cold weather riding

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...


Shirley said...

I guess you can just monitor how he does on the next few rides, but it doesn't really sound like much of a problem as long as his overall health seems good.
I am about to start hauling to the local indoor arena, it is about the only place to ride right now.

aurora said...

Koda didn't do anything unusual last night. In fact we had a nice ride! The only notable difference was there were other people around, and another horse riding in the arena. It was plenty cold. Interestingly our trainer mentioned all the horses were off on the aforementioned day, before I even said anything about his breathing. Judging by the smile she gave Koda while petting him, she attributes it to antics. I'll monitor, and see if I can piece things together.

allhorsestuff said...

I can't help but wonder what kind of stall bedding does the stable use? Pantz my sisters mare developed a rather serious condition with breathing (horsey COPD) because of the wood pelleted kind of bedding. The pellets are a treated wood product and becomes a fine dust quickly.

It started slowly, with noticeable breathing stuff, then went into coughs .
Look into that...since boarding is new to them. We changed Pantz's bedding to pine shavings(not cedar) plus power washed all the dust from her stall.
She HAS NOT has a relapse!

Aside from that...C -cold weather riding is upon us, that's for certain!
I ride365 , so gear and technique for warmth are important!
With the slippy nature of some of our hills my mare gets so ansy sometimes, she misbehaves...so I have had to resort to using her lozenge snaffle bit, last times out. I have a tack room with a working sink. There is a bucket in there now so I just fill it half way up with HOT water. I drape my bridle over it and dunk the bit in it, while I groom. It is so nice and warm when I finally get to the bridle.

Good for you keeping your riding schedule, during these cold times!

Hope the breathing issue gets sorted!

Once Upon an Equine said...

Don't know about the breathing issue. Hopefully it is nothing. I'm starting dressage lessons next week and will be hauling to an indoor in the evening. Outside temp will be mid to upper 20s. I'll take a fleece cooler and a bit warmer. The things we do to pursue our passion. It is nice you have easy access to an indoor.

aurora said...

Hi Kacy,

The bedding used at our barn looks like fine wood shavings (from a mill) not pelleted. Glad Pantz got better, and remains well. It sure is hard to figure these things out... I bet Wa likes her preheated bit, great idea complete with a fresh rinse. We are enjoying being able to ride in the winter, I only wish we could get outside too!!

aurora said...

I didn't know they made bit warmers, other then us humans :) I look forward to hearing about your lessons Once Upon. I am interested in looking into Cowboy Dressage, as I was more or less doing it at the dressage/hunter barn I rode at years ago.

The Dancing Donkey said...

The cold won't bother their lungs, but dust sure can. Good ventilation is far more critical than temperatures in barns, in fact horses kept in heated barns almost always develop respiratory issues over time. If all the horses were a bit "off" as the owner says, it may just be a mild virus, which is nothing to worry about if he is already better.

aurora said...

I agree ventilation is key Kris. I'm glad Koda isn't in the heated barn & get's regular fresh air.

Judi said...

We use a hair dryer to warm our bits in this weather. It warms our hands at the same time!