How to safely ride your horse in the snow!
- Isn’t it romantic? And photogenic? And totally bucket list worthy? Who wouldn’t want to ride their horse in the freshly fallen snow? I fully admit, I LOVE LOVE LOVE to ride in the snow. But I’m a teeny bit picky about all of the factors that make it safe.
Check for snowballs happening in your horse’s shoes.
- This can also happen to barefoot horses. Some shoe pads and inserts can help prevent these, and boots on barefoot horses are a good idea, also. If the snow is the “wet” sort, it’s more likely to ball up. Take a ride on a cleared area or the arena instead.
This is after a few steps. Snowballed hooves create super unstable legs which means accidents. The snowballs might pop out eventually, but how long is your horse balancing on them in the meantime?
Know what’s under the snow.
- Ice can kill your horse if there’s a slip.
- Don’t ride in new areas that you normally don’t visit – what sorts of roots and debris and holes are covered up by the snow? Stick to paths you know.
- Is the ground totally frozen, which has its own set of issues like concussion.
- Is the ground muddy where he could slip? This might not be a problem unless the mud is thin and covers slippery, icy ground a few inched down.
Know what’s on top of the snow.
- Sometimes, the snow will melt a bit on top, then refreeze. Depending on how deep it is, your horse will need to punch through. But is this safe? Who knows? I’ll skip riding through the snow like this.
Quite lucky for nice trails to ride so I can stay out of this snowball-inducing mess.
Is your horse fit enough?
- When the snow is deep enough to cover your horse’s fetlocks, it takes much more effort for your horse to wade through the snow.
- If the snow is super deep, try going for a hand walk with him for a few hundred yards and get the feel for yourself.
This snowstorm was easy for me to ride in. I used hoof boots!
Hoof protection ideas:
- If you live in an area where snow is always on the ground, you might have things down to a science. Special shoes, caulks, and even borium can help with grip and reducing the snowball effect. Your horse will probably also be used to walking around in the snow, so his fitness might be just fine.
- You may want your barefoot horse to wear some hoof boots, these are great for adding some traction and helping to keep the snowballs out of his hooves.
This style of boots is great protection from snow, gravel, rock, etc.
For the occasional snow, things might be a bit different and you need to weigh the safety factors before you head out. Have fun and stay safe!
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