-5 Farenheit, early November, probably 1997 or '98. We were to gather the herd and bring them in for dipping and vaccinating and were in the saddle before daylight. Fortunately, I think it warmed up to a balmy 40 degrees or so by the time we started dipping mid-day.
That morning, riding before dawn, was the coldest I've EVER been.
The coldest day I remember had a high of -15, wind chill not included! The beginning of January saw us mostly in upper teens, but wind chill kept the weather around -10. Thankfully, I can still ride in my western saddle while wearing sweatpants and long underwear underneath my carhart coveralls.
-25C is our cutoff. Heated indoor now, but the cutoff was the same when we were at a non-heated indoor.
It's been around -30 to -40 with windchill lately, so haven't been riding. It's not like I'm prepping the old man for anything special, so we can take our time. He's tucked up in his cozy, straw lined shelter.
Here in Va with no access to indoor, usually mid 30's. The farm where I board has a nice ring, but it is situated on the highest area of the farm, so wind chill is always a factor and also footing. If it is much lower than 35 the ring gets crunchy and I figure I ride for fun. Freezing my butt off(while a good weight loss plan) is not fun. When I was growing up, I lived in western NY, not far from Lake Erie. We would ride the horses bareback all the time in the snow. Who knows what the temps were, but we had a blast.
I rode the other AM when it was 13F. That is about my limit though- I had a hard time breathing and the poor horse had icicles hanging from his whiskers when we were done! I did a lot of walking bc MY muscles were so cold and tight I was having trouble posting the trot!
I'm super impressed with those of you who ride in the negatives!!
I'll ride in the indoor to about zero. I rode pretty hard Monday when it was about 5F. My gelding got a little sweaty on his shoulders, but we walked until he was mostly dry and then I put a cooler on and rubbed him down while he ate, then put his blanket back on. The barn is tiny and quite warm in the evenings with all the horses inside.
If I'm riding outside, it just depends on my lungs. I figure if it hurts my lungs, it hurts my horses lungs. Outside I generally take it easy and play around bareback.
we only do it when we have to. I don't think it's good for man or beast to be out working in it when it's less than 0* or so... it takes twice as long to cool the horses down and dry them out and feed them up and the wear and tear on our circulatory system isn't worth it either. My feet still freeze in an instant now b/c of frostbite on that hunting trip.
-39 A 15-20 min walking hack in the snow under a full moon in the late 1990s. It was something special!
These days I'll ride down to around -13F/-25C. Usually either my hands or feet get cold enough to make me quit. We work, not cantering for long periods, but some canter and trot. I've been doing it long enough that I have a bunch of tricks to keep my horse from getting sweat wet, and dry him off after. I'm actually at greater risk of getting sweat wet than he is because I tend not to notice I'm about to sweat in time to strip a layer off (concentrating too hard on the horse).
15 is my cutoff point as well, so no riding for the past few days. Think probably the coldest I've ridden has been around 10. Funny thing is my guy goes right back outside now that he has lived in the pasture for 8 months. No going in the run-in! And heaven forbid we keep them long in the indoor!
But the worst horse related cold situation was when I was in college at Oswego. I mention the location because if you know it, you'll get the picture.
I offered one evening to close up the barn. Caught a ride up there and had made arrangements with a sorority sister to pick me up - someone had borrowed my car. The temps were below 0. Loads of snow and horrific winds. You guessed it - sorority sister forgot until someone at the party we were throwing wondered where I was. And once the barn doors were locked, which I had done, you were locked out. I stood in the snow bank for well over an hour in just rubber boots, jeans and a jacket. That night I honestly thought I might freeze in the cold. Never did care for the twerp, and that didn't help things much!
But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all. H.C.Anderson
CVPeg -13F = -25C I don't ride at -25F very often!
I've found that in the colder temperatures (umm, say 15F and under) the horses don't get sweat wet because the sweat comes off as steam in the cold air. As long as you are moving at a trot or canter that steam blows away before the horse gets wet. In practical terms this means that I don't do the typical w/t/c ride. I walk warm up, then a little trot and right to canter. Then back to trot, not walk because the trot speed both allows the horse to cool off from cantering and keeps the sweat steam blowing away. Leaving the horse much cooler for the final walk cool.
Next trick is to work in short bursts of maybe ten minutes, then walk 2-3 minutes, then another burst, then walk, and so on. The walks allow for cooling off before the horse gets too hot from trot and canter. For me they are working walks - lateral work, transitions and whatnot, but not stressful mentally because I don't want a brain sweat either.
With the sweat turning to steam in the cold air, the horse actually tends to get really wet after the trot and canter is finished, during the final walk cool. What's really happening is the steam is coming through the hair and condensing on the tips of the hair when it hits the cold air. It does have to be cold for this trick to work - it won't work in a warm barn. The trick is to put a light cooler on the horse as soon as you come back to walk that last time. I had a 5' square fleece throw that I draped over my horse's neck and shoulders. The idea is to get the steam to condense on the outside of the cooler instead of the horse's hair - so a loose flapping cooler isn't going to work if the cold air is getting underneath. I actually don't use this trick much any more, but it was great when I took a weekly jumping lesson because I couldn't use the other tricks.
I do a sort of trace clip, but I leave the belly hair unclipped since he lives outside, and the belly is a low sweat area. Any time his belly has been wet it's all been sweat condensing on the hair tips and he's been dry near his skin. The only reason we have the belly clipped in the traditional trace clip is because those clips were meant for working harness horses who had to deal with the winter muddy roads. Where I live the ground freezes and I'm working in a dry arena anyway so I don't have to worry about wet mud kicked up all over my horse's belly. Having the clipped areas allow for more heat to escape, keeping the horse cooler. I don't clip a lot of the neck - just a bit past the jugular groove. It's at the jugular behind the cheek, and maybe 4-6" at the shoulder with a straight line in between - I can't see the clipped part of his neck from the saddle unless I lean over to the side. I check the long hair on his neck around where the reins cross, and the long hair on his shoulders to see when he's getting warm. The shoulder hair flattens and then gets a bit slick looking (it's not wet, that's just the best way to describe it) and then the hair starts to change direction (point more forward than back and it loses the slick look). The neck hair where the reins cross is the first place that gets damp. So as soon as I see these signs of impending sweat I know it's time for a little walk break (or back to trot if we're cantering).
I have used these tricks in three different barns with their three different arenas. I've had to play with them to find out what works best for each situation. So give them a try and mess around to see what works for your horse and situation. Figure out what your horse looks like right before he gets wet from sweat and watch for those signs.
I'll ride into the upper teens especially if I'm desperate.
However this week the high was 14 a few days so the horses had a few days off, all they do is snort and move sideways and I can't feel my toes so what's the point? I was excited to ride today since it was 24 but it's going to hit 60 Tuesday and by the time I got done bashing ice out of buckets I wasn't keen on riding.
Not below 10, and we don't work when it's below 20. I'll walk and a little trot, especially if turnout is restricted, but keep it very short. Frankly, if it's much below 20, I feel bad taking rugs off, even though I suspect Mr. Preparing For Antarctica would not care.
"I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
- Harry Dresden
-10 degrees, on a search and rescue ride for a suicidal dude who left a note and went out in the northwoods to OD on pills. The sheriff's dept. team couldn't get any further following him on snowmobiles due to the density of the brush and depth of snow, so I volunteered. We did find the guy and got him out safely, but dang, it was cold!