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.
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|
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.