Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What Do Wednesday: Winter Riding

I don’t know about most of you, but winter has officially hit (finally?) and in full force. We were lucky and actually had legitimate weeks of winter with low 50’s-60s and I was questioning life in general. Not to worry, winter is back to normal. This last weekend was our first real snow and temperature plummet (-10* windchill) and it has not really let up since then. Bacardi is snug as a bug in his (torn up) rugs in the barn ready to settle for a long winters nap. Yesterday was special getting to work on time and this morning it was brutally cold with a windchill of -15*. Ridiculous.


Getting to work is questionable but necessary, but doing other things like running errands, gym time and riding time always get shoved aside when the roads are bad. I live out in the BF of nowhere and its especially treacherous just getting into town where all the cars tend to pile up because people can’t drive. I adore my Honda Pilot for many reasons, but the handling in snow and ice has to be one of my favorites. But that doesn’t mean I willingly want to put myself at risk for stuff and things.

In MO, we had no choice but to get ourselves to the barn because we were on self care board. Usually, I was the person to volunteer to drive there and take care of all of the self-care beasts since My SUV was a muthafuckin badass in the snow. Here though in OH, I don’t even want to attempt to leave my warm and safe house, especially after what happened this weekend driving a truck and trailer on snowy roads.

What I’m trying to get at here is that when its truly wintery outside, I don’t go see my horse, or even ride.

15* feelings
It makes me feel like an asshole, but I hand over my hard earned money nowadays to get him cared for when I cannot be there. I still feel for the barn workers, since I’ve been in their place, but I do not envy them. Horses gotta be fed, regardless of the weather.

Speaking of, shout out to the workers at our barn, as they are wonderful and perfect. Blankets changes, leg wrap removal, you name it, they’ll do it. Love them.

This week I had actually planned on giving Bacardi half the week off because I have a group project for school (seriously WTF though, this is graduate level work, not high school, whyyy why why why) and he worked his bum off on Sunday at the show.

However, even if that wasn’t the case, he would still be getting most of the week off. I sure am glad I decided against the dressage show this weekend or I would really be feeling nervous about it.

The snow doesn’t even play a massive factor in this type of decision it’s the FREEZING cold.

Lets not judge the mud, it was too cold out to thoroughly groom all the places
While we have a gorgeous, well maintained and generally warmer than outdoors indoor, when the temp drops below 10* I find it completely pointless to even  attempt to ride.

Most people I’ve discovered from a poll on my Instagram have their lessons canceled if it drops below 25/30*, but here in the north, that would be a waste of a winter. We have a little more gumption and hardiness when it comes to the cold.

My rule of thumb is if I can’t feel my toes, or am having a hard time tacking up because my fingers are frozen or my legs are so cold I can barely creak around, chances are my horse won’t appreciate being ridden. Also if the air hurts my lips and throat when I walk outside, chances are my horse won’t appreciate being ridden.

Damaging the windpipe and lungs on a horse in the cold is a real concern for most riders and they tend to take it a little too far by stating “NO RIDING BELOW 30*”.

Thirty degrees? That’s almost balmy.

For us up here, we are used to this and our horses are used to this and taking off a full 4 months because its below 30* is insane (if you have an arena, riding outside in a frozen field is not fun, I can attest to that).

For me, even if its below freezing but above 15* I still want to do SOMETHING. Anything. Especially if he has been stuck inside because of weather. Gotta loosen up that body somehow.

I try to keep the warm-ups long, the workouts easy but the brain movement high. This means doing lots of fundamentals that we all don’t school as often as we should. Like halts, walk work and lateral work at the walk and some trot.

You can still have a productive ride and barely trot and not canter at all.

For myself and my horses, I would never jump when its below 20*, or even do much canter work, since that’s just too cold to even unstick my young old person joints and ride properly. Plus, the ground is cold and it just seems too jarring and he air is cold and its all just COLD. But some fundamentals never hurt anyone and riding time is still accrued.


So dear readers, what do you do? Where do you live and what are your practices for riding in winter? I am especially interested in those from the south, like TX and SC, and those from the extreme north, like Canada. FEED ME YOUR SECRETS. I must know.

37 comments:

  1. If it's below 20 and windy, or below 15 and not-windy, I generally don't ride because the air hurts my face and that's not fun. Other than that, footing-dependent, I try to ride as much as possible in the winter! I put snow pads on the pony so we can rock and roll even when there's white stuff on the ground, and when the ground is too hard to do much, if it is at least flat I will get out there and do walk work. Lately we have been doing a LOT of walks up and down hills, which has kept D pretty fit. He loses muscle very quickly due to his age & metabolic issues, so I try to keep him in work as much as possible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never actually used snow pads! I pretty much said NOPE after trying a few times to ride when I didn't have an arena. I miss having hills!

      Delete
  2. About 15 degrees is my cutoff. After losing the entire month of February to snowpocalypse last year (since we couldn't even get to the indoor never mind have time to ride since all everyone was ever doing was shoveling) I've come into this winter being a lot more chill about having to take weather related riding breaks. I still feel kinda bad about it, but at he same time I've come to accept that's it's out of my control.

    When March comes around though, I don't feel the same way. The weather better freaking cooperate come March cause we have stuff to do!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DUDE snowpocalypse was the WORST. It helps to realize that you can't control the weather :(

      Delete
  3. Here in Alberta if we didn't jump or canter when it was colder than 20F we would spend Oct-Mar/Apr doing a whole lot of nothing. That said, most of our indoors are heated. When it gets down to -22F I won't even ride in the indoor though since my mare lives outside full time. I'll ride outside up to 0F as long as daylight and footing allows for just to get out of the indoor.

    I agree with the long warmups. I also find that utilizing my back on track sheet and/or saddle pad helps alleviate stiffness, especially when it's cold.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was wondering how Canadians weathered winter! You guys are much more hardy than us Ohioans! Thats insanely cold, helps to have a heated indoor though!

      Delete
  4. Damaging the windpipe and lungs is sheer hokum. Completely made up by people who don't like being cold. If you don't want to ride, great, leave the indoor to MEEEEEEE, but don't say it's because the horse can't handle 30f. Or 0f. Or whatever.

    They're from Siberia. They are WELL adapted to handle cold.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thats what I'm saying, I really don't believe it much and mostly to me it depends how on how cold I feel haha

      Delete
  5. Uh... I don't ride if it's below 40 usually, because that's stupid in Texas. Just wait a day or two and it'll at least be 50 again. So, um, sorry bout your winter? Our real problem is rain. Last year was our rainiest on record, and very few places down here have a covered because it's generally not that necessary. When it's super rainy we're kind of screwed for riding.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL Texas. I wish I were there but then I would probably become a wuss :P

      Rain SUCKS

      Delete
  6. I'm in SC and moved here from WI. I ride all the time here. It just never gets cold enough to use it as an excuse not to ride. That being said, there are no indoors around me, so if it is crazy windy and cold I will forgo it. I generally do not ride in the rain (again no indoor). When I was in WI and had an indoor I would ride down to -5 at the walk and trot for short periods. Trail riding in the snow is a blast, but you do have to be careful about ice. I would layer like crazy: long underwear, fleece riding tights, insulted tall riding boots, long underwear shirt, t shirt, long sleeve shirt, vest, sweathshirt and coat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My family is from WI, their winters are insane!!

      I do love snow trail rides!

      Delete
  7. I live in Kentucky and generally don't ride if it's 20 or below. Admittedly this is because I don't feel like it and because Alex gets very offended when you remove his warm fuzzies (even if he gets a quarter sheet). If temps stay low for a long period of time, I may adjust my criteria. I'll totally admit it mostly depends on my mood :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I live in Kentucky and generally don't ride if it's 20 or below. Admittedly this is because I don't feel like it and because Alex gets very offended when you remove his warm fuzzies (even if he gets a quarter sheet). If temps stay low for a long period of time, I may adjust my criteria. I'll totally admit it mostly depends on my mood :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think my horse is the same he's like WHAT ARE YOU DOING thats my blankie!

      Delete
  9. I've been taught the damaging the lungs thing is a total myth. Apparently the air warms up sufficiently as it travels down their windpipe to not damage anything.

    Now when I was in the Texas panhandle we had some very cold winters. Granted they were winters that would spend a week at -10 and then warm up to like 60 degrees for a day then throw you a blizzard the next day. The weather in Texas can be exciting.

    I rode in all temps as long as I had somewhere indoors to ride. The semester I did self care at a small place with no arena we had a blizzard and several days that the weather people said "exposed flesh may freeze in a matter of minutes" I didn't ride on those days. I made the perilous trip out to feed. That was it.

    When I boarded at a place with an indoor I would bundle up in layers and ride.

    Now this dfw area is not nearly as extreme. No reason to ride if it's below freezing because it will just warm back up soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TX weather is the most bipolar Ive ever seen and I've lived in MO and OH.

      Delete
  10. It's freaking warm here so the cold is not a problem. Winter is really only a problem for me because we don't have electricity at our barn so we can't ride after work in the winter. And I despise getting up early so that doesn't happen much. We also don't have an indoor so el nino is putting a damper on us getting much done right now. I played polo in NY all winter and we rode in every weather. I can remember riding when it was so cold the barn door would freeze shut so we'd have to hit the ice with things just to get to the polo ponies, but we had in indoor to ride in. Ponies were all shaved and covered in coolers post ride but we rode without rump rugs as they'd be dangerous with mallets. We might cancel if the snow kept us from getting there, but no cold ever stopped rides. I remember doing all of this in jeans. Now I wear fleece lined riding tights if the weather gets down to 50 because I think it's freezing. I have totally lost my winter conditioning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The whole "not being light after 430 PM" is the actual WORST. half the reason I shell out half a paycheck for board.

      Delete
  11. whether i ride or not has more to do with ground conditions than temperature or anything else. i do weekend chores at the farm, so i'm there anyway. if the (outdoor) arena is unrideable, we will usually haul out to an indoor.

    weekday evenings tho, when it's dark? if the sole lighted arena is frozen, i just don't bother. last year i left work early once a week so we could haul to an indoor during daylight hours just to ride 3x weekly (including hauling out on sat and sun if necessary), but even then there were days when we'd bow out bc of weather events... shit sucks ugh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You guys are hero's hauling out that often! #dedication

      Delete
  12. In Alberta, my lessons were cancelled at -4F or colder. Here in coastal BC, I don't think I've ever had to cancel anything due to cold ( I think 14F would be considered exceptionally cold here). Indoors at both places, but no heat.

    ReplyDelete
  13. For me in MI anything under 10*F is a walk only ride if you are up to it, it is also the cut-off for lessons. Anything over 10*F is okay when riding indoors, but the rider has to power through it too. Ha! I remember last year practicing dressage and thinking it was awfully cold but though it was 15*. Turned out it was 8 degrees, uh no wonder my cheeks were numb?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes our indoor feels COLDER than outside, idk how

      Delete
  14. In the BF of nowhere...love it! Stay warm and at least December wasn't hellacious!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I used to ride until 20* and then the ground in most of the indoors I got would get too hard. Also if it hurt my lungs or face I wasn't into it. Now that I don't have access to an indoor if it's 20* and windy at all I am still not going to ride. That's more my personal preference than any fear for breaking my horse. Having a 3yo doesn't make me feel exceptionally pressured to ride her when it's freezing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hell no I wouldn't either. its pointless!! And having a baby doesn't help

      Delete
  16. I'm in Virginia so the winter isn't too tough on us, but frozen ground is. My mare is barefoot and her feet are fairly flat, and she got a bad stone bruise last week while goofing off in the field with her girlfriends. Hence, walking on super hard, frozen outdoor arena sand is not her cup of tea. Fortunately it's usually only a few days before there's a good enough thaw to get in some good riding.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah I tried to pull shoes one winter and their feet got torn to hell. I'm glad you guys don't have too rough of winters!

      Delete
  17. If the roads are ok I'll go unless it gets under 20. Right now we are mostly lunging anyways because I'm a wimp

    ReplyDelete
  18. Winter has hit hard here too. It was in the 50s, and then suddenly it wasn't. Yesterday and Today has been in the 40s again, but it is going to get super cold again tomorrow. Weird weather is weird.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Currently, the high for tomorrow is 10* THE HIGH

      Delete
  19. I don't have an arena so I don't ride if it's raining, too muddy, too cold, too windy, etc. In other words I don't do much riding in the winter. I am NOT a winter person at all. I hate winter. Riding for me is supposed to be fun, so if the weather makes it not fun then what's the point (especially when I sit in my own house and shiver... why would I want to go outside)? That probably makes me a horrible horse owner since my horse needs exercise, but at least he's out 24/7... or so I tell myself so I don't hate myself haha. I'm glad you were able to move him to the boarding barn. It is so worth it for the arena, riding buddies and full care. Your barn sounds really amazing. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Winter is THE PITS.

      You're not a horrible horse owner at all!! At least he is out a little bit unlike my nugget

      Delete

There was an error in this gadget