8 Winter Horseback Riding Tips for You and Your Horse
Embarking on a winter horseback riding adventure can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. There’s just something about enjoying the beauty of the winter landscape while in the saddle that creates special moments between horse and rider.
To help ensure the safety and comfort of you both, it’s important to incorporate some of our team’s trusted winter horseback riding tips into your routine:
- Start with a Proper Warm Up – Before a winter ride, horse warm up exercises are essential. Since cold muscles and joints are more prone to injury, be sure to properly warm up your horse. Start with some light groundwork exercises or horse lunging to loosen up your horse’s muscles and get their blood flowing.
- Check Footing and Terrain Conditions – Icy patches and slippery surfaces go hand-in-hand with winter weather. Be sure to always check the footing and terrain in your riding area to make sure the conditions are suitable for you and your horse’s safety. If possible, try to avoid riding on frozen or hard surfaces.
- Select Suitable Horse Tack – Keep your horse comfortable for an enjoyable winter ride with horse tack that fits well and is appropriate for the season’s cooler temperatures. You’ll find that padded saddle pads help protect against colder weather, while helping to provide comfort. To help regulate your horse’s body temperature during warm-ups and cool-downs, we suggest using horse blankets or horse sheets.
- Protect Yourself with Layers – The key to staying warm and cozy during winter horse rides is to dress in layers. Begin by selecting a moisture-wicking base layer that transports sweat away from your skin, keeping you dry and comfortable. Then, add an insulating layer for warmth and top it all off with a windproof and waterproof outer layer for added protection from the elements.
- Make Your Rides Shorter – When it’s cold, it’s a good idea to plan shorter rides to help avoid overexertion for you and your horse. In extremely cold temperatures, consider reducing the intensity of your workouts.
- Monitor Your Horse’s Comfort Level – It’s important to pay close attention to your horse’s body language and behavior throughout the ride. Be alert to signs of discomfort including stiffness, resistance, or shivering. If you or your horse become too cold, it’s time to end the ride and provide appropriate care.
- Ensure Proper Hydration and Nutrition – Like in warmer weather, it’s just as important in colder weather to ensure your horse has access to fresh water. Make sure your horse is drinking sufficient water to stay hydrated and provide adequate forage to help in generating body heat for better digestion.
- Cool Down the Right Way – You may wonder how to cool a horse down after a winter ride. It’s important to always cool down your horse slowly. Walk your horse until their breathing and heart rate return to normal. Gradually cooling down your horse helps prevent muscle stiffness and aids in the recovery process.
Safety should always be top-of-mind when riding your horse, especially in winter conditions. If the weather becomes too extreme, it’s best to skip the ride and wait for more suitable conditions. Enjoying the winter wonderland with your horse can be an exhilarating way to connect. By prioritizing your horse’s well-being and following the tips in this article, you’ll be poised for success this winter and beyond.