by guest blogger Michelle Schubert
As the holidays get closer and the cold weather continues to approach, it’s important to stay warm. Although we may spend all summer complaining about the heat, hoping the judges will waive hunt coats, at least we get to spend our days at horse shows and our evenings outside with friends and family. When winter hits, I cringe at the idea of spending three or four hours outside with my horse, even though I consider the barn to be my second home. It doesn’t seem to matter how many pairs of socks or gloves I wear, my fingers and toes somehow manage to feel like they’re as cold as ice! Here are some tips to get you and your horse through the winter.
Layers, layers and more layers: Layers are perfect for riding, because as you get warm you can take off a jacket (or two!) and still stay warm. Plus, if you catch a chill after you’re done riding your jacket is right there waiting for you!
Find the perfect pair of boots: As comfortable as your worn-in paddock boots are, it’s important to find a pair more suitable for cold weather. Consider purchasing fleece liners for your wellies or lined boots for riding. Just make sure your winter boots won’t get trapped in the stirrups if you take a spill.
Drink up: Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you aren’t supposed to hydrate. Whether you pack a thermos of hot chocolate or a bottle of water it is important to stay hydrated. Working in cold weather is dehydrating, and you don’t need to add dehydration to a list that may include frozen fingers and toes!
Warm up the bit: The same way you may not like a frozen drink in the winter, horses probably don’t like having a cold piece of metal in their mouths. If you aren’t able to store your bit in a warm place, breathe on it for a few minutes before you put the bridle on. Or try something like a Bitten, which will warm up the bit and give you a reason to carry hand warmers!
Check their water bucket: Both you and your horse need to stay hydrated throughout the cold winter months. Always check to make sure water buckets aren’t frozen over. If you do come across a bucket covered with ice, gently crack the ice and remove the pieces before getting your horse more water.
Take your time: As cold as you may be, it’s important to give your horse a bit longer to cool down, especially if he or she has a thick winter coat. Consider tossing a cooler over your horse’s back after a hard workout, it’ll keep your legs warm and prevent your horse from catching a chill.
These tips should help you and your horse make it through the winter. Just remember to stay warm and be safe. Please pass along any tips you may have to help us all get through the winter months!