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Riding in the COLD

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  • #21
    For one, we would ride bareback rather than in saddles. Sometimes, the teens would ride the horses with their stable blankets on them, just walking around the arena for abit. : )

    For tacking up, I kept a cooler or fleece on the horse as I groomed him after taking off his stable blanket. Do a section at a time to keep him warm. Hang the bridle around my neck with the bit inside my jacket and then warm it in my bare hands before putting it in his mouth.

    For me, I always wear panty hose under every layer. then... loose layers. Long johns over the panty hose and jeans. My friend likes to wear the wind pants over her breeches. Mittens if possible, switch to gloves for riding. Headband under the helmet - or I have a VERy old Dansk thin head cover that comes up over my mouth if I wish. It fits wonderfully under a helmet.

    Slow warm ups, lots of walking. I think riding outside, if possible is healthier than an indoor arena (too much dust) - but if it's windy outside, I would stay inside.

    If you have a quarter sheet or rug, that's helpful if you are doing hard cantering type of work - keeps the muscles warm. But I think it's better to do slow easy work to avoid creating a sweat on horses not used to cold, cold work.


    • #22
      I ride trails all year round right down to 0, or whatever. If I didn't, I just plain wouldn't ride from December to March. And that's NOT an option. I use a large wool quarter sheet to keep the hindquarters warm, and I've never had any problems.

      I ride in a treeless so all that wonderful horse warmth comes right up through the saddle and it feels like heated seats in an expensive car.


      • #23
        My vet, who is a partner at a large BNP (big name practice) told me that the idea that you would damage a horse's lungs by riding in the cold is a myth. Apparently their windpipe is so long that the air is warmed sufficiently long before it gets to that point.

        I admit that I was a bit disappointed since it was a very convenient excuse not to ride in the cold, as I am a total wimp when it comes to temps below about 30 F or so. My personal rule is that I do not ride when it is below 20 F; I don't enjoy it and since I ride for enjoyment I don't see the point. However, I do make sure my horse gets out of his stall and gets to stretch his legs. If the weather is too bad for turnout, I will take him up to the indoor and either handwalk (if there are others using the ring) or let him run around a bit (if the arena is empty) so that he is not cooped up in his stall all day long.
        We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


        • #24
          Originally posted by lotc2005 View Post
          The last I knew, Findlay College Equestrian Studies Program (Ohio) does not permit their Equestrian Studies students to ride when the temps fall below 15 degrees. The risk of lung injury due to the frigid air is to great. I personally do not ride when the temps fall below 15 either.
          Agreed - our general rule of thumb is no riding if below 15. Though there's not many days when it's below 30 that you'll find us get up the enthusiasm to ride! Though during Jan/February when we have our long below zero snap you can find us getting on bareback and just riding around at a walk, too long not to ride!
          If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
          ~ Maya Angelou


          • #25
            Originally posted by lotc2005 View Post
            The last I knew, Findlay College Equestrian Studies Program (Ohio) does not permit their Equestrian Studies students to ride when the temps fall below 15 degrees. The risk of lung injury due to the frigid air is to great. I personally do not ride when the temps fall below 15 either.
            One place I boarded at had huge pastures with groups of horses. This was maybe a 20 acre place?

            They were out pretty much 24/7 except for cold rain and heavy wet snow.

            Honestly? They were perfectly fine running around in those kinds of temperatures. As I mentioned, these were huge pastures and these guys when playing, would run from one end of the pasture to the other side and back, with no ill effects. 15 degrees or colder.
            MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"

            Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


            • #26
              Our horses are also out in pasture 24/7 and it gets well below 20 degrees here in South Dakota. We're sitting at -1 right now I believe, windchills of -15 or so, and have been for the last three days. True, they are fine out in it, play even, but don't work up nearly the sweat or get their respirations up like they do in a workout in the arena. I don't think that's a good comparison.
              If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
              ~ Maya Angelou


              • #27
                I rode tonight at 12F (-11C) and I wasn't cold at all. I even sweated a bit. I wore my irideon 3 season breeches, a tee shirt, a sweatshirt, and the inner layer of my winter coat. I only rode for about 15-20minutes. If I went any longer I would have had to take my coat off.

                I'm still only wearing one pair of socks and today was actually the first day I wore my winter riding boots (my limit for that is about 14F/-10C).

                Edited to add: for the poster who asked about keeping my face warm -- I have never found it to be a problem! I've never worn anything other than my helmet on my head.
                Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**


                • #28
                  Zero F is my limit. Above that, I layer up and head to the barn. If I had to ride outside in the wind, though, I might feel differently.

                  If I was fussy about the cold, I'd have to take much of the winter off.

                  That said, I've become an expert in dressing for cold-weather riding!


                  • #29
                    As another Canadian, I can't help but add to this thread. I've ridden in as low as -20 F. Not very often, but my horses lungs (or throat, or....) definitely didn't freeze. At those temperatures it's always bareback for me, and I can't say as I've tried to give a horse a serious workout at those temperatures (usually lessons are in heated indoor arenas), but I've certainly gone for fun canters in the snow at those temperatures.

                    For yourself, you just need lots and lots of layers - and long underwear is your best friend! Many zipped layers are your best bet to so you can shed them as you warm up. And Ariat makes absolutely wonderful winter paddock boots that keep my toes toasty warm.


                    • #30
                      Originally posted by 4whitefeet View Post
                      I admit I'm a wimp, I don't like to ride in anything under 35 degrees.
                      When you are cold and uncomfortable and your feet/hands get cold and go numb, it ain't fun anymore.
                      Me, too. So simple, I hardly do ride in the winter unless it's ABOVE freezing and there's no wind. Because I don't have an indoor, I have to make sure footing is okay and then usually it's just a quick jaunt bareback in the pasture or around the place or down the road if they're cleared and safe. I bet I only ride a half a dozen or so times in the winter. They all generally get the winter off and they don't mind. They usually come back right where we left off in the summer/fall. We're all happy that way.
                      A Merrick N Dream Farm
                      Proud Member of "Someone Special to me serves in the Military" Clique


                      • #31
                        generally speaking, I don't like to ride below 20 degrees. Its just not a lot of fun for me, the indoor always seems dusty - probably because we havent been able to get water on it in a while, and I just get cold when I ride. If it has been below 20 for many days, and theres no sign of it getting any warmer, I would ride, though. It also makes a difference if the sun is out (for me) - which is so rare in rochester winter i swear!


                        • #32
                          Nothing is more fun than jumping on your horse bareback and riding through the snow. A good workout for the horse. And if your horsie gets excited and bucks, poof! you only fall a few feet into soft snow. Just stay off the roads!

                          Upstate NY winters are too long and cold to stay away from the barn. I love warming myself up by light riding in colder temps. That said, I toned down my winter riding when I had a geriatric horse.


                          • #33
                            jumping snow banks is the best! i love it when theres so much snow the horses have to leap and bound hehe


                            • #34
                              Originally posted by Lucassb View Post
                              My vet, who is a partner at a large BNP (big name practice) told me that the idea that you would damage a horse's lungs by riding in the cold is a myth. Apparently their windpipe is so long that the air is warmed sufficiently long before it gets to that point.
                              I've read that too. I think the biggest danger with winter time riding is getting them hot and sweaty then cramping up muscles. I always take care to not get the horse working hard enough to sweat much, and I use a wool quarter sheet.

                              How on earth could horses live outside all day long in -0 temps if they'd die when cold air hit their lungs? Makes no sense to me that cold air would damage lungs and hurt the horse. Mine are out there running around and playing and digging in snow drifts when it's well below 0. They are very healthy and happy and seem to just love it. Haven't seen any devestating injuries yet due to the cold.

                              I use a Back on Track blanket prior to riding, and I do a slow warmup to make sure soft tissue is well stretched and warmed up to avoid injury. Couple that with the quarter sheet and I can't see a problem.


                              • #35
                                A feature of winter is the deep snow - excellent work out for horses!!

                                But I think Simkie is referring to cold with no snow... brrrrr....


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by veebug22 View Post
                                  It's not good for a horse's lungs (or anyone's) to be worked below a certain temperature. I can't remember what that temperature point is scientifically, but I usually don't ride when it's less than 20 or so, or else I keep it very light.
                                  Does anyone have any proof that riding in cold air will hurt the lungs? If its not hurting your lungs how will it hurt the horses lungs? Horses are built much better than we are for cold weather. IE long nose and neck, the air is much warmer by the time its gets to thier lungs that it is to our lungs. I see people who run in 15 degree weather and are doing fine. ALSO horses race in this weather. That is not light work. I really think people undersimate how well horses are built for the cold.