Monday, December 22, 2008

Trail Riding in Winter

Winter Horseback RidingWinter riding in Minnesota can be a lot of fun, but there are precautions to take before heading out on the trail. First and foremost is to wear a hard hat - even at a walk slips and falls can be treacherous. Secondly, dress warmly since once you get out on your ride, it may be a while 'til you get back and frozen toes and fingers are no fun!

Do you keep your tack in an unheated shed or tack room? Before putting the cold bit into your horse’s mouth, take the time to warm it up a little in your hand. He’ll appreciate it! (And he'll also be more likely to take the bit at would you like a cold bit shoved in your mouth?)

If we have gotten a layer of ice before the snow, we hesitate about riding the trails. Good footing is always a must, but even if you think the trail is safe, I would suggest keeping the horses to a walk or a slow jog trot. There may be obstacles underneath the snow that you - and your horse - wouldn’t be aware of. Also, you don’t want your horse to get hot and sweaty if he has to return to a cold outside pasture after your ride.

Once you have gotten back from your ride and have untacked your horse, brush up her hair where it's become matted from the saddle and cinch. Compacted hair from under the saddle doesn’t insulate, by brushing up the hair you add air back in among the hairs to create a layer of insulating warmth.

Most of all, enjoy your ride!

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