by Christy Mellington
Riding in the wintertime can be a little challenging. However, with a little planning and common sense, it can be fun for all!
TIPS FOR YOU
1) It is always warmer saddling your horse than it is riding him! Remember to dress in layers for warmth. I always ride in chaps in cold weather, it’s an extra layer for your legs and helps block the wind.
2) Tie an extra jacket and coat on behind your saddle. I ride western and have strings on my saddle, which makes this really simple. Also, keep a pair of insulated gloves and a stocking hat in your saddlebags.
3) If you are unsure about your horse standing while adding or removing layers of clothing, dismount and hold onto him.
4) Wear your riding boots and insulated socks. DO NOT ride in snow boots! Insulated riding boots are available if you ride a lot in the cold weather.
5) Use your best judgment when it comes to where to ride. Do not attempt to ride on slick or icy surfaces.
6) Always dismount and lead your horse across snowy pavement.
TIPS FOR YOUR HORSE
1) Keep your horse well groomed to keep his thick winter coat clean. This will reduce the possibility of galling him.
2) Pick his feet well and apply a thin coat of Vaseline to his sole if you are riding in the snow. This will help prevent snow balling up in his hooves.
3) When cinching up, make sure that you are not pulling any of his long hair with the buckles.
4) Warm his bit. A frozen bit can stick to the tongue and make painful sores. Run your bit under warm water or simply stuff your bridle in your jacket while grooming and tacking up.
5) Ride your horse easy in cold weather, avoid working him hard enough to get him all wet and sweaty.
6) When crossing creeks, try to cross where the water is lowest and do not ask your horse to stand too long in the chilly water.
7) After your ride, rub your horse down well (he will probably be a little damp from sweat under your saddle). Blanket him until he is totally dry.
8) A nice warm bran or oatmeal mash is a great reward for a job well done!
Just because the weather is a little chilly, don’t let the season keep you out of the saddle! Experiencing a winter wonderland on horseback is just about as good as it gets! Now, get out there and make some Happy Trails!