Dealing with Winter

Last post 01-02-2012 8:07 AM by golliegosh. 16 replies.
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  • 12-07-2011 6:16 PM

    Dealing with Winter

    How to you handle winter with your horse?  Do you keep riding through winter, or does your horse get the winter off?

    What do you do to get around the problem muddy and/or frozen ground, both for turnout and riding? What suggestions do you have for people without access to indoor, lighted arenas?

     

     

  • 12-07-2011 7:59 PM In reply to

    Re: Dealing with Winter

    The Pacific NW is affected by the La Niña weather systems when they hit, which means colder and wetter than usual days. Last year was the strongest La Niña since 1955, which meant virtually no good riding days for anyone without an indoor arena (me). This year will be another La Niña winter--not as bad as last year--but I had everyone's shoes pulled: no sense paying for shoes if you can't ride.

    Without shoes my horses can only be ridden in my round pen, which is not rocky, though my dressage arena is. On the few rideable days I have to ride in the round pen, which is basically an 18m circle. There is not much you can do in there so we're concentrating upon basics, done mostly at the walk.

    I'm lucky enough not to need a job, so I can ride during the day. If I had to work I suspect that I'd need to have some lights installed so I could ride in the evening when it's dark. I'm also fortunate that I rarely need to deal with frozen ground in WA, unless we're dealing with the aforementioned La Niña winters. Basically, the horses get the winter off if a La Niña hits. That's only supposed to be every 3 to 5 years, but we're getting two in a row this year. :(

    ETA: Like lovemyhorse, when I was living in Alaska I spent all winter trail riding in the snow. Ice was rarely a problem since the snow never melted. The horses got special winter shoes with rubber pads that had a concave center. The concave center would "pop" the snowballs out of the shoe before they got too anchored. Of course, that was in the 70s so I'm sure things have changed. I don't need any snowshoes for the horses in a Western WA winter, b/c even if it DOES snow it doesn't last for more than a week, at the worst.
    Megan


    "The horse you get off is not the horse you got on. It is your job as a rider to ensure that as often as possible, the change is for the better."

    Anonymous




  • 12-08-2011 6:39 AM In reply to

    Re: Dealing with Winter

     When I was in high school I used to do a lot of trail riding in the winter, and then had high school equestrian team practice, and 2 riding lessons all at indoors that we trucked to.  Now I'm in college so I don't get to ride much until winter or summer break and don't have the access to indoors that I used to have.  I still do a  lot of trail riding and I ride in my outdoor as long as it's not icey.  If it's icey I don't ride.  Sometimes I get lucky and I can volunteer myself and my horse for some things and I get the use of an indoor for an hour or so before or after (or sometimes both).

    When it comes to dealing with muddy ground (usually in the spring for me) I just make sure that my horse's shoes are pulled every winter and go back on after the worst of the mud.  I've found this also helps with ice in the winter as well even for just turnout.  I'm lucky enough to have 2 very surefooted horses who live outside year round and they go out every day and have never hurt themselves on ice, though in their main pen I will put sand down on different pathways, I've found that it also seems to work as a bit of a heads up for my horses as they are more cautious when the sand comes out than if I don't put it out.

  • 12-08-2011 4:35 PM In reply to

    Re: Dealing with Winter

     In NY, several horses had those rubber pads 48 mentioned. Otherwise the ice would freeze - and there was no way to get it out!

    Some tips for riding from my time up there - layers, layers, and more layers. Take one or 2 off before mounting, and be able to shed another couple as the ride progresses. I even wore yoga pants and/or silky long undies under my breeches.

    Toastie Toes are your friends. But don't wear 2 pairs of socks, lol.

    Irish knit coolers are THE BEST for wicking off sweat from a hard ride before blanketing. My fav was actually Irish knit on the inside and fleece on the outside. It had the little browband that held it up on the horse's neck. I said it ade him look like a sheik. lol

    I was lucky up there in that we had an indoor arena - and the new one actually kept it ~10 degrees warmer than outside (when the sun was out). Unfortunately, 10 degrees warmer than 12 is still really, really cold. lol.

    This is on my mind because last night I wore clothing more suitable to NY than TX (usually). It wasn't below freezing while we rode, but it got there before dawn. I had a turtleneck, sweatshirt, and puffy vest. Plus my big "winter" barn coat that I took off just before mounting. I never even unzipped the vest.

    I would only be able to ride weekends if I didn't have access to a lighted arena. It's only "covered" (a roof on supports) not indoor, so we can get some biting winds. There haven't been too many issues w/ mud here in a while. We have a few spots (near gates of course) that get churned up, but some of them can be avoided.

  • 12-08-2011 5:54 PM In reply to

    Re: Dealing with Winter

    i too am in the pacific northwest, farther north in bc.  we've been so lucky this year (knock on wood).  it has been great for the past couple weeks.  we had one brief snowfall mid november.

    my horse doesn't wear shoes, and when it snowed, i felt so sorry for all the other horses balancing on giant snowballs. of course, with no shoes, mine didn't have that problem.  we've always had our horses shoeless in the winter even when i lived in alberta.  we still rode, but, the snow was softer to walk on and the horses were fine.

    my biggest problem is blanketing. the raincoat rubs the hair off his shoulders and the winter blanket is too warm most days (and not waterproof, which is needed here).  and i'm not always sure whether he needs a blanket when it's not raining. he has fine hair, so, i feel he needs some help, but, it's a pain.

    as for riding; i'm a fair weather rider. i don't ride in the rain or super cold. 

    we have lights in the outdoor arena, but i haven't used them since october.  it's too cold after dark for me.

    basically, winter is a semi-holiday for the horse.  i excercise him enough to keep him fit and get his ya-ya's out and that's about it.

    Gailforce -- Another old lady rediscovering her inner cowgirl.
  • 12-09-2011 10:39 AM In reply to

    Re: Dealing with Winter

    How to you handle winter with your horse? Do you keep riding through winter, or does your horse get the winter off?  When I was younger, I lived on the OH/PA border and rode all year long.  My horses were barefoot all winter.

    What do you do to get around the problem muddy and/or frozen ground, both for turnout and riding? We have 22 acres of nothing but hills.  The one acre "hospital pasture", that's attached to the barn is flat.  They stay in there until the serious ice melts.  Lst year the ice was so thick (in Middle TN) the horses couldn't break thru it.  They stayed in the front pasture four days waiting for the ice to melt down.  They were happy --- NOT - lol lol lol

    I am not being sassy but we have such excellent drainage that we don't have mud.  Two inches of mud for more than three days means the rest of the county is probably under water.

     What suggestions do you have for people without access to indoor I don't have an answer, unless their horses is kept on a fairly quiet road to where it can be road-ridden. Sometimes hand-walking out and riding back will keep a horse from getting the jitters if they're not used to traffic.

    If there's a tractor lane, take advantage of that.

  • 12-10-2011 8:43 AM In reply to

    Re: Dealing with Winter

     (1)  Select your favourite beverage receptacle.

    (2) Add a few tablespoons of hot chocolate.

    (3)  Fill the rest of the (preferably large) receptacle with Bailey's or alcoholic thing of choice.

    (4) Close eyes and drink rapidly.

    (5) Repeat until March.



    Solaris -- 16 hh Appendix Quarter Horse = MY DREAM COME TRUE!
    We Are Flying Solo
  • 12-10-2011 10:59 AM In reply to

    Re: Dealing with Winter

     Mmmm now that's advice I can follow!  I love Bailey's - hmm, haven't had any in a while - I think we need to pick some up.

  • 12-11-2011 6:10 AM In reply to

    Re: Dealing with Winter

    Solaris:

     (1)  Select your favourite beverage receptacle.

    (2) Add a few tablespoons of hot chocolate.

    (3)  Fill the rest of the (preferably large) receptacle with Bailey's or alcoholic thing of choice.

    (4) Close eyes and drink rapidly.

    (5) Repeat until March.

    Ahhhh!!!!! The best solution of them all:)

  • 12-11-2011 8:41 PM In reply to

    Re: Dealing with Winter

    Aren't we all excited for winter? :) haha

    Well, where I ride we do have an indoor, so I am very fortunate, I used to ride at a barn where there wasn't one so I had every winter off. I don't currently own a horse of my own, but I ride lesson horses and all of them are full body clipped and blanketed in the winter. The boarder horses and some lesson horses are big "A" show competitors and are kept in best conditions. Usually the horses go out in the fields for only a little bit if it is soggy wet ground, and are groomed well afterwards to keep their coats shiny. We use coolers to keep them warm before getting on and then take them off to begin riding. then we cool out and put their coolers on. If the outdoor ring is nice then we will ride outside but the indoor is definitely more convenient. 

    My advice to those without access to indoors:

    Always be ready with your horse to ride! - If you get an opportunity where the ring is not hard and the weather is cooperating go! Even if it is a 15 minute ride you and your horse will appreciate it!

    Bring your horse out for walks on the grass, if it isn't too soggy. Just to stretch his muscles is a good thing!

    That's all I can think of right now, but that's all you can really do without an indoor.

    What I did without an indoor was pamper the horses, give them nice long groomings to maintain their shiny coats.
    Give them treats and TLC.
    Clean tack, keep things nice!
    Do some early spring cleaning. 
    :) 
    I hate those long winters! Riding outside is always pleasurable!
    Be confident. Too many days are wasted comparing ourselves to others and wishing to be something we aren’t. Everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses, and it is only when you accept everything you are — and aren’t — that you will truly succeed
  • 12-12-2011 6:12 AM In reply to

    Re: Dealing with Winter

    To give everyone something to look forward to:

    December 21st is the Winter Solstice.  That means, effective December 22nd, the days will start getting longerYesDrinksParadiseBeerYes

  • 12-12-2011 3:01 PM In reply to

    Re: Dealing with Winter

    Yes! I am looking forward to December 22 and longer days. So far here it hasn't been that cold but we haven't hit January yet. For winter I make sure the shoes are pulled unless they are non-slip shoes and have the proper padding so the snow/ice will fall out. Avoid deep mud and ride when the weather cooperates. I got 50 degrees the other day and managed to ride for about 10 minutes -- and have plenty of Bailey's on hand....sounds wonderful! And also since my horse is a senior, I keep him blanketed during bouts of cold temps and wet weather.
  • 12-12-2011 10:16 PM In reply to

    Re: Dealing with Winter

    I have to admit that my mare and I are quite fond of winter riding.  In upstate NY we get mud, snow, mud, and bugs as our seasons.  Snow is cold but you don't get as wet riding as when it rains.  We don't have the luxury of an indoor so we have fun with it.  If the shoulder of the quiet back roads have snow on them then we stay in the pasture and ride with the goats romping after us.  If the roadsides are nice we dress up and have a good time.  She wears her Santa hat and we hang a jingle-bell from the bottom of her halter.  She loves to bob her head to make her bell ring.  There are lots of people around us that come out to visit as well...particularly older people that remember more horses on the roads in the area. 

    Silver has bad feet so she wears the snow-ball pads under her shoes.  Luckily we only need front shoes.  Snow never stops us from having fun.  We also have a special bad weather halter.  Her storm halter is hot pink and has an ID tag on it with her name, my name and my cell number.  The goats have fluorescent orange collars with similar tags.  That way if anyone goes off the road and through the fence the animals still have ID so I know they will find their way back.  They have had the chance to escape once before though and they chose to just stay home.

  • 12-24-2011 11:16 AM In reply to

    Re: Dealing with Winter

     I love winter riding too! The horses I ride all go barefoot in the winter, we don't do any special shoes, we just pay more attention to how they move on pavement and gravel and take it from there. Where I live we've had a great year without to much ice. I never ride when it's icy, but otherwise if it's frozen, snowy, or even muddy- we just go for it. I just guage speed depending on the conditions. I agree with Horselover127, even if it's for 10-20 minutes, it is so worth it! 

    Seven Days Without A Horse Makes One Weak ~ Author Unknown

    I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! ~ Phillipians 4:13
  • 12-26-2011 3:12 PM In reply to

    Re: Dealing with Winter

    We here in Iceland deal with winter by shooing our horses with shoes that have ice-spikes in them - similar to winter tires on cars. We then use warm overalls, thick gloves and hat and then we are good to go! 
    Today there was 10 degrees frost and small wind. An hours ride was very refreshing for both men and horses :-)


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