This is the first winter in a long time that I have had access to riding in an indoor (unheated) arena on a regular basis. Our past couple rides have led me to brush up on cold weather riding tips, to make sure I'm not forgetting anything.
We continue to consistently ride our horses 3X a week, last week was 4X for me. Typically pulling Koda & Nemo out of the turnout pasture before riding, and doing the usual things to prepare. With the added cold, we started keeping our bridles inside the house, and warming bits up as best we can once we get around to riding at the barn.
Cold weather warm ups & cool downs are longer, and our horses are not ridden hard. When we are finished riding our boys are typically warmish, but not sweaty. They go into their stalls, and not back outside. They live in the unheated wing of the barn. In the past I've used coolers (and even hair dryers) on other unclipped horses, but so far I haven't felt the need for them with these guys.
On my last ride, anything more then a walk brought on heavier breathing/panting and lasted ridiculously long. I wondered if it was the cold air? or possibly feed/water/boredom related? Outside low temps this past week have been around the twenties/teens, with the indoor arena warmer. Doubt I could handle the cold otherwise. I remember a past trainer mentioning something about air temp (below freezing?) being too cold for horses lungs. I've done some Googling on the subject, and found this to not be a concern. Regardless I started taking longer breaks, and was about to rule loping out - except this unusual breathing reminded me of our trail ride last Fall. Once again I wondered if something truly was bothering Koda, or if he figured out a way to work less. If that is even possible. Have you ever heard of a horse doing such a thing with breathing? Puffing out when cinching is the only semi-related thing I can think of, and that Koda sometimes does. Note; the conditions of the two mentioned rides are very different. I am such an over-thinking worry wart!
All the horses at the barn are being ridden inside with these temps. Haven't heard of any weather related issues. Nemo doesn't appear to have any cold weather riding concerns, unless you count the evil arena service door that just might eat him! No clue what brought this on either. It has made the beginning of the past several rides interesting for my hubby, with some serious convincing that the arena door is ok.
Before ending our ride, I decided to do a half arena lope transition to a half arena trot, into walk - both directions. Just to do a little loping and see how Koda handled it. He didn't seem to have a problem, so we walked around cooling down before ending our ride. Which leaves me wondering, and curious to see what Koda will be like next time...
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