Dr. Angie Yates of Yates Equine Veterinary Services in Indianapolis, IN, noted that she does not recommend trotting, cantering or jumping when temps are below 20 degrees F. A few considerations to take into account when riding in the cold: Frozen, icy ground is too hard on equine feet and legs for heavy work.
- Some riders are taking these studies as evidence that all riding should cease when temperatures are below 25-20 degrees F, while others are reading this post as justification to just bundle up and keep on training.
Can you ride a horse in 30 degrees?
They are hosed down frequently to stop dehydration and heat stroke; they are encouraged to remain in the shade. All rides are cancelled and re-sheduled for evenings or early mornings during our peak heat times ie. anything over +30 degrees.
At what temperature should you not ride a horse?
A rule of thumb is if the temperature and the humidity combined are above 180, riding isn’t recommended. If you do, though, watch for signs of dehydration and heat stroke in both yourself and your equine partner. Profuse or no sweating is one sign, along with elevated pulse and body temperature.
What temp is too cold to work a horse?
In fact, horses in good body condition can withstand temperatures down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit without difficulty. However, problems can occur when strong winds ruffle the horse’s hair and disturb the insulating layer of warm air trapped beneath it.
How cold is too cold to ride horses?
If it’s under 20-23 degrees, it’s advisable to walk only to avoid damaging your horse’s respiratory tract. Cooling down is equally vital. Even if your horse is clipped to allow him to work without sweating up a long, shaggy coat, an appropriate cool-down is essential.
How do I know if my horse is cold?
Common signs of your horse being too cold are:
- Shivering. Horses, like people, shiver when they’re cold.
- A tucked tail can also indicate that a horse is trying to warm up. To confirm, spot-check her body temperature.
- Direct touch is a good way to tell how cold a horse is.
Is it OK to ride a horse in hot weather?
Avoid riding a horse when the combined temperature and relative humidity is over 150. If you must ride a horse in hot and humid weather, or you live in an area where hot and humid weather is common, it’s key to: Don’t work the horse beyond its fitness level. Watch for normal sweating.
How many times a week should a horse be ridden?
For a horse and rider who require a moderate level of fitness, The horse should be ridden four days a week. At least two of the days should include a more intense workout while the other days could result in a slightly easier and less strenuous ride.
Can you ride a horse in the winter?
With careful preparation, riding in the winter can be enjoyable and safe. Some riding stables have an indoor riding arena, which eliminates the concern of icy footing and biting wind. With a barefoot horse, or one fitted with winter shoes, riding outside through snow-covered trails is a most enjoyable outdoor activity.
Can horses stay outside in the winter?
Horses can do fine living outside through the winter. Cold temperatures alone don’t generally make horses uncomfortable, but wind and moisture can be difficult for them to tolerate, so they must be able to escape the elements.
How do you warm up a cold horse?
How to Keep Your Horse Warm in Winter
- Shelter. A thick winter coat is a horse’s natural protection against the cold, providing natural insulation by trapping hot air against the skin.
- Water. Hydration plays a key role in keeping your horse warm in the winter.
- Warm and Happy.
What do you do with a horse in the winter?
Winter Activities to Try with Your Horse
- Take a bareback ride through the snow.
- Go for a sleigh ride!
- Give skijoring a try.
- Saddle up for a fun trail adventure.
- Teach your horse a trick, such as bowing, kissing or fetching.
- Give your horse a massage.
- Practice your clipping skills.
Are horses affected by wind chill?
During cold weather, the horse requires additional energy to maintain its internal body temperature and keep warm. Wind chill, moisture and coat thickness will affect the critical temperature. The horse’s thick winter coat has an insulating effect against cold and wind.
Do horses need a barn in winter?
While horses need shelter from cold winds, rain and snow; it is not necessary to keep them in a closed barn throughout the winter. With a three-sided shed, the horse can take shelter during a rain or snowstorm and its insulating hair remains dry and fluffed.
When should you clip a horse?
For the average horse the ideal time to clip is October, once their winter coat has come through. Depending on how quickly your horse’s coat grows will depend on how often you will need to clip. The average horse will need clipping every 3-5 weeks until Christmas to keep on top of hair growth.
How Cold Is Too Cold To Ride Horses?
Photograph courtesy of Lassi Matero/Shutterstock It’s true that winter is not the best time to go horseback riding, but even though the chilly weather seem to last forever, show and trail season will be here before you know it. Maintaining a little level of fitness throughout the season is beneficial to both you and your horse. What concerns should you bear in mind when cycling in the winter? When is it too chilly to go horseback riding?
Cold is Relative
Another person’s definition of “too chilly” may be another person’s definition of “just perfect.” North Dakota State University professor of equine science Carolyn Hammer, DVM, Ph.D. thinks horses are wonderful athletes who can perform well in cold weather. “Horses are amazing athletes that can perform well in cold weather,” she adds. “When you think about horses all around the world, you realize that they are subjected to a wide range of temperatures. For example, riders in the South may find temperatures below 20°F excruciatingly cold, while riders in the far North may not experience temperatures above 0°F for the bulk of the winter.” ” What precisely does it mean to be “too chilly to ride?” You might be shocked by what you find.
Danielle Smarsh, Ph.D., assistant professor of equine science and equine extension specialist at Penn State University, recommends that riders adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for preventing frostbite, noting that whether or not to ride is dependent on a number of variables.
Someone cycling in Minnesota will experience a different level of ‘too chilly to bike’ than someone riding in Georgia.
Shelley Paulson captured this image.
The Importance of Footing
Rather of relying on a single, hard and fast temperature cutoff for riding, you’ll need to consider a number of factors. When considering whether or not you can bike, examine your footing first. Frozen ground, as well as ice patches and thick snow, are all definite no-go areas. When it comes to winter footwear, Hammer adds, “that may absolutely be a problem.” “Be aware of ice, which can cause falls as well as slips and falls that can cause tendons and muscles to be stressed.” Riders should avoid intense exertion on hard, frozen ground since it might increase the risk of concussion and strain on the lower limbs and joints.
If the weather is below freezing, it is best to limit outside riding to a stroll unless the footing is so bad that riding is not possible in the first place. Always keep in mind that heavy snow can obscure risks and put additional strain on muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
To get technical riding clothing that will keep you safe and toasty, visit your local tack store or an internet supplier. Look for layers that trap heat, with wicking materials placed closest to the skin to keep you cool. Make certain that your stirrups are broad enough to support insulated riding boots before you use them. Winter clothing isn’t only for humans; horses too require particular equipment to stay warm in the cold. Snow rims or pads from the farrier may be required for shod horses in order to prevent snowballs from accumulating in the hooves.
- As Hammer points out, “keep an eye out for an accumulation of ice in the foot, which may develop in both shod and unshod horses.” “This makes it harder for the hoof to rest flat and adds additional stress and strain to the tendons,” says the author.
- In addition to pads for shod horses, she recommends that barefoot horses be fitted with hoof boots to protect their feet.
- In colder weather, a quarter sheet can be placed behind the saddle to keep the horse warm.
- It helps to keep the hindquarters warm, which is especially important during warming up.
- Don’t forget to warm up the bit first, either with your hands, in a heated environment, or with a bit-warming equipment, before tacking it up to the horse.
- Dusty Perin captured this image.
The Science Is In
Specifically, Hammer notes that “the majority of weather-related research in horses has concentrated on heat adaptation rather than cold.” At one research of horses exercising in -13°F (-25°C) conditions, she reports that there was no difference in heart rate response, muscle and rectal temperatures, lung structure, or any other signs of pain visible to the observer. Lower respiratory rates were seen at rest and during early activity, as well as lower blood temperatures throughout the study. “The bottom conclusion from these studies is that cold stress does not have a substantial impact on the aerobic capacity of the horse,” Hammer concludes.
According to her, “the horses used in the investigation had short hair coats.” “A lengthy winter coat may have altered heat conductivity and evaporation, which might have influenced the results,” says the researcher.
When it comes to hard exercise in cold weather, there is limited information available.
“When the temperature drops below 20°F, it may be best to limit your riding to strolling and gentle trotting to protect your respiratory health.”
Easy Does It
Even if you’re riding inside, you should consider a less vigorous session to save your horse from becoming overheated. Injury prevention is made easier with a progressive warming. Following that, walk under saddle or in-hand with a cooler until the horse has cooled off and dried off completely. Smarsh recommended that you spend at least 10 to 20 minutes warming up and then another 10 to 20 minutes cooling down. Additionally, Smarsh recommends that you ensure that your horse gets adequate water, particularly if he is working up a sweat during exercise.
Winter doesn’t have to mean putting your equestrian activities on hold if you use good judgment. For the most part, just because it’s winter doesn’t mean it’s too chilly to go horseback riding. Using common sense when riding in the winter is essential, advises Hammer. “Assess the conditions for safe footing, do a slow and progressive warming, and be cautious that your horse does not become chilly during the cooling out phase,” adds Hammer. “High winter coats may take a long time to dry; cutting portions of the coat that are prone to heavy perspiration helps to hasten the cool-down process,” says the author.
So get to work and earn your hot chocolate after your bike ride.
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Too Cold To Ride? Using Common Sense & Science
Kristen Kovatch captured this image. In response to a recent Facebook post from Yates Equine Veterinary Services, which has gone popular on equestrian social media, a discussion has erupted about whether temperatures should be deemed too cold for horses to be worked. Many equestrians, both on and off the field, have responded to the post with passionate debate, with many equestrians on both sides of the issue cherry-picking a few crucial facts to support their own beliefs. To assist readers make their own decisions in the midst of the United States’ strong cold snap (not to mention the upcoming “bomb cyclone,” whatever on earth it may be.), we’ll establish the facts, paired with common sense.
Written byYates Equine Veterinary Services on Friday, December 29, 2017 00:00:00 Thank you very much, Dr.
The tl;dr version in bullet points is as follows:
- The horse’s respiratory tract is intended to warm and humidify the air before it reaches his lungs, allowing him to breathe easier. Intense activity (anything more than a brisk stroll) causes breathing to become faster and deeper, resulting in air that is less warm and humid when it enters the lungs. Three investigations conducted by scientists revealed that horses’ respiratory systems can be injured by inhaling cold air (23 degrees Fahrenheit). It was shown that damage to the lower respiratory tracts had occurred 48 hours after exercise, including increased white blood cell counts and inflammatory substances, as well as a constriction of the passages. While the complete text of two of the three studies was not made accessible, the third research was conducted on nine horses on a treadmill in a climate-controlled environment and was made available. There is no other information provided about the horses. Dr. Yates points out that there have been no studies done in natural environments (outside) or in relation to horses’ acclimatization — for example, are horses who live outside in cold environments better acclimated to working in cold temperatures
- And there have been no studies done in relation to horses’ acclimatization.
When it comes to activity (trotting, cantering, and leaping), Dr. Yates has come to the conclusion that she will most likely avoid doing so when the temperature is below 20 degrees F.
Interpreting the results
Some riders are using these studies as proof that all riding should end when temps are below 25-20 degrees F, while others are viewing this post as justification to just bundle up and stay on training. Similarly to many other horse-related debates, the optimal course of action may be found somewhere in between. And while it is unclear how acclimation may effect a horse’s ability to operate in the cold, common sense should continue to guide the ride. When determining whether or not to ride in the cold, consider the following factors: How’s your footing right now?
No matter how pleasant the weather is, riding in ice conditions should be avoided at all costs.
Even though acclimatization was not taken into consideration in the studies mentioned above, I believe it is possible to argue that a horse transitioning from a heated barn to a cold outdoor arena would have a more difficult time both breathing cold air and physically and mentally settling in to work, whereas a horse that is kept outside 24/7 working in the same environment should be more likely to be ready to go.
What is the degree of fitness of your horse?
Exercise a fit horse in extreme cold may necessitate some innovative management; hand walking and ground work are effective strategies for protecting his respiratory system while keeping him mentally and physically engaged, especially if the horse is not the type that can be taken out for a snowy trail ride around the property.
- In this temperature, regardless of how well your horse has acclimatized, both his muscles and his respiratory tract require plenty of time to warm up.
- If the temperature is between 20 and 23 degrees, it is recommended that you walk just to avoid injuring your horse’s respiratory tract.
- Even if your horse’s coat is trimmed to prevent him from sweating through a long, shaggy coat, a proper cool-down is necessary after a hard day’s labor.
- Discretion is the better part of valor.
- (And those of us who are – I’m thinking of ranchers with animals to tend — may have horses who are used to working in the cold and so may not be as prone to respiratory harm — again, we’ll need another research to look into this).
- When making decisions in your riding life, take into consideration your own circumstances, your horse’s condition, and the weather forecast.
- More reading material may be found at: SmartPak: Consult with the Vet: Is it too cold to go riding?
When is it too cold to ride?
You should not abandon your riding plans because you are concerned about your horse’s health when the weather turns from crisp to downright chilly when the temps fall below freezing. The majority of horses may be ridden safely in the winter if you follow the following guidelines: Ice and snow may make footing more dangerous in cold weather. It can seem like a horse’s hooves are pressing into concrete, and mud that has been churned up but not frozen firm can twist joints and damage feet. Keep an eye out to check whether your horse has left any hoof prints in the turf that you are traveling over.
- Respiratory problems might be exacerbated by cold air.
- if your horse is already suffering from recurring airway blockage (also known as heaves), the cold air may aggravate the issue; thus, you should avoid taking him out on rides in temperatures below freezing until he is able to breathe more easily.
- In chilly temperatures, proper warm-ups take longer to complete.
- Heat is generated through increasing blood flow, and this process will take longer if you begin at lower temperatures than you intend to stay at.
- Keep in mind that a horse suffering from arthritis would feel stiffer in the colder weather conditions.
- If your arthritic horse’s condition does not improve after the first 20 minutes of a ride, the problem is not due to the weather.
- The original version of this essay appeared in EQUUS number 446 (November 2014).
Too Cold to Ride
Written by Will Clinging When I was younger and more resilient, I was content to bike in all types of weather conditions. If I’m being really honest, I’ve made my life riding, and it’s possible that I felt more forced to ride than I did excited to ride. Now that I’m a little older, I’ve learned to be a fair weather rider – or, at the very least, one who does not ride in harsh weather. When I was younger, I had a cutoff threshold of – 25 degrees Celsius. I’d use a hair dryer to warm up the bit before putting it in the horse’s mouth to make it more comfortable.
- I was quite a sight to behold!
- When I was a cowboy, things were different because I was responsible for the welfare of the herd.
- In the cowboy world, winter riding is a necessary part of life, and while it is generally tolerated, it is not necessarily liked.
- A beautiful day with snow outside may be really enjoyable, but when the wind blows, the snow piles up, or temperatures dip well below zero degrees Fahrenheit, riding becomes unenjoyably inconvenient.
- When it is really cold outside, there is a genuine risk of frostbite, and it can be difficult for your horse’s lungs.
- Because the ground might be difficult, there is a greater chance that your horse will slide or twist a leg.
- Image courtesy of Canstockphoto/Kyslynskyy The quantity of clothes required to keep warm reduces the rider’s ability to maneuver comfortably and will shorten his or her response time.
It is crucial to be aware that wearing winter boots demands larger stirrups, and that oversize boots can easily become trapped in a normal-sized stirrup if they are not taken into consideration.
When it comes to riding in inclement weather, we all have our own personal limits.
Many of my clients express regret for not being able to work with their horses when they are snowed in or have frozen rings, and I understand their feelings.
Although it is disappointing not to be able to do much with horses due to the weather, we may all enjoy it much more when conditions improve and it becomes possible to do so more frequently.
Even after a hectic summer and autumn, I have written about the need of giving a horse a break.
Equine trainees who had been in the middle of a training program will be able to continue where they left off.
People shouldn’t feel bad about not working their horses due of seasonal, harsh, and protracted weather, which is one of the reasons I’m writing this.
Photograph of the day: It can be exhiliarating to ride outdoors on a beautiful winter’s day, but riders should be mindful of the risks of winter riding, and should not feel guilty about giving their horses time off when the weather is bad.
How Cold is Too Cold To Ride Your Horse in the Winter?
It’s so cold that every time you take a breath in, your nostrils stick together. Despite the fact that you’re wrapped up to the point that you look and feel like a lump with a riding helmet on top, your fingers are so stiff and achy that you can barely hold onto the reins. Welcome to a Canadian winter cold snap. While most “regular” people prefer to stay indoors when the temperatures drop to dangerously low levels, many equestrians feel obliged to continue riding no matter how bleak the weather prediction seems.
- It’s generally known human athletes can suffer cold-induced airway inflammation (also dubbed ski asthma), whether or not they encounter difficulty in fairer temperatures.
- U.K.-based physiologist and biochemist, Dr.
- Many horse owners are unaware of the fact that the horse’s lungs are being damaged by the cold,” says the author.
- Much study was being done at the time over fears that horses would suffer with the location’s heat and humidity.
- He is the organization’s primary climate management advisor.
- “I’ve also done some research in colder climates,” says the author.
Well, That Doesn’t Seem Cold for a Horse
Normally, a healthy horse should be able to tolerate cold air when at rest, walking, or even trotting to some level. Evolution has guaranteed that when horses breathe in via their noses, even chilly air with a low moisture content is warmed and humidified by the upper respiratory tract before it reaches the lungs, ensuring that even the coldest air with a low moisture content does not enter the lungs. Whenever a horse is compelled to strain himself, he inhales fast and deeply, which means that the body does not have the time to warm the chilly air.
- Increased mucous production and thickness contribute to the worsening of airway obstruction.
- Chronic respiratory problems may result as a result of the disability.
- Marlin explained.
- They do, to be sure, but they don’t go cantering around too much.
- A wild horse will stroll almost entirely of the time, with just a little amount of trotting and cantering.
- Horses that have been domesticated will walk a little bit, but they will mostly trot and canter instead.
Marlin was involved in a study at Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine that found that the lungs of fit horses exercising on a treadmill while breathing air from a special delivery system could be damaged at temperatures between plus 4°C and plus 5°C, which many Canadians would consider to be quite pleasant.
“The way most horse people tend to see cough is that when you take your horse out from the stable and you start riding, most horses cough.
That is out of the ordinary.
“Healthy horses do not cough,” Dr. Marlin explained. “If you look at these horses that have one or two coughs when they start exercising, and you scope them, you’ll very much always find that they have airway inflammation that has to be addressed. Cough should never be overlooked in horses.”
Practical Cold Weather Tips for Horse Care
So, what does this imply for you and your horse, and how can you prepare? It is estimated that Canadian equestrians would spend less time in the saddle if they avoided riding in temperatures below 4°C and 5°C. However, horses are unable to do so because they lack the ability to use scarves or mask to warm and moisten the air that they breathe because they are not riders. Consequently, we must do a risk assessment on their behalf. Dr. Marlin recommends that athletes refrain from exercising during very cold periods since the lower the temperature, the less moisture in the air, and, as a result, the greater drying effect on the airways is likely.
- Winters in Winnipeg, Manitoba are the coldest in any large Canadian city, a reputation that is debatably earned by the city of Toronto.
- On her family’s Cloud 9 Ranch in Steinbach, some 60 kilometers southeast of Winnipeg, Tara Reimer teaches western and English riding and vaults.
- “Lessons continue regardless of the temperature,” Reimer explained, “but, when the temperature drops below -30°C, they are transferred into a heated barn and become ground lessons.” The Reimers themselves ride in all gaits up to -25°C and walk/trot up to -32°C in extreme cold conditions.
- Marlin also recommends riding during the warmer parts of the day and keeping a close eye out for symptoms of respiratory distress in some horses, particularly those that:
- Animals suffering from respiratory problems such as equine asthma – also known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), recurrent airway obstruction (RAO), and, more commonly, heaves – are not allowed to be kept. A history of moderate to severe exercise-induced pulmonary hemorhage (bleeding)
- A history of pulmonary hemorrhage (bleeding) during pregnancy. Animals that are old, infirm, or young
Dr. Marlin pointed out that many horses might have moderate to severe respiratory disease without displaying any signs of illness. A horse that is worked hard at canter or gallop but does not cough or produce nasal discharge does not always suggest that it is unaffected by the stress. “It’s the same with humans,” says the author. There will be horses who are quite tolerant of the cold, and there will be horses that are really sensitive to it,” she says.
Other Equine Cold Considerations
In addition to respiratory problems, there are several other significant considerations to consider when riding in cold weather. Increase the amount of time riders spend warming up their horses because muscles, ligaments, and tendons take longer to loosen and limber than other body parts. “Essentially, what it implies is that you’ll be spending more time walking,” Dr. Marlin explained. If you regularly walk for 10 minutes and then trot for 5 minutes before entering the canter, you should aim to double that time – 15 to 20 minutes walking and 5 to 10 minutes trotting – to get the most out of your horse.
- A gentle, progressive cool down is also suggested, especially for horses who are unclipped or have shaggy coats.
- “All of our horses are kept outside, but after nighttime riding in the winter, they must frequently be brought inside to dry off.” According to Dr.
- Despite the fact that deep snow may give excellent resistance training, it can also put a horse at danger of injury.
- Ice, of course, should be an absolute no-go zone.
- “If we look at horses cantering or galloping on grass or soft terrain, we will notice that the foot has a propensity to slip.
- So, one again, if you have a horse that is arthritic, or has a tendency to bruise soles or to have full legs, it is possible that you will not be assisted.” Walking your horse outside in chilly weather is, like with so many other aspects of life and horses, a matter of common sense.
If you’re feeling cold all over and the air is making your lungs hurt, reduce the intensity of your workout significantly or skip it altogether if possible. It’s unlikely that your horse would object to a little more rest and relaxation.
Can Horses Get Frostbite?
Frostbite is another issue that some horse owners are concerned about during the colder months. Learn more about how to avoid it by clicking here.
When is it Too Cold to Ride Your Horse?
Bricole Reincke’s horse Tessa enjoys wearing her Noble Outfitters Turnout Blanket when the weather turns cold.Cold weather riding is a hot topic of discussion in the horse world, with some riders refusing to ride their horses until the weather warms up and others believing that their horses can handle all but the coldest weather.Determining how cold is too cold to ride your horse is ultimately up to you, but there are some thins out there to consider.
- As a starting point, the respiratory system of a horse is intended to warm and humidify the air that enters the nose before it is delivered to the lungs.
- Secondly, research have shown that horses’ lungs can be damaged by air that is cooler than 23 degrees Fahrenheit when they are in the stall or stable.
- Because these studies were all conducted on horses in their native surroundings, it is probable that horses living in colder places will be better accustomed to lower temperatures.
- For horses, a surface that is great in warmer weather may be too harsh on their legs if they are required to undertake any substantial work in colder weather.
Working in Colder Weather
Despite the fact that you should always consider these considerations when determining whether or not to take your horse out riding in chilly weather, you should ultimately use your best judgment in this situation. If you do decide to go horseback riding in the cold, you will need to allow more time for your horse to warm up before you ride. When it’s particularly cold outside, take a 10- to 15-minute walk to warm up before getting to any heavy lifting or labor. Avoid riding your horse if it is elderly and out of condition even if you believe it will be pleasant for your riding needs.
Is It Too Cold To Ride?
This appears to be a hotly discussed issue, and I was intrigued to find out what the consensus was. When it comes to Winter riding, the most prevalent fear I’ve heard is that the cold air would damage the horse’s lungs. According to one post from the SmartPak Ask The Vet blog published in 2014, research have revealed that inhaling cold air frequently and fast can create severe stress on the horse’s respiratory system. Exercise induces quicker breathing, which means the horse’s respiratory system has less time to warm the air before it reaches the lungs.
However, there are two things that should be mentioned: 1) For the purposes of the study, “cold” is defined as 23 degrees Fahrenheit; and 2) in one of the trials, the horses cantered on a treadmill for more than 15 minutes, which may not be the type of exercise that a normal cold weather rider would undertake.
- Even a short, vigorous walk can have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular and central nervous systems.
- When you take too much time off, it feels like you are beginning over in terms of training, even though she is 19 years old!
- Here are a couple of the previously stated factors that I have seen discussed in other posts on a number of occasions.
- If your horse is out of shape, it is very unreasonable to require him to work even more to breathe in the lower weather.
- It takes longer for blood to circulate when temperatures are lower, therefore it is important to warm up before exercising.
- Before putting your horse away or blanketing him, make sure he is completely dried off and clean.
- The hooves and legs of a horse might seem like they are walking on concrete when the ground is hard and frozen.
Also, be cautious of footing that appears to be frozen churned-up mud or snow.
It is also crucial to consider whether or not your horse is used to the local climate.
According to a few quick surveys on my Instagram account, the vast majority of us are still riding during the winter months.
The important lesson is that while you are riding your horse in severe temperatures, whether it is hot or cold, you must exercise common sense and pay close attention to how your horse is responding.
** Following graduation from Wake Forest University School of Law in 2007, Andrea Wise worked as a commercial real-estate attorney for seven years before returning to school.
She is also the author of the new equestrian lifestyle blog, Horse Glam, which she founded with her sister.
Andrea lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, Zach, two young children, a cat named Chloe, and a horse named Chloe, who she calls her horse. The featured image was taken by @Warmbloodsandwine.
How cold is too cold to ride a horse?
During a winter training, a steaming hot horse is provided. Is it really that hot in here? “data-image-caption=”” data-medium-file=” data-large-file=” loading=”lazy” src=” alt=”Jac is HOT” data-image-caption=”” data-medium-file=” data-large-file=” loading=”lazy” src=” alt=”Jac is HOT” data-image-caption=”” data-medium-file=” data-large-file=” loading=”lazy” data-image-caption=”” data ” width=”300″ height=”300″ width=”300″ height=”300″ srcset=” 500w, 150w, 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px”> srcset=” 500w, 150w, 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px”> Steamy Jac having a breather before continuing in the opposite direction.
- I attended an equine college, and on very chilly days, we attempted to persuade the faculty that it was too cold to ride.
- The two most common concerns people have when it is cold are that the horses’ lungs will be damaged and that they will become sweaty.
- The riding instructors instructed us to use coolers on the horses; a blanket type set up with moisture wicking capabilities, such as wool or wicking synthetic, to both keep them warm and speed up the drying process to avoid them from being chilled throughout the ride.
- The cooler is not dirty in the photo; the white dusty appearance is generated by moisture coming up and resting on top of the cooler rather than on him.
- While searching for information, I came across a nice article on Discoverhorses.com that quoted Dr.
Cold Weather Riding
Winter has here, yet the majority of us still want to go riding. The following information is for those of us who are unable to spend the colder months of the year in warmer regions of the country. It includes information on the effects of cold weather riding on your horse as well as how to keep him healthy and safe despite the cold temperatures.What temperature is truly considered cold? Cold is just as cold as you are in relation to your location. Riders in Florida may shiver at 50°F, and riders in Minnesota would not think twice about tacking when the thermometer reads 0°.
- Wind, snow, ice or rain will intensify the effect of the cold.What does exercising in cold weather do?
- Bodily systems react in distinct ways.
- In fact, horses are employed as an animal model for human pulmonary research due to the similarity of the equine lung function to the human pulmonary function.
- These research were aimed to replicate the circumstances that human athletes who compete in cold weather, such as skiers, are subjected to.
- This happens as a result of acute airway blockage, when cold air enters the lungs and causes tissue damage.
- In the OSU equine research, horses were trained on a treadmill while inhaling cooled (4°C) air.
- After exercising, a bronchoalveolar lavage was conducted to screen for inflammation, cytokines (chemicals that can harm the lungs) and chemicals that can decrease the immune function in the lungs and lead to infection.
These findings also show that airway cooling and desiccation, which are widespread in horse athletes, may be a contributing reason to the airway inflammation that they experience.
The study did not discover an increase in inflammatory cells, but because the cellular response takes longer to manifest itself, it is possible that the study did not last long enough for this to occur.
The evidence also raises the potential of local inhibition of cell-mediated immunity due to increased production of interleukin-10.
Essentially, the take-home lesson from these research is that horses’ lungs can be harmed when they are subjected to vigorous activity in frigid environments.
Cardiovascular: When exposed to cold, the cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels) responds by raising blood pressure and increasing heart rate.
Frostbite can occur as a result of decreased blood supply to the skin.
Musculature and Joints: Muscles take longer to warm up in cold weather, and arthritic joints may ache and require more time to loosen up.
You should continue to use any joint supplements that your horse typically receives even if you are riding less than you would in the warmer months if you are out riding.
Consider using a quarter sheet to cover the hindquarters of your horse if you have one available.
When this happens, the decision of whether or not to clip arises.
An overheated horse will get extremely chilly in cold weather if it is not properly cooled down and dried.
Energy and Calories: Exercising in cold weather requires more energy than exercising in warm weather does.
Once this is depleted, the body will begin to turn fat into energy, which is less effective than glucose.
Hydration: The amount of water consumed by an equine athlete who will be exercising in cold weather should be closely checked.
If your horse is dehydrated, flavored electrolytes in feed or water may encourage him to drink more.
That, in turn, will make it more difficult for his already-overworked heart to attempt to work even harder in order to pump less blood in the future.
It’s not good to have a water trough that is completely frozen!
Feet: Exercise caution when there is ice or snow on the ground.
If your horse is shod, you may want to consider using snow pads to prevent snow and ice from building up on the bottoms of his shoes.
A coating of Borium on the shoes, together with caulks if necessary, can improve traction.
Common sense and knowledge of how cold weather affects him will enable you to develop a cold weather exercise regimen that will keep your horse fit, happy, and safe, while also allowing you to stay in the saddle throughout the winter.
The information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for evaluation by an equine professional.
Horse owners should seek advice and treatment for their horses’ medical needs from a licensed veterinarian, such as TEVA, in order to ensure that their horses’ health is not jeopardized.
When it’s Too Cold To Ride
There are some of us who live in climates that produce terrible winter weather – when it’s just way too cold or rainy, or snowy, or icy to ride your horse.No one wants to go outside, and braving the elements is at the top of your “don’t want to do” list.But if you do manage to get to the barn, there are a few things to look out for, as well as a few things that can help your pony weather the storm.
- Hydration of your horse friend is key! The horse’s water supply will need to be kept as tasty as possible.Recent studies have discovered that most horses prefer cold water, but will drink more water when it is warm.Utilize those bucket insulators and water tank heaters, and if necessary, cart some warm water from the wash rack or the house to keep him hydrated and happy.
- If you can, find a shady spot out of the wind to groom your horse.If it’s safe, you can peel back his blanket(s) to curry and brush his body.Grooming will stimulate his brain, muscles, and blood supply.It will also alert you to any strange behavior that he may be experiencing during a period of extremely bad weather.
- Depending on your facility and how truly horrible the weather is, a hand walk is a good option for your horse.Even getting out of a stall and into a cross tie or doing a lap around the arena can help his legs stretch and alleviate any boredom he may be experiencing.Of course, always be safe and avoid walking outside if there is even the slightest possibility of ice or dangerous footing. If you are lucky enough to have an indoor arena or a covered arena, a controlled hand walk or controlled light lunge is safer than a turnout.Plus, a wild bronc turnout frequently leads to a sweaty horse which entails drying time in dreadfully cold temps.Not enjoyable
- Recall that proper ventilation in a barn is essential for respiratory health. If you are in any doubt, you may (perhaps) moisten his hay and use a dust-free bedding to reduce the amount of dust. Often, just lifting his food from the ground to chest height can assist in eliminating dust from his bedding.
Snow and ice on a winter paddock
- Maintain your horse’s interest! If your horse is stuck in the barn due to a storm, entertain him with boredom-busting toys and hay nets to keep him entertained. He will also benefit from additional forage because it will keep his body warm from the inside out.
- These are excellent days to put your massage techniques to the test on your horse. Who doesn’t enjoy a good massage every now and then? You can also complete projects that have been put off for a long time, such as deep cleaning tack and organizing the tack room.
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When To Cancel Riding Lessons Due To Cold
Because it’s been cold and snowy here lately, it seems appropriate to write a post about when to cancel riding lessons due to the weather! It’s a topic that comes up every winter in the online forums, so I was excited to find a lot of responses and personal experiences from which to source the content of this post, for both typical and adaptive riding lessons. I hope you find this information useful, whether you are an instructor working on your own and making decisions on a client-by-client basis, or whether you are a program administrator developing a cold weather cancellation policy.
Final conclusion: When it comes to deciding when to cancel lessons, there is no “one size fits all” approach that works for everyone.
So I’m listing a bunch of considerations to think about to help your decision and policy formation; I’m sure it’s not comprehensive, but does cover a lot!
- Wind chill factor – take this into account when riding outdoors
- Walking around the arena, riding in it, and looking for frozen ice patches under the snow to determine whether the footing is safe or not is recommended when temperatures are below freezing. Using calcium chloride, sand, or mag flakes to plough the arena may be beneficial
- In the barn/arena, the temperature should be taken into consideration rather than the outside temperature or wind chill factor. heaters and insulation – if your barn has them this will enable your ride in lower temps
- Remind clients that your arena’s temp is different than the temp they see on their weather app, so you will be in communication with them about when you cancel
- Temperature of the aisle – whether your aisle is cold, warm, or heated will have an impact on how well the horses can dry off after lessons, how comfortable your volunteers will be, and whether or not you can hold lessons and what type of lessons you can hold.
Temperature Some programs have a clear cutoff temperature that they use to determine their cancellation policy. Other programs or individual instructors take extra aspects into consideration, but observe a trend between temperatures and cancellations and what specific riders can manage. According to the majority of people who participated in the Facebook forums, the temperature at which they tend to cancel is as follows:
- Depending on the location, humidity, and other factors, the temperature in the outdoor arena may range from 25° to 45°F or lower. Indoor arena, client with no disabilities: 10°-15°F or below (in northern regions such as Canada, Minnesota, and other places, 10°F or less was frequently used as the cutoff temperature)
- Indoor arena, client with disabilities:20°F or below, sometimes 25°-30°F depending on the rider
- Temperatures in the heated indoor arena and barn: 5° and below
Forecast A forecasted high temperature may be taken into consideration by some instructors, particularly if they have previous experience with what that means in terms of temperatures. For example, if the temperature is not expected to rise above a certain level, they know that it will not be warm enough to ride all day and so they cancel all lessons for the day. However, if the forecast calls for a high temperature that is significantly different from the current one, they understand that they will have to wait and see before making a decision on a client by client, time of day basis.
When it’s 45° in Florida, it feels considerably different than when it’s 45° in Michigan.
Also, if your barn is in the sun and warms up quickly, as opposed to if it is in a valley in the shade all day and remains cold, consider the following: Consequently, it is difficult to compare your cancellation policy to that of another place — you do what is best for you, your clients, and the horses in your care!
), the weather might play a role — whether it’s pouring, snowing, blizzarding, sunny, or any combination thereof.
The weather will have an impact on the road conditions as well!
I know many programs follow the local public school’s criteria, since if they cancel it implies the roads are not safe enough to drive on. Clients Don’t forget to think about your customers! Some programs will be canceled based on the circumstances of the individual, not only the temperature.
- Age– younger riders may be less able to withstand the cold, and you don’t want to have a cranky student on your hands while teaching. To make a decision, consult with the parent. Riders with disabilities or in poor health may be unable to cope with the cold as effectively as others. When it’s cold, someone with asthma may have difficulty breathing, and someone with high tone may find themselves feeling tight as a result of the weather change. In the case of particular limitations, there may be precautions or contraindications to using the cold medication. Dressing – whether or not the rider is able to dress correctly for the cold. Some young riders may find it difficult to ride effectively while dressed in bulky winter clothing. There may be some riders with sensory issues who are unable to put on winter clothing or gloves.
However, the key is that the cold will eventually eliminate the advantage of learning, and you must determine when this will occur. I recommend that you consult with the client, parent, or caregiver to determine what is best for him or her. I’ve had riders whose lessons were noticeably different because of the cold still come for lessons because their parents saw the benefits of it at home.VolunteersConsider how well your volunteers handle cold weather and how long they can comfortably be in the barn or aisle at certain cold temperatures.
- Turnout– If your horses were unable to be turned out due to cold weather, or if they were put out but were unable to move around much because of the hard footing, they may present a safety hazard owing to their surplus energy. Before lessons, one alternative is to let the horses gallop around in the indoor ring, a few at a time, to burn off some of their excess energy. When it’s chilly outside, horses require a little more warm-up time. If they don’t receive it, they’ll be more difficult to handle and their gaits will be stiffer, which will negatively effect the lesson. Temperature– Horses may or may not be affected by changes in temperature. The majority of instructors stated that their horses are alright at any low temperature
- It is the riders who are canceled. Other instructors, however, have cited research that suggests that horses can suffer airway damage when working at a high rate in temperatures between 25 and 23 degrees Fahrenheit (I do not have a source for this, however), so avoid doing a lot of canter or trot work in those temperatures.
Please see my blog post here: Keeping Horses Comfortable During Winter Lessons for additional information on handling horses in cold weather. Program Your cancellation policy may be affected by the programs you use.
- Session times are available all year
- You may be more lenient with you or your riders if it is particularly cold. Clients who sign up for quarterly sessions are aware that the weather will be cold, so you may be less lenient with cancellations and more explicit about your cancellation policy
- Clients who sign up for monthly sessions are unaware that they will be cold.
How to Handle Cancellations in the Workplace Here are some suggestions for how to deal with the actual cancellation itself:
- Communicate early– the more communication you have, the better, so you don’t have a million clients contacting you at the same time as you are. If you know you’ll be absent for the entire day, notify everyone as soon as possible. When in doubt, send a quick message to clients in the morning stating that you are aware of the iffy weather conditions and that you are keeping an eye on them, as well as a time frame by which you will inform them of your decision
- Touch base with each client on an individual basis– connect with each client on an individual basis. If cancellation is possible, inquire as to when they would prefer to make the call – they may have alternate plans, and 4 hours versus 1 hour makes a significant difference in how quickly they respond
- Check again– some instructors stated that they requested their clients to phone them before leaving for the barn in order to make a final choice.
Adaptations for Riding Lessons in the Cold Weather Bonus stuff is available! Listed below are some excellent suggestions I discovered for getting through cold-weather riding lessons, listed in no particular order:
- Timing is important
- Lessons should not be scheduled during the coldest part of the day. When I was at one barn, they ended their evening lessons in the winter quarter one week earlier than they did in the summer quarter. To keep your riders and volunteers warm, make sure you have hot or cold drinks, a warm room, hand warmers, toe warmers, extra knit gloves, salt the parking lot, and other small extras available. Keep Warm– for suggestions on how to keep yourself and the instructor warm during lessons, check out this forum discussion. Carry Out Ground Lessons– Many organizations have said that if it is too chilly to ride, they will provide ground lessons. This could take place in a warm classroom, a warm stall, or a combination of the two environments. For ideas on how to teach ground lessons, see these posts:
- The Ultimate List of Equine Groundwork Lesson Activities is compiled here for your convenience. Currying Session at the Equine Spa
- “Ground School Curriculum,” a post by EAAT Curriculumsreview, is available online. Gallop Rainy Day Activities in New York City can be found here. Posting of Lesson Plans for Groundwork
- Instruct students in horsemanship and groundwork skills
- Groundwork activities for grooming, tacking, and leading
- And horsemanship and groundwork games. Ideas for Horse Camps
- Crafts to do on a rainy day or while at horse camp
Specific groundwork program– some programs close for the winter months and reopen with a groundwork-only curriculum, often including an online learning component as an alternative. One program used a primarily online format, with riders learning lessons at their own pace and then participating in a hands-on review session once a month. Using a practice horse to practice riding on is a great way to save money on horse lessons. See if you can come up with any suggestions by posting them here: The Practice Horse is a horse that is used for practice.
Raise the temperature of the indoor arena and barn with radiant heaters, so that your riders can stay warm or take breaks under the heat of the heaters.
Riders that like to ride bareback will find that sitting directly on the horse is much warmer than riding with a saddle in between, and even using a bareback pad will be warmer!
Aside from being a magical experience, your rider may be less afraid of falling off because there will be snow to land in when they do.
What criteria does your program use to determine whether to cancel lessons?
**************** Please keep in mind that this is not professional advise, but rather a blog.
Depending on the present condition and resources of each rider, riding teacher, and riding center, the activities described in this blog may not be appropriate for each individual.
Make use of your finest individual judgment! You may email me here if you would like to offer an activity or article. I would be delighted to receive your contribution!