So it’s too cold to ride? What to do, what to do?
Some of us live in climates that produce awful winter weather - when it’s just too darn cold or rainy or snowy or icy to ride your horse. No one really wants to go outside, and braving the weather is on the top of your “not to do” list. But if you make it to the barn, (or your convince your spouse or friend to go to the barn for you) there are a few things to watch for, and a few things that can help your pony weather the storm.
- Hydration of your horse friend is key! You will not only need to check for hydration, but also try and make his water supply as tasty as possible. Recent studies have found that most horses prefer to drink cold water, but they will drink more water when it’s warm. Employ those bucket insulators and water tank heaters, and if you have to, cart some warm water from the wash rack or house.
- A good grooming is a must. Find a spot out of the wind to groom your horse. If it’s safe, you can peel back his blanket(s) to curry and brush his body. Grooming will stimulate his brain, his muscles, and his blood supply. It will also alert you to any weirdness that he may be having during a period of bad, bad weather.
- A hand walk is a good option for your horse, depending on your facility and how truly horrid the weather is. Even getting out of a stall and into a cross tie or doing a lap around the arena can help his legs stretch and alleviate any boredom he may have. Of course, be safe and avoid walking outside if there is even a remote possibility of ice or dangerous footing. If you are lucky enough to have an indoor arena or a covered arena, a controlled hand walk or controlled light lunge is safer than a turnout. Plus, a wild bronc turnout often leads to a sweaty horse which means drying time in awfully cold temps. Not fun!
- Remember the good ventilation in a barn is a must for respiratory health. If you have any doubt, you can (maybe) wet his hay and use a dust free bedding to cut down on dust. Often the simple act of raising his food from ground to chest height can help with removing his nose from the dust in his bedding.
- Keep your horse occupied!! Use boredom busting toys and hay nets to pass the time for your horse if he’s weathering the storm in the barn. Additional forage will help his body stay heated from the inside out, as well.
- These days are great to practice your massage techniques on your horse. Who doesn’t love a good massage? You can also tackle those long procrastinated projects - like deep cleaning tack and organizing the tack room!
What do you do at the barn when it’s bitter cold??