Your Winter Limit

The winter solstice isn’t for over a week yet winter weather has arrived for a lot of us already. From Texas to the Northeast it seems like we are all freezing our butts off at the barn.

Last year I didn’t have any set goals for how often I would ride. Annie was very very green and still a baby at 3yo. I rode when it was convenient and comfortable to do so. This year I am planning to follow a similar motto. Annie had a really full year and I want to relax and have fun this winter. Sure I have goals and progress I want to make but I don’t plan to ride no matter what just to make it happen if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

As we aren’t going to any shows in the near future I am not going to kill myself to ride 5-6 days a week. If I can get 3 rides a week I will be really happy with that. Not having an indoor also facilitates this thought process because I am not going to ride if the footing is frozen or if it hurts to breathe. I would love to use this winter to focus on our flat work and really finesse things so we aren’t llamas in the dressage court next year.

Snowy black dog play date. #bffs #rescuedog #brindlepup

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All of those things said what are your all’s thresh holds for winter riding? Is there a temperature that keeps you out of the tack? Do you also like to use the winter as a wind down or are do you keep on keeping on all year round?

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  1. Apparently 38 with 20mph wind is not my limit, since I’m stupid enough to have jumped in that shit yesterday. I’ve got a move-up to get ready for though, otherwise I probably would have said fuck it. If we’d had a normal fall I would probably be winding down for the winter, but that didn’t happen.

  2. With it being dark when I get off work, I’m not super motivated to ride in my tiny indoor…especially when I have a whole herd of horses to feed in the cold first. I literally packed up my riding stuff in my trunk yesterday so it won’t get dusty over winter while not in use.

  3. This is my first winter without an indoor and with a baby horse in a long, long time. While my plans are subject to change depending on how hard our winter is, they are so far:

    Marcus-he gets hacked 3-4x a week and when its nice, we go to Masterson on the weekends. I typically give him 6 weeks off, so I may just plan on giving him the month of January or February. Last year even with an indoor, we didn’t jump from Dec-Mar. This year I may try to lesson once a month to just keep up our mojo. We campaigned pretty hard this year, so I would like to give him a break until I start legging him back up in mid March for Spring Bay in early April.

    Frankie-I try to not let him go more than 2 days without sitting on him, so he is also on the 3-4x a week plan. I don’t do more than 30 minutes with him each ride and if its cold and he been good I’m not against quitting after 15-20 (like in that picture, I made it 18 minutes). I do plan to lesson on him 2x a month to keep him going if the weather stays ok. I would also like to take him to a dressage show in February, with his goal being starter at MayDaze. A lot of time and a lot to learn before then, so we’ll see.

    If it starts to get really bad, I may see about hauling to an indoor some nights but I honestly am not that motivated to do that. Horses lose fitness slower than we think, so not working super hard all winter wont be that detrimental, especially at the lower levels.

    1. Also I’m good to ride so long as the ground isn’t frozen. Or it isnt super windy. Ill probably use that as my judgement call rather than air temps. The ones in the low 30s might be short rides though πŸ˜‰

    2. That all makes sense to me. I don’t normally ride if its below 30. Last year was my first year without an indoor but with a baby horse. I would like rides in both weekend days and one day during the week. I haven’t ridden in over a week right now and am about to go out of town so I might just let Annie have time off until I am back after the holidays. If I ride before I leave it will just be light work πŸ™‚

  4. I generally give Roger some down time over the winter, especially when the ground freezes. I don’t usually ride when the temps are below 30; I don’t think that’s fair to the horses (or us humans), even though Roger has a full winter coat. I do try to get out once or twice a week in the winter though, just to hop on him and walk around for a while to remind him that he is actually not a feral creature and that he does work sometimes. But, 99.9% of those rides are spent strictly walking around the field. We might trot for a few steps, but due to the hard ground, that’s all the trotting we do. I’m also a big believer in letting horses be horses, and I think significantly lightening Roger’s work load over the winter lets him wind down from an intense ride schedule, and lets his muscles decompress and relax. I don’t have regular access to an indoor either, so that makes consistent riding tough in the winter.

  5. Miles is on a twice a week or so plan for the winter, and I’m hoping to get him going a bit in the Pessoa rig. I’m hoping to keep up a pretty regular schedule with Moiya tho — 4-5 times per week on her would be great… but it all depends on the weather. I’m not great at getting motivated to go out to the barn when the wind chill is under 20 degrees.

  6. With just an unlighted outdoor, I ride when temps/weather allow (normally above 30). Rides are shorter than in the warmer months and lighter work. I haul out for a lesson once a month.

  7. Subi is pretty much always has winter off since I can’t keep him on a consistent enough schedule to make it worthwhile enough. This year he’s just been retired for my own reasons so no real changes for him. Since the horses are home and I don’t have a ring, Batt will have off unless the weather is nice and I feel like taking him somewhere. With his colic scare yesterday, he’ll definitely have a week or so off to recover anyway and then we’ll re-evaluate. But, I see the winter consisting of mostly vacation with some trail rides thrown in as weather permits. Luckily he’s no different if he’s ridden daily or has 3 months off. But, rides will definitely be light. We will be playing in the snow though if we get some…

    In terms of lessons, I guess we’ll ride indoors until my trainer cancels. I didn’t ride with her last winter so I’m not sure what her threshold is for temperatures… I generally don’t like to ride below 30, but with a nice, windproof, closed up indoor, it’s not too terrible.

  8. California means we can carry on business as usual. At least in NorCal I was able to because of the covered arena. Still unsure how this will work down here.

  9. Yah I feel like I’m not allowed to not ride in the winter due to weather/temperature since California doesn’t get bad. Due to his new fun stifle issues, my winter with the young horse is going to be light too. Still getting ridden every day, but not training hard anymore.

  10. Typically if it’s under 12-15 degrees lessons will be canceled and riding is discouraged, especially if there is windchill to take into account. It’s not fun, but it’s necessary here in the North!

  11. I have access to an indoor arena and I still struggle to find the motivation to ride. I think it’s the cold and the dark. I’ve been pretty low key this winter with Emi being just 3 but we have some clinics coming up so I need to get back in the game in a more consistent way.

  12. If I have an indoor, I will literally ride in any weather. The coldest I’ve ever ridden in was 12 degrees, though that experience made me reset my lower limit to 20. It all depends on what I’m trying to accomplish though… I had to ride 6 days a week when I first got Siggy, so I made it happen no matter what. Obviously I won’t be riding much this winter cuz broken horse.

  13. The weather in my area isn’t actually that bad for winter riding, but we don’t have an indoor and when it rains, our main arena gets closed. I could slip and slide around on the trails, but I generally don’t. I also hate getting up early in the morning and without electricity, we can only ride in the morning on weekdays during the winter. So I end up not riding as much as I should.

  14. Assuming we don’t have anything coming up, I usually don’t ride if it’s under 30 (I might do a light longe but I need to may layers to be able to actually ride. Lol.) But even if it’s in the 30s, I won’t always bother. Our weather has been so weird lately that even if I tough it out for that one more ride, it will just rain again and put me out of riding for another week. So the one ride really doesn’t make a difference.

  15. I usually don’t ride in the low 20s and below because it becomes increasingly uncomfortable for me, despite the 100000 layers I pile on. It is really, really hard for me to stay warm. Fiction also takes a super long time to warm-up when it is that cold and I feel bad for him. I usually get to ride 3x a week in the winter, which is a fine number imo. Just enough to keep him moving.

  16. -20C (-4F) is generally my lower limit for winter riding. I do have access to an indoor, but it’s not heated so it basically just blocks the wind and keeps snow off the footing. I do a lot more walk work in the winter though to avoid getting my horse sweaty. If I didn’t ride below 0C/30sF then I wouldn’t be able to ride for 6 months of the year!