a trail ride last week through about 18-24 inches of snow. It was a blast! Mostly walking, but I did get to feel a little passage action. We ended up coming back via the road, though, because my DH's poor little Appy was plumb tuckered out. Her legs are so short, and she doesn't have a lot of stamina to begin with... so it was good that we had an "out" and she didn't have to slog back through the snow again.
After last years 3' we haven't had any snow to speak of this year.
Last year-we rode in the snow @ walk short outings-all horses from 17.2 who was a little over knee deep to 11.2 @ closer to chest level.
All horses came out in spring in the BEST condition ever-even receiving multiple best conditioned awards.
Plus the added bonus of-"cold hosing" w/o the water.
This year-horses ridden daily just under 4"
Know the footing and snow type-it's fun.
Birmingham area, AL... i.e. crispy crunchy everything land!
I'm not a snow person, plus I live in AL so even when it does snow I don't get out in it. Our snow always ends up being kind of wet and if it sticks around long enough, it usually freezes. All these other posts make it sound like snow is so much fun elsewhere! We just have sucky snow. I would just be careful around ice, and maybe around snow that's too heavy/hard to get through. I generally avoid really deep footing like deep sand footing because I worry about one of mine pulling something if they're not used to it. Doesn't always happen, but it could happen. My gaited mare hates to show on sand and it makes her move rather roughly. I always worry about her pulling something in deep sand because of how she moves differently by shuffling her back feet in order to gait. Not sure if the kind of snow you guys have would cause that kind of problem, maybe you're lucky and it's easier to move through or your ponies are just really used to it. Just be careful and watch for spots where you know there are holes when you've seen the turf without snow!
When life throws you lemons, put on your best Asian accent and scream "Faaack yuuuu Rehmooohns!" (says yours truly, the half-Japanese kid )
I got to ride in the snow for the very first time this year. We had so much fun! It was probably a foot or two deep in drifts, grass showing at the tops of the hills. The Princess had a lovely time out walking with her WB boyfriend. All we did was walk, since we couldn't see the footing and pushing through the snow was a workout for the both of them. They were puffing a bit and had a touch of sweat afterward. It was actually nice when the TB hadn't been out of the arena in awhile since she got tired without airs above the ground or other antics.
I can't do that now, since we had an ice storm followed by another six inches of snow that melted and refroze. It's all ice out there with layers of hard snow sandwiched in-between. That, and the drifts have gotten big enough that we can't walk alongside the road (no room) or find the gap in the stone wall to get into the hayfield. It's just ridiculous amounts of snow piled everywhere.
I'm not a snow person, plus I live in AL so even when it does snow I don't get out in it. Our snow always ends up being kind of wet and if it sticks around long enough, it usually freezes. All these other posts make it sound like snow is so much fun elsewhere! We just have sucky snow. I would just be careful around ice, and maybe around snow that's too heavy/hard to get through.
Yeah, the crap we had this year is no good. Looks pretty, but no good to get out in.
Originally Posted by Bristol Bay
Try setting your broomstick to fly at a lower altitude.