Friday, November 27, 2015

Horses in the Winter

Are horses only good in good weather?   Can you enjoy your horse in bad weather?  Here in Canada snow sometimes starts in November and sometimes lasts until April--maybe one benefit of global warming is an extended riding season.  Are your horses ready for winter?  Check the link for some guidelines.

A popular image is riding along a beach splashing in the water.  Perhaps another attractive image is dashing throughout the snow with the white stuff spraying.

For me an attractive action piece was the opening ceremonies of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics with cowboys charging through the snow.  The 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics included a display of Norwegian horses in their opening ceremonies.

Shoeing opens a lot of debate which I am not qualified to participate in.  A few points to consider (debate).  Many barefoot horses are well adapted for traction.  However many conditions work against the barefoot solution.  In addition to traction, another concern is snowballing and also protection from the elements.  Talk to a trusted expert.

Skijoring is where a horse pulls a skier similar to water skiing.  It was a demonstration sport at the 1928 St Moritz Winter Olympics, but unfortunately did not progress to being a medal event.  Since 2009 Whitefish, Montana had held what they call a world championship for skijoring and have  offered prize money.  Check the link for an informative video:    

In my research I stumbled on a story by a Fjord owner, Pat Wolfe who has enjoyed sleigh riding on ice for a few decades.  Check out his advice

I had heard about the idea of Icelandic horses competing on ice and located a video from Europe that will give you a better idea than mere words.

Having seen these exciting opportunities, perhaps you would consider a regular ride in the snow.  It can be enjoyable, but avoid ice to minimize risks.

Groundwork can be valuable to keep your horse fit and develop your relationship.  A lot of us become armchair quarterbacks in the winter, but it still is opportunity to progress.

Climate change is real and is noticed by many horse owners as well as skiiers.  You cannot count on snow in traditional areas and may find yourself traveling further.  Hopefully more horse owners and riders can enjoy a longer season no matter the weather.

Photo by Jane Wolfe

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