The Cold is Coming: Winter Riding Survival

The thing about riding horses is we each have our own internal thermostats that determine how warm or cold we “feel.”  As Fall pushes certainly into the cold weather months we need to think ahead on our rides, as what starts out sunny and comfortable can quickly turn, wet, cold, and deadly.    A few tips follow to keep your ride safe:

  • On conditioning or winter pleasure rides always make a plan of where you are riding, and write it down.  Don’t vary your route from the plan.  In the even of an accident you could be found much more quickly if people know where to start looking.

  • Dress for the possibilities.   Remember that wool and wool blends will keep you warm.  Avoid cotton.  Dress in layers so that if you get too warm, you can peel one off, or add one on.  Be sure you have a  waterproof outer layer including your insulated boots.   Remember that with cold weather also comes hunting season, so add bright orange to your outer layers.   A bright vest,  and helmet cover will also make you more easily spotted if others are out looking for you.  It will also help you avoid being shot!   Insulated gloves that are rated for extremely cold temperatures will keep your fingers comfortable.  
  • Make sure your phone is fully charged.  Keep it in an easily accessible /secure place in case you need it in a hurry.

  • Take something to warm to drink, and something to eat with you on long rides.  If you have to get off and walk you will be glad you did.  A warm thermos of soup can heat up your internal core.

People are not the only ones that can get hypothermia.  A cold wet rain can soak your horse quickly to the skin.   A horse in motion will be warmer than a non-moving horse.  A water proof rump rug can keep the big muscles of the rump warm, and prevent cramping.  Upon return to the trailer a good rubdown and a waterproof blanket can assist your horse to warm up and keep body temp up for the drive home.  If you rode back to your own barn, most horses appreciate a nice warm wet-mash to heat them back up.

  • Avoid steep terrain, and be prudent concerning crossing streams.  Don’t trust that iced over waterways will support the load of your horse.  Even a shallow stream can pose a hazard to cutting your horse’s legs if the ice fragments, as well as the obvious dangers of drowning crossing ponds or deeper water ways.   Keep your route safe, and the footing easy on your horse.    
  • If riding in snow, check your horse’s hooves frequently for packed in snow.  You will want a hoof pick in your saddle bag.

Check out these informative links to keep you and your horse safe for winter riding.

Winter Horseback riding Tips
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Cold Weather Riding Tips
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Winter Riding Dangers and Staying Safe
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*Source Articles are linked and do not reside on this website.  The body of non-linked articles are the property of Green Bean ©.

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