Seven tips to survive riding in ridiculously cold weather

Be prepared so you don't have to borrow your mom's coat between rounds at a winter schooling show...

bitofbritain-Week1

 

Seven tips to survive riding in ridiculously cold weather

Winter riding is unavoidable for most equestrians. With work and school, few riders have the ability to flee south for the harsh winter months. I was born and raised in Northern Ontario, Canada so I know all about toughing out the winter months with horses. During my dealings with winter I have discovered a few tricks of the north to make things are pleasant as possible.

1) Hand/feet warmers Sometimes it does not matter how winter-proof your gloves and boots are, they just don’t cut it. For the bitterest days you will need air-activated hand/feet warmers. Putting these in your boots and gloves will keep your digits from freezing.

Photo via www.walmart.ca

Photo via www.walmart.ca

 

2) Winter riding breeches and jackets – Thin summer breeches are not suitable for riding in December. Winter jackets designed for other winter sports will inhibit your freedom in the saddle. Make sure you have the RIGHT gear for winter riding. Here is a list of top winter breeches to keep you warm and stylin’ this season and here are some quality winter riding jackets.

3) Heat lamp in the wash stall – Install heat lamps in your wash stall and consider it a Christmas gift to all of the horses in the barn and yourself. Heat lamps will make it possible to hose down horses in the winter because afterwards, they can stand under the lamps and dry off with a blanket on. Being unable to wash your horse off ALL winter because it is so cold that it would be cruel is just plain miserable. You need heat lamps.

Photo via www.amberwayequine.com

Photo via www.amberwayequine.com

 

4) Ovation helmet cover This does look a little dorky but there is nothing cool about having a frost bitten face and ears. The spandex helmet cover will stretch to fit virtually all helmets and it allows the ideal amount of ventilation. Meanwhile, the fleece wrap will keep your neck, cheeks, chin and ears from freezing. This has to be one of my favourite winter riding accessories. Once you go for one ride with this on your helmet, you will be keeping it on all winter.

Photo via Ovation.

Photo via Ovation.

 


 

5) Quarter sheet Remember to bundle your horse up before you head out to ride in the cold, especially if your mount is clipped. A simple quarter sheet is the perfect way to keep your horse’s muscles warm while you warm-up and prevent it from getting a chill when cooling down. Everyone who plans to ride during the winter needs a good quality quarter sheet; my favourite is the Rambo Newmarket Quarter Sheet

Photo via www.bitofbritain.com

Photo via www.bitofbritain.com

 

6) Do not put a cold bit in your horse’s mouth – Would you like if someone stuck an ice-cold piece of metal in your mouth? Likely not. So do your horse the service of always making sure the bit is reasonably warm before bridling. This will be a non-issue if your barn and/or tack room are heated. But if there is no heat then either use your hands or warm water to heat the bit up to a humane temperature before your bridle your precious pony.

7) Be smart and do not ride when it is actually too cold – There will be days when you have to face the reality that it is too cold to ride. If you work your horse in extremely cold weather it can lead to minor inflammation in the lungs.  You can also get frostbitten. Plus be mindful of the footing during the winter. If it is frozen, you are best to stick to just walking and maybe a little trot. Do not risk yourself or your horse when weather conditions are really not cooperating.

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