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Riding in cold weather

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  • Riding in cold weather

    I have always been a cold weather rider. I prefer the cold to the heat. The plus side is no bugs, no crops in the fields and countless miles of snowmobile trails which are a groomed highway with perfect footing at times.
    I normally shave my horses to keep them running cool but in extreme temperature I leave a blanket on and put the saddle over it. I will open the chest once he starts to warm up.
    I will ride in -10 degree or so weather and even in heavy blowing snow because within a mile I can enter a bush and once in there the wind is gone. If that doesn't work I go down into the swamp and wander down there where NO winder ever gets.
    My preferred run is the open trail with slightly icy footing. This makes for perfect running and he leaves almost no track and can skim over the surface with minumum effort.
    I worried about his breathing, I was afraid all that cold air rushing into this lungs would damage him with frost bite so I took to wearing a took over his nose. I would tie it to his side pulls and he was breathing threw it so his breath would be warmed up but I found it restricted his breathing and he would start to puff after a few miles.
    I then called the vet who made a phone call for me to the university where they assured him that cold air did no damage to a horses airways.
    Since then I have not worried about the cold but I still keep the pace down in extremely cold weather.
    It can be zero out and still feel warm once out of the wind and if the sun is shining the pockets along the trail turn into sauna bathes
    If I wouldn't ride in cold weather I wouldn't ride at all for months and that won't do.
    I find right now, today, that running city streets in a bedroom community is the best footing. The streets are quiet, no pavement in site and a hard covering of plowed snow makes for great traction. I do run borium studs on all 4 shoes with snowball rim pads and it works for me.
    Dress properly,a face shield is a must and get out there and enjoy the bright clean snow.
    Happy holiday
    Norval

  • #2
    Norval, you're my hero!!

    I love the cold, but you've got me beat by quite a lot. Good for you!!!!
    If you cannot set a good example, at least serve as a terrible warning....

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by CanterQueen View Post
      Norval, you're my hero!!

      I love the cold, but you've got me beat by quite a lot. Good for you!!!!
      Thanks Canterqueen. I just can NOT sit still. I need to be on the go and come winter there is no yard work, yes snow to blow but I have a tractor and 20 minutes later I am back to having nothing to do. I am also really annal about training and I have HAVE to do something with Rio daily or I don't feel right. Right now I go out every day and just ride BECAUSE there is nothing else to do. I won't sit in front of the TV. I read about 2 hours a day but other then that I need to be on the go and Rio is my outlet.
      When the snowmobile trails are just right I head out on them every chance I get and you might find me 10-12 miles from home just loping along, well not Rio this year but in the past covering 20-25 miles at a laid back lope was the norm and he did this day after day.
      I do double the amount of grain right now for Rio since he is working daily in the snow but drop it back on days off in the new year.
      I am heading out at 1 today to take a new person on a town run on the streets. Lots of leg yeilds if that is what they are called while jogging along and alot of side passes up driveways and backing are in order today as is most days. That and good square halts.
      Bought 3 bussels of apples yesterday so my treat department is well covered over the holidays.
      I am lucky the university closes for 2 weeks so it is lots of riding.
      Poor Rio

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm with you Norval, I love winter riding. The horses seem happier without the sticky heat and bugs also. Sometimes they are downright miserable when it's 90 degrees in August and the biting fly swarms are large enough to carry you off to another continent. But winter does give the BEST riding.

        We have a lot of private woods and marshes we ride in, so we are well protected from the wind, but you're right, sometimes getting across a field is so windy and cold. Brrrrrr! But once you get back into the cover, you warm right up.

        http://www.hphoofcare.com/Legsout.jpg
        http://www.hphoofcare.com/Tubing%207.jpg

        You can't tell, but in this picture, the snow is 2 feet deep, and we kept a track packed down with the tractor that I rode around on in circles.
        http://www.hphoofcare.com/Monster%20March%2005.jpg

        This day it was below zero, and Sweets managed to take her blanket off then rip around all proud of herself that she did it:
        http://www.hphoofcare.com/Snow.jpg

        A shot of my driveway during a snowfall:
        http://www.hphoofcare.com/Driveway.jpg

        My horses are out in the pasture running around like loons when it's -10 zero so I figure if the cold air is going to hurt or damage their lungs, it would happen then too. One has lived up here for 18 years, the other for 12 years. The third one for 6 years. They seem to be doing just fine.

        Comment


        • #5
          The university might want to rethink that verdict:

          http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=5665

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Shadow14 View Post
            I am lucky the university closes for 2 weeks so it is lots of riding.
            Poor Rio
            You lucky dog! Do you guys have a lot of snow so far? We've been getting a fresh 6-8 inches or so every week. Heard on the radio this morning that we only had 2 inches to go before breaking a record, and we're supposed to get another 3-6" today, so that record is history!

            This was our snow fall map from last winter::
            http://www.crh.noaa.gov/images/mkx/p...8/0708snow.gif. Some areas of our state had over 10 feet of snow for the season.

            And this is what we have as of December 15th: http://www.aos.wisc.edu/~sco/clim-hi...ts-2008-09.gif. Looks like 35 inches already, and that doesn't include what we got in the last week!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Dad Said Not To View Post
              The university might want to rethink that verdict:

              http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=5665
              That article is 3 years old, and I've seen it before. They used Thoroughbred racehorses as the model for the study. Many race horses run on steroids, and/or lasix, and it's not know how that might have affected the results. Thoroughbred racehorses aren't generally bred for longevity and hardiness. They are bred for SPEED and SPEED alone. So comparing the air passes of a highly bred Thoroughbred might not be a good comparison to say a foundation bred Quarter Horse, or an old line Morgan, or an Arabian, or a Percheron, or a Hafflinger.

              Also they say that the horses were challenged with 5 minutes of cantering in "cold air", but they don't say exactly WHAT that temperature was. Could have been 30 degrees, could have been -1 degree, could have been -50 degrees. We don't know. How cold is "cold air?"

              Also the study stated that after exercising, the airways returned to normal, but they don't know how long it took since they didn't retest the horses for 2 full weeks. So - did it take the horse 9 days to recover? Did it take him 90 seconds to recover? Did it take 9 hours to recover? They don't say.

              Then they go on to say that they've done "similar" studies in sled dogs and it took 4 months for the dogs to recover. But....at what temperature, what duration, etc. were these sled dogs worked in? I had the VERY fortunate experience of visiting Alaska in 06 and spending a day at an Iditarod racing kennel. They have OLD dogs that are STILL racing - dogs that are 8-12 years old - that kind of old! These dogs are still racing and they are healthy and happy. These dogs are racing down the Yukon River in March when it's -50 below zero on their 1200 mile Iditarod trek. Yes, there are regular vet stops, yes the dogs are on VERY high energy diets, and yes, there are injuries or illnesses. But overall, these dogs go back and race year after year and they are just fine.

              These kennels breed these dogs for longevity and hardiness, and athletic ability. Dog racing is their bread and butter. They don't win prestigious dog sled races that carry $50,000 purses, by having dogs die of airway obstruction or infection after a single race. It takes generations to breed winning sled dogs, and to train them and develop them into winners. What would these kennels profit if their dogs died or were constantly sick from running in cold air? The company I work for sponsors 2 Iditarod racing teams, and I follow this sport very closely.

              So again - what were the details of this sled dog study? The Horse article does not say, so you can't derive a whole lot of info from it.

              Comment


              • #8
                I love to ride in the snow, and my mare definitely prefers the cooler weather over summer rides, but unfortunately around central IL, there is a lot of the time a layer of ice before any snowfall. It makes it rather dangerous to ride.

                But I do get out there whenever we get an occasional snow without ice. My mare loves to plow through the huge snow mounds that are formed when they plow the driveways and such. She kinda slams into them with her chest and decimates them, then walks away all proud of herself.
                Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  We have more snow now then we get in most entire winters. We set a record for the most snow before winter officially starts Dec21.
                  Yes A2 we have alot of snow and Rio and I were up to his belly in an open field Sunday afternoon and at times my feet brushed the snow but on the plus side this means the snowmobile trials will get packed, groomed and iced over sooner.

                  You have a beutiful place from the pictures and I envy you. I am a farmer at heart but hate to drive far so I live on the edge of the city and not on a farm. My wife suggested when Shadow was killed that we buy a farm and I thought about it for a few minutes and then said NO I will stay where I am and continue to board and be close to my work. I built my place, I have everything but a barn that I can keep my horse in but when I retire it might be another story.
                  A decent place here with say 5 acres with a nice house and grounds it about $650-$700,000 but that puts me another 10 miles out. Right now I am 6.6 miles house to parking lot and 15-20 miles I consider too far.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Dad Said Not To View Post
                    The university might want to rethink that verdict:

                    http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=5665
                    50 years of doing what I am doing has not harmed any of my horses so I will continue to do it that way.
                    Honestly come Sunday morning regardless of weather I can watch a hundred horse drawn vehicles pull into the church parking lot with alot of steaming horses who have travelled miles in the cold to bring their families to church.
                    Striders breathing after 17 years of running in the cold was still great.
                    So new studies can say what they want, experience shows I am not hurting my horse by riding in the cold.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17402479

                      http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=18496351

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Shadow14 View Post
                        So new studies can say what they want, experience shows I am not hurting my horse by riding in the cold.
                        Then why bother to rig something up to warm the air before he breathes it in? Why bother to call your vet and ask if you were so convinced that you were doing him no harm? I'm not saying that you're killing your horse and MUST STOP running him in the cold. I'm just confused by your seemingly contradictory beliefs.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Again - one of these studies doesn't even tell the temp the horses were worked at, or the duration. Another thing, is that minimal number of equines were studied. 8 horses, and 9 horses respectively. The conclusion of these studies was that exercise in cold air "may" predispose horses to lower airway infections, but in no place does the study say that these horses DID contract lower airway infections, or any type of malfunction or obstruction.

                          Further, the 2nd study worked the horses in -5C, which is 23F. Twenty three degrees is pretty darn balmy! if you live where I live! Boy, 23 degrees with no wind and sun, hot dog, that's PERFECT riding weather!

                          I think it boils down to plain ole' common sense. Would I gallop a horse for 30 minutes when it's -37 below zero? No. Would I do a nice easy trail ride when it's 5 degrees? Sure. If my horse shows no breathing trouble, never develops an infection, and does even more than that herself at liberty in the pasture, then I'd say it's fine. If your horse already has COPD, or similiar, then no, I wouldn't chance it. If your horse is struggling, or clearly is uncomfortable, then no, go back to the barn. But the normal healthy adult horse that shows no signs of problems with riding in cold weather? Fine.

                          When I'm out shoveling snow for an hour in below zero temps, maybe I'm exposing myself to greater risk of airway malfunction, or infection, but so far I've been fine, after all these years of snow shoveling. Now if I had asthma and 10 minutes shoveling snow caused me breathing trouble, then clearly it would be dangerous for me to continue doing so.

                          Common sense. Sheesh, apparently it isn't so common anymore.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            If you read carefully, both abstracts state temps (25C and -5C for both). They are only abstracts; the full papers are only available through subscription databases, so it is unclear whether duration of exercise was noted in the studies. As far as the small sample size goes, most studies using horses have a relatively small sample size due to the expense of procuring, housing, and feeding test subjects.

                            Fer chrissakes, I'm not saying that anyone who hops on Poopsie when it's below freezing is cruel and abusive! It was stated early in the thread that work in subfreezing temps does absolutely no damage to a horse's airway. My aim was only to point out research that suggests otherwise, because all knowledge is worth having. Personally, I don't ride if it's below F10, but potential airway damage is only one of several reasons.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Dad Said Not To View Post
                              Then why bother to rig something up to warm the air before he breathes it in? Why bother to call your vet and ask if you were so convinced that you were doing him no harm? I'm not saying that you're killing your horse and MUST STOP running him in the cold. I'm just confused by your seemingly contradictory beliefs.
                              He said that EXPERIENCE shows he's not hurting his horse. He tried a nose cover - it made things worse. So he contacted a vet - the vet said it was fine. So he's been doing it for 50 years and never had any problems. THAT's the experience he's referring to.

                              The Amish horses here are working, regardless of how cold it is. I'm not saying the Amish are a shining example of "how to do all things equine" but those horses DO work in frigid weather. We have an Amish community to the West of us, about 10 miles, I used to go there every week to buy eggs. They come into town frequently and in the winter I always see their horses wearing a sheet under their harness, and I've seen them covered up in wool blankets at the hitching spot outside the farm supply store. Yes, their horses work hard but I kind of doubt they would do this if their horses sickened and died every time they worked in the cold. It takes years to raise a foal and train it so that it is trustworthy pulling your family through rush hour traffic down the highway.

                              Horses are not porcelain china dolls that will shatter and break if they get too cold, or too hot, or too tired, or too whatever.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I too ride in cold snowy weather...one thing also...almost all of my horses live OUTSIDE (with run-in sheds) 24/7...they are very acclimated to the cold air. Our bank barn stays a toasty 42 degrees all winter, but that is reserved for boarder's horses. I used to love going out on moonlit nights in fresh snow for a ride! Common sense is always used about speed etc. My horses let me know what is comfortable for them.
                                http://s472.photobucket.com/albums/r...view=slideshow
                                Last edited by Blue Bandit; Dec. 23, 2008, 01:04 PM. Reason: spellin'
                                www.charmingcreekfarm.com

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Wow, and you bitch about the TMPers twisting and deliberately misinterpreting your words.

                                  Originally posted by Auventera Two View Post
                                  He said that EXPERIENCE shows he's not hurting his horse. He tried a nose cover - it made things worse. So he contacted a vet - the vet said it was fine. So he's been doing it for 50 years and never had any problems. THAT's the experience he's referring to.
                                  But see, he had the 50 years of EXPERIENCE before calling his vet. So if the experience indicated no negative effects, why worry?

                                  Once again, my goal was not to convince everyone that riding when it's below freezing is wrong. I just like to spread information. I figure that if I like to have as much information as possible so I can make an educated decision, taking all aspects into consideration, then other people might, too. Apparently I was wrong, and people just like to do things because "we've always done it this way."

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Dad Said Not To View Post
                                    Wow, and you bitch about the TMPers twisting and deliberately misinterpreting your words.


                                    But see, he had the 50 years of EXPERIENCE before calling his vet. So if the experience indicated no negative effects, why worry?

                                    Once again, my goal was not to convince everyone that riding when it's below freezing is wrong. I just like to spread information. I figure that if I like to have as much information as possible so I can make an educated decision, taking all aspects into consideration, then other people might, too. Apparently I was wrong, and people just like to do things because "we've always done it this way."
                                    Oh for god sake, go enjoy christmas with your family. I'll be out riding this weekend, and I hope you also get a break from jockeying the keyboard.

                                    I too like to have as much info as possible regarding my equines. And I've gathered the info and came to the conclusion that my riding them during the winter is not harming them. Newsflash, but this is nowhere near my first year riding in rigid temps. It's not like this idea of cold temps being bad for lungs is some brand new earthshattering news. If you arrive at a different decision, then fine, I don't see the problem.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Edited: never mind. It doesn't matter.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Yeah.....

                                        I love the winter riding too, no bugs, no sweat, no humidity. OH Yeah!

                                        I love the feeling of cantering and galloping thru the snow, it is Exhilarating!

                                        A2 don't bother, crickey there is a party pooper on every thread!

                                        Thanks for sharing Norval, I thought A2 and I were the only loons out in the cold.

                                        Comment

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