It’s been a rough couple of months for those of us not lucky enough to either live in the South or West where riding is doable most of the year. We’ve had snow, ice, freezing rain (as differs from ice, go figure), below zero wind chills and frozen ground. Not very fun (or safe) for riding. I haven’t even seen the trail since fall, and our ring space keeps shrinking in size as the snow accumulates. It’s hard even getting my butt to the barn on days that I can barely get out of the house it’s so cold.
This past week, while the sun briefly peeked out though the thick cloud covering, and my little leased horse rested (growing a big belly) my trainer had the idea to take advantage of the crappy conditions and do something that I only see the up/dowers do – the longe line lesson with another sweet lesson horse. I thought, cool – I’ll take a break from aching thighs and let her drive for a while.
I’m sure most of you barely remember doing this as kids. Going in circles, no reins, and letting your trainer walk the pony around and around – all you had to do was stay on. This was different. Snow and ice covered the ground; we began at a walk. Cool, easy peasy. No reins today! Post the walk. Ugh. Okay, keep going. Up to a trot and post. Constant trotting, arms up, down, out to the side, behind me and then no stirrups. Try and sit the trot. Oops, quick spook, panic canter, then back on track. Post the trot. I regret thinking my thighs wouldn’t burn that day. After what seemed like a long time, we switched direction and did the whole routine over. She then asked me to close my eyes. This was a crazy feeling for me! Taking away my vision helped me pick up the correct diagonal easier, and helped me feel little Rocket underneath me, silly, but I actually felt closer to him. I also learned that I may depend on my hands WAY too much, and taking them away forced me to balance correctly.
It’s a great lesson in many ways. We helped my seat and balance, which need CONSTANT attention; helped my thighs, which get soft in winter; and helped my attitude, getting my horse fix even in the cold weather always gets me out of the doldrums. This was a great way to take advantage of what little riding we can do – give it a shot 🙂
Looking out the window at all the ice from this weekend, I’m again wishing for better riding weather. Those of us who can’t ride in warmer climates (and especially without covered rings) are faced with making the decision to not ride at all or try to take short rides as safely as possible. I found this article in the Bangor (Maine) Daily News, which has some great advice for we northern tundra riding folk ;).
I’m going to take her advice and try bareback with my little Cuervo – want to keep my butt warm!
Shadow, a 37-year-old Arabian owned by Heather Robbins, enjoys the snow at Wild Ivy Farm in Bangor.
It is inevitable. There will be snow, cold and ice. For some horse owners, this means hanging up the saddle and giving the horse some time off. Others forge ahead. With careful preparation, riding in the winter can be enjoyable and safe.
Some riding stables have an indoor riding arena, which eliminates the concern of icy footing and biting wind. For those not so fortunate, riding can be done outside as long as there isn’t ice or deep, crusted-over snow. Horses are very capable in the snow, but when it gets that frozen layer over the top, it is difficult for the horses to break through and they may even lacerate their lower legs. It also impedes their movement which could result in a fall of both horse and rider.
For the winter months horses should either go barefoot, with no horseshoes, or have special snow-tire-like shoes with caulks and a pad between the hoof and shoe that keeps snow from balling up. Horses’ hoofs are cupped, so snow will pack in if horses wear typical metal shoes, which makes hooves like bowling balls and the horse very unsteady. Disaster is eminent.
With a barefoot horse, or one fitted with winter shoes, riding outside through snow-covered trails is a most enjoyable outdoor activity. Some considerations are important, however. In order to carry a rider through deep snow, a horse has to work extra hard, so be aware of horses’ fitness and exertion during an outside ride. If a horse has a full winter coat, it can quickly become very sweaty with the extra effort required to plow through snow, and care must be taken to keep that horse warm after a ride until its coat has dried. The drying process can take hours. It may be a better idea to limit physical work to avoid having a horse sweat a lot. They can’t shed layers if they get warm the way riders can.
For the rider, wearing appropriate gear can be a challenge. Riders can’t wear slippery snow pants or chunky boots to ride in. One will make it hard to stay on, and the other makes it hard to get your foot out of the stirrup should you not stay on. While a fall off a horse into the snow isn’t a bad way to land, it can be an awfully long walk home should that horse decide that he has urgent business to attend to back at the barn.
One of the more comfortable ways to ride in winter is going bareback — the horse’s back, not the rider’s. A horse with a broad enough back can be lovely to sit on in winter. They are natural seat warmers. A narrower horse, while still warm, isn’t as cushiony to sit upon.
Riding should never be attempted on ice. Horses do not handle ice well. Occasionally, there will be a horse that can figure out how to safely negotiate an icy patch, but the majority of them play out the Bambi scene from the Disney movie. Except in this case, Bambi weighs a thousand pounds or more and it isn’t cute when he comes crashing down, limbs all akimbo. Horses can easily fracture a leg falling on ice, so not only should ice be avoided when riding but if your paddocks are icy, horses may need to stay in the barn until there is sufficient snow to cover them or it melts. Some horse owners will outfit their horses with studded horseshoes just to avoid an accident at pasture. In general, horses will avoid ice naturally, but sometimes, they get goofing around and don’t pay attention to the footing.
Horses are quite adapted to cold weather and as long as they don’t get wet from rain, snow or sweat, they are very comfortable being outside. Wintertime in Maine has its challenges for keeping horses, but the opportunities for some spectacular riding should not be missed. If a horse — not a rider — is barefoot and bareback, riding amongst the snow covered pine trees is a dreamy way to get through the winter.
I’ve been stuck between riding disciplines for as long as I’ve been riding. I can’t decide whether or not I prefer the close contact, two hand reins and traditionally preppy attire of the English style, or the saddle security, freedom of having one hand free, and easy to wear (in the barn and after) Western style.
Why choose? I’m not one for limitations, so I like to get a good western trail ride on Cuervo (my cute little leased quarter horse who was Western broke) when I can, and then on other days, when I feel like posting a proper trot, I throw on my little jump saddle and practice patterns in the ring.
I’m pretty much the same when it comes to clothing. Some winter days, I want the clean polished (uptown) look of my non-riding black “breeches” with a slimming black cashmere sweater, black knee high suede boots and small stud earrings. Other days, I throw on my Haute Hippie long horn t-shirt, a pair of embellished skinny jeans, my Tony Lamas and a warm wool southwestern poncho. With regards to actual riding attire, I remember I wore my cowboy boots and jeans with my English tack and it looked equally as awkward as when I wore my tall boots in a western saddle – got lots of looks, but who cares? Cuervo could care less what I’m wearing :).
My pick for a cute hybrid outfit. Maybe this will be my Christmas outfit from Santa –
Mixed-discipline for hacking around either Western or English.
Wondering what to get your horsey loved ones? We have some ideas to help you out!!!
We feature some of our favorite brands, as well as some new ones, most of which can be purchased online simply by clicking the link in the guide. For items sold by Ride Bedford, please give Courtney a call – she will personally help you with anything you need and will be sure to give you the best product at the best value.
By the way our very own Tack and Tweed limited edition cell phone covers designed by Beatrice Bulteau and made in France, may be purchased here, or by emailing me directly (Lisa@TackandTweed.com)!
It’s fall and there’s no shortage of wonderfully equestrian inspired tall boots. I’m so happy that we can wear tall boots year after year; they are basically timeless. English or Western, these will be sure to please the pony princess or cowgirl in all of us little ladies.
No riding in these boots, purely for pretty, so keep them away from the poo pile 😉
What I love about real Western riding boots, they can be worn as fashion. It’s pretty clear that I’m wearing real riding boots when I go to the store in my dirty Ariat Challengers. I have a pair of Tony Lamas, and they look just as great with my skinny jeans out on the town as they do in the ring doing work. These riding boots (except the Tony Lamas) haven’t been approved in the saddle, but will look cool with a skirt, skinny jeans, flair jeans (the newest old trend making a comeback), and shorts (if you’re under the age of 35).
Many of these boots are rather expensive, so think of this an an investment piece. Tall riding boots are classic. With proper treatment (care for them like you care for your riding boots) and you can wear them for years to come.
Like thousands of others, I love Etsy.com. It’s given so many arisans an easy outlet to sell their wares. Etsy provides a wonderful opportunity to help people make a living at their passions; equestrian-artists are no exception.
Trolling through hundreds and hundreds of stores, I found many focused on equine-related goods, and thought it would be a fun idea to highlight some standouts. Just about everyone has an Etsy account, so log on and support these amazing artisans. You’ll receive a one of a kind item, while supporting small business. I am having a rough time attaching links to photos, so you will need to type in the name of the store (the beginning of the picture caption) in the Etsy search bar. We’ll fix this asap ;).
Most of these crafts can be customized, so remember to ask the artist!
There are some really fun new backpacks this fall for students, but what about for the rider (and those of us <cough> beyond our school years)? Riders carry bulky items like helmets, and we need our hands free to fuss with bridles, so I’ve been searching for a backpack that useful in the barn, but can be worn after riding and doesn’t make me look like I’m about to hike the Appalachian trail.
If you don’t mind a little dust on some butter soft Italian leather, it’s reasonably priced at $320. I believe I found the perfect backpack. Brand new this fall season, the Asmar Equestrian’s Firenze Backpack is gorgeous. It was specifically designed for the rider in mind, so it can hold your helmet and riding accessories, yet is so beautiful, it can go to a restaurant or to town after your hack, and I won’t look like a mutton dressed in tween’s clothing. Measuring 15″ x 11″ x 3.5″, you will have plenty of room for your wallet, keys, makeup bag and polo wraps ;). No wonder they’re my go-to equestrian brand this year.
Asmar Equestrian Italian Leather Backpack Brown
Asmar Equestrian Italian Leather Backpack White
For those of you willing to spend a little more, Prada makes a fun backpack, which is made from their Tessuto easily washable nylon. At $920 (for the camo print), it’s pricey, but should last a long time. Measures 14″ x 14.5″ x 6″. It’s light and strong and should be able to carry most of a rider’s needs. It comes in other colors like pink and red.
Again, with the higher end, Gucci has a nice canvas backpack, however, I’m not convinced it’s perfect for a barn setting, maybe for the girl that has a full time groom and a trust fund $1200….you be the judge:
Another fun option is Tory Burch. At $195, you won’t break the bank. Her camouflage canvas logo backpack is roomy, and cute – getting a camo theme here, right?
Okay, I haven’t forgotten the boys. Many backpacks are gender neutral, and men typically aren’t as picky about what they carry on their backs, but for the discerning man with a little dinero to burn, I love these: