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6 Tips for Riding in Cold Weather to Help Your Horse Stay Safe and Comfortable

Last updated on January 4, 2024

6 Tips for Riding in Cold Weather to Help Your Horse Stay Safe and Comfortable

Ahh, winter is officially here! Riding in cold weather may not be your (or your horse’s) favorite, but it’s probably not something you can avoid. Livestock still needs care, and depending on your situation and individual goals, your horse may still need to be exercised and used even in the cold. 

Depending on where you live and the type of year you’re having, winter may be mild and tolerable or it may seem like a year-long frozen lockdown. So as the cold, crisp, tolerable change of fall is past and the frigid snow, ice, and wind of winter moves in, here are 6 tips for riding horses in cold weather and keeping them feeling their best.

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6 Ways Ride Safely & Comfortably in Cold Weather

1. Give yourself and your horse more time to warm up and cool down

  • Nothing says “it’s a cold day” like watching your horse buck, kick, and act a little friskier than usual. The term “cold backed” is aptly earned by many otherwise well-behaved and gentle horses when the winter season arrives. And really, who can blame them?
  • When asking your horses to exercise or work in colder weather, they usually need extra time to warm up and cool down.
  • Remember, a properly warmed-up muscle is less susceptible to injury.

2. Avoid working up a sweat

  • Competing in, or just exercising a horse indoors, can be tricky in the winter months. Yes, it is much more comfortable for the rider in the winter, but often it leads to a very sweaty horse. When possible, try to keep sweating to a minimum, and help your horse cool off and dry off well before putting them up for the day if they do get sweaty.

3. Allow your horse to choose its own footing and pace on slippery surfaces

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  • Horses are smart animals. Often much smarter than we give them credit for. Many times, riders forget that the horse can feel the ground and judge safety better than we can in many situations.
  • If you have to ride your horse over snow or across slick ground, allowing them to choose their own footing and pace will keep everyone involved safer and happier.

4. Encourage water consumption with warm water when possible

  • I don’t know about you, but I don’t much care for ice water when it’s frigid outside. We realize that not every stalling or pasture situation allows for tank heaters, but we’ve seen a marked difference in water consumption with warm (or at least fully thawed) water during the winter months.
  • If using a water heater isn’t possible, make sure to break the ice at least twice a day during cold snaps to give your horse ample opportunity to drink.
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5. Keep gut health at the forefront of your mind while riding in cold weather

  • Weather changes and barometric pressure changes seem to be inevitable in the winter months. Although each horse is impacted differently by the changes in weather, many experienced horsemen have found it extremely helpful to proactively give an extra scoop of Animal Element’s NuTrack Digestive Support before and during a major weather shift.
  • Make sure that your horse has free choice hay so that their always-active stomach acids have something to break down. This will go a long way in maintaining proper gut health.

6. Joint supplements might be extra important for aged horses

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  • Just like many people with arthritis complain about the negative effects of cold weather, horses often feel its effects as well.
  • If you find that your 4 legged partner is a little extra stiff on cold days, try adding in Cissus Quadrangularis or additional Ultra Pure MSM to what’s already in their Foundation Daily Detox.

Riding in Cold Weather Inevitable? That’s Okay!

If riding in the cold winter weather is inevitable, there are a few things you can pay close attention to to make sure your horse is as comfortable as possible. Be mindful of warming up and cooling down, getting too sweaty, footing on slick ground, water consumption, and gut health. Giving an extra joint supplement might benefit your horse as well (especially the older ones). If you need to replenish your supply of NuTrack, Cissus, or MSM head to our website to order now. Bundle up and enjoy riding in a winter wonderland!