Winter can be a beautiful time to get out and ride your horse. It is important to ride on familiar terrain, and on days that offer safe footing. Remember to stay calm if you encounter any of these riding hazards during your winter rides:
- Snow Drifts can be hard to see due to the lay of the land or the lighting that day. Drifts can cover up ditches, holes, drainages and gullies. Avoid snow drifts; go around them and ride where you know what is underneath the snow.
- Deep Snow riding can be fun, but it is a harder workout for your horse, especially if the snow is heavy and wet. Avoid snow that is uncomfortable for your horse to manage. Always keep to a walk if you get caught in deep snow and allow your horse plenty of rein to use his head and neck to maneuver through the snow. You want to avoid your horse pulling a muscle, tendon or ligament which can easily happen in deep snow. Keep your ride short to compensate for the extra work required for your horse to move through deep snow.
- Ice can come in many forms including frozen ground, freezing rain, and ice storms. A horse can easily slip on the ice, fall down, and pull a muscle, tendon or ligament. Avoid ice in general, waiting to ride until things have thawed. If you do encounter ice, go slow, allow your horse his head and neck to balance himself, and stay on your horse (you can slip and fall easily too). Cross over the most level area, or if on a hill go straight up or straight down and allow your horse to slide as he goes. If you try to navigate an icy hill at an angle, your horse’s legs will come out from underneath him and you’ll both fall; going straight up or down they can manage their footing better and slide without falling because their legs are directly underneath them. Be cautious of packed snow as it can become icy as it warms during the day and re-freezes at night.
- Mud can be both slippery and deep. Avoid mud by going around, or waiting until the area has dried out more. If you encounter mud, go slow, allow your horse his head and neck to balance himself and follow the same rules as when encountering ice, especially on hills.
Winter Riding Tip provided by Kim Baker, KB Natural Horsemanship. Foundation and Trail Training, Lessons, Energy Healing and more...Cell: 303-981-2127 | email@example.com
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