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Confessions Of A Horse Mom

How cold is too cold?

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When the cold weather outside is frightful, and our warm houses so delightful, it leaves us horseback riders in a difficult position. To ride or not to ride? And how cold is too cold? The answer may surprise you.

Two major concerns come to mind in the cold weather, getting your horse very sweaty and injuring their lungs. Horses, however, have an incredibly long air passage; so when the air passes through the nostril to throat latch and then down the long neck, it allows the air to warm before reaching the lungs. That being said negative temps and overworking in the extreme cold can lead to lung burn just like it does in humans, ouch. So, how cold is too cold? Back in my college days in the New England area where it got extremely cold, we never got a day off due to plummeting temperatures. We put on our wool socks, tacked up and sucked it up.  Some outstanding circumstances included wind chill in the negatives and strong winds.

Preparing your horse adequately for your ride, and cooling your hot horse down are crucial to winter riding.  If your horse is clipped you will want to have a quarter sheet to help keep the warmth working within their muscles. Horses don’t have auto start, but just like our cars they need to be warmed up. Spend a good 15-20 minutes warming up your horse and yourself to get used to the bitter temperatures. Once you’ve completed your ride, walk your horse out until they’re completely cool. Of course a properly fitted cooler is helpful due to its ability to wick away moisture from your horse’s body. If your horse is still sweaty after you ride, dry them off the best you can. A wet horse can quickly become a sick horse especially if blanketed when still wet.

Truth is the temperature will be too cold for you before it will be too cold for your horse. So bundle up and stick to your horse’s workout schedule because horses thrive on routine. If it’s too cold for you, bring your horse inside and have what I like to call a “spa day.” It’s a great way to spend time with your beast and bond.

So my confession you ask? I never ride when it’s below 20.

 

May there always be a hoof print next to your foot print,

Christine

 

Mention or share this blog post and receive 40% off your purchase of any in stock cooler or quarter sheet at Hobby Horse Saddlery. 

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The authors horse Solmir, aka the mayor, 33 years young.

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TOP 5 Horse Care Tips in Cold Weather

IMG_8527If you have horses and live in the northeast, you’re probably very worried about the forecast for the next few days. The temperature is going to be in the single digits with a windchill in the negative teens. So how do you take care of your horse in this arctic cold weather? Here are my TOP 5 Horse Care Tips in Cold Weather to follow:

  • Make sure your barn or horses stall is well ventilated yet free from drafts. Try and bank your horses bedding up against the walls to reduce drafts that might chill him. Although horses are fairly hardy in the cold weather, cold winds can make them uncomfortable as well as spooky.
  • Hay! Hay digestion increases heat production which helps your horse stay warmer in the winter. Giving your horse extra hay in the winter is recommended as eating roughage warms him quickly, releasing heat as it’s digested.
  • Be sure to check that his drinking water is not frozen. Dehydration can cause numerous problems including causing your horse to colic. Horses will drink more water if it is warmed.

I make my senior horse a “hot toddy” consisting of warm water, a small handful of grain, some peppermint and whatever other goodies I can find. If he doesn’t get his concoction, I get “yelled” at as I’m trying to leave the barn!

  • Even though you may feel that it’s too cold to be outdoors, horses need outdoor time during winter. Your horse will be able to breathe fresh air and can adjust to the temperature changes on a regular basis.
  • Be aware of winter illness. As stated above, fresh air and adequate ventilation are key on keeping respiratory illness at bay. Also be on the lookout for any skin conditions that may be hidden under those blankets.

Get in lots of quality time with your horse. Even when the weather is not conducive to riding, be sure to groom and hang out with your horse. He’ll appreciate the company and it will keep the two of you in sync.  Winter can be an enjoyable time for horses as long as they are kept healthy and happy!

Stay tuned for my next post on exercise for your horse in the winter months. If you have weather related care questions or helpful care tips for your animal let us know, we want to hear.

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