Many areas in the United States have winters that bring cold weather, snow, or ice. If you live somewhere cold, you want to make sure you are extra careful if you decide to go winter horseback riding. Being unprepared can lead to a bad ride or worse, an injury for you or your horse.
Consider the following tips to ensure that your winter rides are as amazing as your rides in warmer weather:
Grooming Includes Grip
If you are planning to ride on slippery ground, consider special horseshoes. The best ones have special pads to prevent snowballs as well as ice bruising on the horse’s soles. Some horse owners choose to put ice calks on the front hooves only, leaving the hind hooves bare (but trimmed).
Groom your horse thoroughly prior to heading out onto winter trails. Check your horse’s feet to make sure they are snow and ice-free. If you keep your bridles in unheated stables, remember that a frosty bit can be uncomfortable for your horse. Warm the bit with your hands before putting it into the horse’s mouth.
Judge the Ground Before You Set Out
Going for rides in the snow is not a problem for horses. But, you want to know that there is not a sheet of ice concealed beneath the snow. Make sure you are very familiar with the trail you will be riding on since snow will keep you from seeing the terrain.
You want to make sure your horse will have secure footing for the entire ride. Remember, your horse has to work harder when there is snow on the ground. As such, plan your time and speed accordingly. Think about how difficult it is for you to walk through inches of snow. Remember, it is the same for your horse. Only he is also carrying a person.
Allow for Extra Time
You want to work your horse at a slower pace to prevent him from sweating as much. This is because sweating in the cold can cause harm to your horse. Horses take much longer to cool down, and their thick coats will remain wet for much longer.
After the ride, do not turn your horse out until he is dry. This may require blanketing the horse to wick moisture away from its coat.
Keep Yourself Warm
Dress in layers that can be easily removed as you warm up. In particular, keep your ears, hands, and feet warm. Nothing will ruin your ride quicker than finding yourself shivering on the trail. Thin wool and fleece layers are better than cotton, which stays wet when you sweat. Other warm weather gear includes:
- Ear warmers
- Warm gloves
- Insulated boots
- Additional underlayers
Hydration for You and Your Horse
Make sure you and your horse are both well-hydrated before you set out. Bring water, or a hydrating sports drink to keep yourself hydrated throughout the ride. Bring a quick snack, such as a granola bar, if you will be riding for very long.
Prepare for the Sun
As a final tip, don’t forget the sunscreen and sunglasses before you set out. Even though it’s winter, there are still UV rays shining down. The white blanket of snow can intensify those rays.
Follow the above tips, and your winter horseback riding adventures will create the kind of memories you will never forget.
Interested in Riding a Horse? Call Us Today!
At Bear Creek Stables, we can help make your winter horseback riding extremely enjoyable. From children and new beginners to seasoned riders, we can offer you a riding experience you will never forget. When you need a family-friendly stable to board your horse or learn to ride, contact Bear Creek Stables! We offer San Jose horseback riding lessons, summer camps, and more. Call us today at 408-872-8238 or fill out our confidential contact form.