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Spinoff: What is too cold for a horse to work in?

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  • Spinoff: What is too cold for a horse to work in?

    I know that a horse shouldn't work in extremely cold conditions because it is bad for them to breath in the cold air. What is the general temp that is too cold? Specifically for horses that are stalled at night with a low of 23 degrees and high of 50 degees.


    Thanks!
    “It's about the horse and that's it.” - GM

    !! is the new .

  • #2
    Well....

    Years ago, before our heated indoor arena was built at my old barn (now the barn where I lesson), we used to stop riding during January because it just got too cold. Nowadays, we stop having lessons when it hits zero degress as a high... as the arena is heated to a nice, balmy 40*.

    Personally? Well, my boys are pasture boarded now and I have no access to any arenas, whatsoever. So, I probably will ride to around 10 or so above. I've got enough layers to keep warm, but when riding when it's that cold? I really only do that to give Gus a bit more exercise so his arthritic joints don't lock up entirely. That being said, I've been a wuss. I've only riden twice (I think) since like the beginning of November. Uggh. It stinks.
    Proud owner of Gus & Gringo.
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    • #3
      Horses are cold weather animals. It's too cold for you before it's too cold for them.
      Against My Better Judgement: A blog about my new FLF OTTB
      Do not buy a Volkswagen. I did and I regret it.
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      • #4
        When it gets into the 20s I start chickening out ... but we don't have an indoor.
        Full-time bargain hunter.

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        • #5
          Really and truly, I have never seen a racetrack close for "cold" weather..and as far as I can tell, none of ours have suffered ill effects.
          That being said, when it comes to riding..I'm much more of a wimp and don't care to ride below 20

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          • #6
            I don't ride if it is below 20.

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            • #7
              What is too cold for the horse to work in?
              having grown up in the central Canadian Prairies, it gets plenty cold- minus forty is not uncommon. You acclimatize and dress for it- special boots, insulated snow wear, scarves, hats, layered mitts. And I grew up before snowmobiles became the thundering herd they are today, so part of winter fun was horse related for many people- hay rides, sleigh rides, were common weekend past-times even in very cold weather in December.

              And we would trail ride there, appropriately dressed, even with temps in the well below freezing range on either temperature scale. It was a lot of fun with all of us dressed like Michelin Men. on shetlands...

              Around -20 F or -30C it is really too cold for man or beast to do anything unless one has to, and even then the wind chill from your own movement can cause frost bite if you do more than walk. I don't think it harms horses to breathe slowly and normally in very cold temperatures, as in trail riding at a walk. Horses living outside in that climatre ( with shelters or stalled part time) had normal lifespans and I don't recall any enormous amount of heaves or other respiratory complaints in the population. But breathing fast in the cold air, especially if coming from a wamr envirnment of an enclosed or heated stable- that may be harmful to the large lungs and delicate airway tissue. The throat and bronchi cannot adequately warm the air and moisturize it if working at speed and I would not school dressage or other sports in extreme cold. I wouldn't want to anyway!

              Nowadays though, we often have heated barns and arenas- what a blessing. I agree the limitation is not how cold the horse can work, but how cold the human is willing to work. Outside I am comfortable, if working, to about 20 F or -6 C. Any time it's below freezing, I like a foldaway quarter sheet that I can put over my legs while warming up, cooling out so I don't get chilled.

              The horse would probably be happy and safe doing his full schooling session even in -5 F. The draft horses on the hay rides often worked in those temps without ill effect.
              "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Big_Tag View Post
                Really and truly, I have never seen a racetrack close for "cold" weather..and as far as I can tell, none of ours have suffered ill effects.
                That being said, when it comes to riding..I'm much more of a wimp and don't care to ride below 20
                Actually, they DO close for cold and/or inclement winter weather. The lost a weekend at Edmonton Northlands because the daily high was colder than the Ag Canada guideline of -25°C air temp - they were around -30°C with horrible windchills. If one looks through the results over Canada and the northern States, you will find the odd one saying Cancelled - Cold, but more often it is Cancelled - Weather, Poor Track, and sometimes you will see track conditions listed as Fr (Frozen).

                I have driven and ridden in much colder temps than -25°C, have chased jail breaking cows in -40, taken hay rides around -20°F (before the great switch of temp scales), hauled away cow crap on a stoneboat and brought back a load of straw in -40...so it is really how much the human can stand. The only thing to watch is speed work in that kind of cold - it can damage lungs.
                Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

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                • #9
                  Coincidence you posted this question. It's something I've been talking about earlier today.

                  We've had quite a bit of snow this past fortnight and I've not had a customer anywhere near the premises since 17th December. Temperatures have been between a heady and warm -2C to a protect your brass monkeys -16C yesterday afternoon with a wind chill factor too! I said to Susan that it was blowing a blizzard straight from Siberia!

                  So today a car pulled in. I've a lady who's a diplomat in Moscow who has been coming for about 5 years with her daughters to go riding when she's on holiday. I told her we were solid ice everywhere so it was too dangerous to ride and she laughed at me ! Seemingly it's a little colder there!

                  I joked to her though that they're a bunch of wimps because they've got an indoor arena and I haven't and their horses are all inside.

                  Your day time temperatures though are positively barmy and wouldn't trouble me or any horse whatsoever. It's mainly going to be footing that you've to be careful of..... presuming you are actually thinking about going out riding rather than working in an indoor arena.

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                  • #10
                    For a light hack or trail ride, I think it's fine to ride in pretty much any temp provided the horse isn't getting too cold (aka, if he normally wears a blanket, he needs to at least have on a sheet or something)

                    For harder work, where they're breathing heavier I only do that when it's 20+
                    Cascadia- OTTB mare. 04/04-05/10
                    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by sk_pacer View Post
                      Actually, they DO close for cold and/or inclement winter weather. The lost a weekend at Edmonton Northlands because the daily high was colder than the Ag Canada guideline of -25°C air temp - they were around -30°C with horrible windchills. If one looks through the results over Canada and the northern States, you will find the odd one saying Cancelled - Cold, but more often it is Cancelled - Weather, Poor Track, and sometimes you will see track conditions listed as Fr (Frozen).

                      I have driven and ridden in much colder temps than -25°C, have chased jail breaking cows in -40, taken hay rides around -20°F (before the great switch of temp scales), hauled away cow crap on a stoneboat and brought back a load of straw in -40...so it is really how much the human can stand. The only thing to watch is speed work in that kind of cold - it can damage lungs.

                      True, I've seen them close for weather-related things and I think it gets colder where you are than here. I remember we had FRIGID temps maybe two winters ago (for here. so probably hovering around 0 or 5 degrees with windchills lower) and they raced every night bc it was dry. The track was HARD though. Some scratched. I don't think we had any in.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by *JumpIt* View Post
                        I know that a horse shouldn't work in extremely cold conditions because it is bad for them to breath in the cold air. What is the general temp that is too cold? Specifically for horses that are stalled at night with a low of 23 degrees and high of 50 degees.


                        Thanks!
                        Horses have to breathe, no matter how cold it is. How hard you work them is the key, I think.

                        I enjoyed a nice 40-minute or so ride yesterday (in the indoor) with the temp ~10. Long warm-up at the walk (neither mare nor I qualify as spring chickens), then some trotting and lateral stuff, and a little bit of canter (mare offered, so I took it). I was well bundled and it seems we both enjoyed it -- she hasn't been getting her customary amount of turnout because of the holidays and ongoing snow. And I haven't been getting my customary amount of riding.

                        Outdoors, I'll ride when it's ~20 or so, provided there's not much wind.
                        __________________________
                        "... if you think i'm MAD, today, of all days,
                        the best day in ten years,
                        you are SORELY MISTAKEN, MY LITTLE ANCHOVY."

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                        • #13
                          at my very first barn we had a big indoor and lots of people exercised their horses at night after their workday. It was well lit shelter but not heated by any stretch of the imagination . It was customary not to do any fast work if it was in the mid 20's or below. Riders mainly ambled around and chatted with each other, or we'd do drill team stuff, etc., basically work at a walk with some trotting. If it was cold and someone went off cantering around madly they got the stink eye from everyone else riding...

                          so, I basically keep to this, nothing faster than a walk with some intermittent trotting below mid 20's, but a good long brisk walk is certainly fine, certainly my horses are out frolicing around in the cold weather themselves.
                          Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

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                          • #14
                            I haven't ridden as much in this cold weather, not because it's cold, but just due to time constraints, but have been bringing my little mare in and lunging and doing ground stuff.

                            I often turn her loose in the indoor and she loves rocketing around, despite the frigid Wisconsin temperatures. I figure the footing must feel nice to her, so I let her enjoy herself and always take time to cool her out afterwards.

                            I don't think she'd enjoy blowing off so much steam if it was uncomfortable to her and in addition, I think the average human freezes before it's cold enough to cause damage to the average pleasure horse enjoying a basic training session or easy ride.
                            Semi Feral

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                            • #15
                              I should preface this by saying that I think 30F to 40F is the ideal temperature in which to ride.

                              I'll ride down to 0F, but not below zero. It might mean that I don't ride for a week here and there during the winter, but for the most part it gets above 0F daily.

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                              • #16
                                I become a wimp at freezing, although out mucking in any temperature.

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                                • #17
                                  Wow,thats weird your tracks dont close.I live in michigan and our tracks ALWAYS close for the entire winter.I think we race from March til September or something like that.

                                  And theres no way Im riding if its below 30F! Way too wimpy!

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                                  • #18
                                    I actually think it's better to keep them moving in cold weather. Sometimes when the footing outside gets icy or frozen underneath, they stop moving around much in turnout. They usually love coming into the indoor where they can MOVE normally and not worry about slipping. After I ride, they always head for the water bucket and take a long drink. The indoor is usually warmer than outside because it cuts the wind. When it is 20 degrees outside, I am taking off layers halfway through my ride because I'm too warm. My horses don't get clipped, but they are blanketed, and neither of them grow much winter coat (Tb & Tb/Trak cross). At 10-20 degrees--I will use a quarter sheet when riding. *My* cut-off is usually under 10 degrees, mainly because I can't figure out a way to dress that keeps me warm enough and isn't too bulky to ride in.

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                                    • #19
                                      I'll do anything I normally do till about 30 F. Then I'll plan a longer walking warm-up and mostly long, low, loose trotting. Little else till we're both well warmed-up. Usually around here, if it's 20 F in the indoor, we don't ride, but I think it could be done -- just don't ask for collection or lateral work below that.

                                      This'll sound wimpy, I'm sure, but the coldest I've EVER been was one November when we started out for the fall gather at the ranch. At 5 AM, when we saddled up, it was -5 F, with a breeze. No idea what the wind chill was. It did warm up that day a little; still a miserable day on horseback.

                                      Glad we sold the cattle. Cowmen deserve every cent they make!

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                                      • #20
                                        Thomas, your "minus 2" is our 30 degrees. Balmy, indeed, close to tropical!

                                        Our barn suspends lessons when it gets below 20 (Fahrenheit.)
                                        I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry

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