Monday, January 16, 2012

Winter Riding - Tips for you & Your Horse - and a neat video!!

Winter Riding

This past weekend was the coldest so far for this winter. As much as I wanted to bundle up indoors and avoid the super chilly conditions, I ventured outside for some winter riding and teaching.

Being active all year is important for ourselves and our horses. Being active is really good for our health – this really neat video on youtube makes a good case for being active:

So I bundled up and went to visit the horses – because what is better than spending time with horses for your ‘active time’?

We saddled up and explored around our property. We had some friends visiting so we all rode together – and even took some pictures, check them out at:

In the chilly weather you do need to keep some precautions in mind, so remember these helpful tips:
- Take Care of your Horse: when we ride in the winter we need to remember to do some extra little things to take care of our horses.
o Quarter Sheets: If you horse is used to being blanketed, it is a chilly change to have just a saddle. Using a fleece quarter sheet over their hind quarters will help them stay warm during your warm up and cool down. Even if your horse isn’t blanketed, you may want to consider a quarter sheet to help your horse’s muscles stay warm, and to help your horse dry from any sweat.
o Coolers: using a fleece cooler over your horse while tacking up and untacking can help your horse stay warm if they are used to wearing blankets. Using a cooler to help a horse dry is important too.
o Easier Breathing: in the winter the colder air makes hard work less comfortable for the horses. Take it easier on your horse and allow more warm up and cool down time so you can make breathing easier. If your horse starts coughing, allow them to walk and catch their breath before you start going again.
- Dress warm! This may seem like a no brainer, but it can be really surprising how under prepared – and under dressed – people can be when they show up to ride in the winter. Here are my tips on dressing warm for riding – without being expensive:
o Boots: You should really get some very insulated winter boots, that are roomy enough for some wool socks. If your boots are too tight with the extra socks, you will actually make your feet colder! My winter boots are rated to -40 degrees Celcius – they have a heel, but are just winter rubber boots from Walmart. I bought them 1 size too big, so when I wear my thick socks they are perfect. I do have a pair of Mountain Horse tall winter riding boots which I will use for jumping or when I ride and need a better leg position, but for basic pleasure/winter riding I use my Walmart boots that only cost $40.
o Long Underwear: Getting some winter long underwear and long sleeve shirts is important too. This past weekend I wore 2 pairs of long underwear under my winter fleece riding pants. I wore 2 long sleeve shirts under my fleece sweater. Find clothes that are comfortable for you. I like the warm stuff from Mark’s Work Warehouse. They wick away sweat but keep you warm. Getting the basic cotton pants/shirts will work too and you can pick them up at Walmart, Superstores, and even some dollar stores. Remember to get something thin so it fits under your other pants.
o Pants: Winter riding pants can be really helpful – or fleece lined jeans. Just make sure you buy them large enough that you can fit extra layers underneath if you want to. If I am riding outside, I wear snow pants because half the battle to keeping warm is to block the wind, and snow pants do a great job of that.
o Winter jacket: You can’t skimp on a winter jacket. Make sure you get something with a zipper that can open from both ends (so you don’t accidentally split your zipper when riding) – and something short enough so it doesn’t make riding awkward.
o Winter Gloves: I don’t bother with the winter riding gloves – I don’t find any of them warm enough, so I use the Wind River ski gloves – they work perfectly because they are super warm and they have grips (since they are still a glove for sports). The winter riding gloves at most tack shops are pretty expensive, and if they are leather they aren’t machine washable. The Wind River Ski Glove (from Mark’s Work Warehouse) cost about $35-45 and are machine washable, super warm, and very gripy. I feel really comfortable riding with them.
o The Extras: Remember to also wear a hat. I also use the fleece cover for my helmet with the fleece chin strap – I find this really helpful. I also wear a scarf.

So don’t be intimidated by the cold weather – being active is a good thing… just stay smart for you and your horse… keep warm!

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