Monday, January 21, 2013

Riding in the Cold

Today was cold - the high was about 10F (-12C), with wind chills as low as -13F (-25C).  I kept my horses in for the day, except for brief paddock expeditions for Pie and Red - Dawn, who gets cold easily, was happy to stay in, although she nickered at me every time I came into the barn.  Dawn and I had two very nice short lungeing sessions during the day - she did all three gaits very nicely, and there was no scooting or bucking.  It was good that she got to stretch her legs, and she seemed happy about it.

After the boys had been out in adjacent paddocks for a while, I brought them back in.  As I was leading them together through the arena, they were distracted by the guy watering the arena with a hose and sprayer, and then someone suddenly opened the big overhead door.  Both boys bolted, but being the good horses they are and respectful of my space, they went past me and pivoted around so they were facing me.  We just went on, although Red was worried enough - he really wanted to head to his stall - that we had to make a few turns and circles together before we left the arena.  I was really pleased with both boys - I don't mind if they spook, but it's great that they kept track of where I was and didn't mow me down.

By the time I got to the barn in the afternoon, the temperature was falling and it was about 20F (-7C) in the indoor.  Since Red and Pie hadn't been turned out, I wanted to give them both a chance to stretch their legs, so we rode.  Red had been very fussed about the change of routine - he's big on a regular routine, even more than my other horses - but we saddled up and off we went.  He was bursting with energy, but managed to stand still for mounting - he was practically quivering - and off we went.  He was so forward at the walk that we cut our usual warm up time to 10 minutes from 15, and off we went on left lead canter.  He was very, very good.  There was no head-shaking or bucking, but just wonderful, forward, energetic canter.  We did that for a while, and then did a fair amount of trot work, mixed in with more cantering.  He couldn't have been better - he was still jazzed up by the time we were done, but that was enough for his leg for today.  He has come so far - it's a delight.

Pie and I also had a very nice session - lots of good trot and canter, with good softness and bend.  Even though the roof was buzzing from the wind and the doors banging, he was good as gold.  We didn't work long, probably about 25 minutes - I was getting cold - but that was good enough to stretch his legs for the day.

Tomorrow's supposed to be even colder - the low tonight is expected to be -4F (-20C) with a high of 6F (-14C) tomorrow, with gusty winds and wind chills as low as -24F (-31C).  I'll be keeping my horses in again tomorrow - the boys may make a brief expedition to the paddocks during stall cleaning, but if it's too cold, I'll just tie them in the arena or put them on cross ties.  It may even be too cold to ride in the indoor, but we'll see . . .


  1. You're a better woman than I Kate - I'm whining about brief forays below freezing. ;D

  2. I'm amazed they would be watering with those temps - doesn't the footing freeze?

    I'm begining to think my Armani might do well to have some canter after a good walk warm-up instead of the typical w/t/c order. I haven't tested it yet but reading your posts I think I'll give it a try.

    I haven't been riding due to his abscess (not hoof, for your other readers) but did free lunge tonight so he could warm up and get some energy out. I hand walked for awhile and then let him go. His gait of choice for a good 5-8 min, no pressure from me, was canter. Then he settled into a nice forward trot...then a relaxed but engaged trot.

    I have to go back and read your post(s) on this. I think somewhere you discussed deciding on this approach with Red?

    1. The footing did freeze a bit - it got crusty on top and then when they dragged it the crusty bits got mixed in - not ideal, but not a real problem. Usually it doesn't get so cold in the indoor that that's a problem - it's the first time that's happened in the year I've been there.

      I canter Red first mainly because he's indicated a strong preference for that. He's got hock arthritis, which is a bit worse in the left hock, so cantering on the left lead is easier for him than trotting as he's warming up and stretching out. It's also a great way for him to get his energy out and settle into a rhythm. I think this varies by horse - Pie doesn't need to canter first and cantering Dawn first doesn't work as she tend to get excited at the higher gaits until she settles to work, and has a pretty big buck on her when she gets worked up.

  3. So glad we are not the only ones who get cold weather! But my ponies have to live outside even if it gets cold. But I dont ride if its colder than -15*C cause I am a wimp, lol.

    1. I'm more of a wimp than my horses - the boys would probably be fine outside on these very cold days, but Dawn suffers from the cold even when it's not this bad - I call her my delicate flower.

  4. OK, i like it cold, but my Riding Cold limit is about 25* and sunshine!
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

  5. I'm glad (well not really but you know what I mean) that it's not just me that having issues with the weather and cold it's a nightmare at the minute! It's that cold that we have had no riding (as we only have an outdoor arena) and Gatsby is getting super excited for when he can be rode.

  6. In the 20's here too. Not supposed to get as cold as you, but with the wind, it's not pleasant. Guess riding is out for me since I have no indoor. Not sure I'd be riding even if I did have an indoor. Once again, I admire your determination.

    Your Boys were really good about the spooking. You should be delighted with the success of all the groundwork you have done with them.


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