Love that rollercoaster weather…
We don’t know about you, but here in central Kentucky, we’re hoping the weatherman is kidding us about this next week’s predictions. From balmy temperatures and rain on Saturday to cooler winds in the early part of the week to single digit lows projected for later in the week, we have no idea what season it’s supposed to be.
Several years in this rollercoaster winter weather has taught us with a few tricks for surviving the months between December and February.
- When the ground is too frozen to ride, keep your horse’s mind active with trick training. One of the most popular methods for cueing horses to do this is using a clicker; you teach the horse to associate the click with getting a treat, then use the clicker to reward correct reactions to cues.There are some great books out there on the subject.
- Even if the arena has become a slushy mess, you might be able to safely go for a walk. Walking can do more to keep you and your horse in condition than it may seem, especially if you work your horse in a frame related to the type of riding you do–dressage, Western, whatever.
- Sometimes it’s tempting to venture out of the ring for a hack across the field. With the freezing, thawing, and raining, it’s hard to know whether there’s too much slip and slide out there for a ride. Try watching your horse’s movements when he’s on his own in the pasture. Does he feel comfortable jogging across the field to accept a cookie? Are he and his herdmates bucking or running upon turnout (if that’s their usual routine)? If he’s being atypically careful with himself, that could be a cue that adding your weight into the equation could be more challenging than usual.
- Windy winter days make even our calmest horses much more feisty than usual. No matter what type of riding you do, it’s a good time to teach yourself and your horse to lunge or ground drive as an alternative or prelude to your ride. Both exercises can help either blow off steam or draw a horse’s focus away from the whistling winds and on to your cues.
- Take advantage of the warm days when you can get them! We use above-freezing days to scrub out buckets and tubs, sweep, and clean/condition tack and halters. Of course, if you’ve got beta biothane equipment, that can save you some serious time–just toss it in a bucket of soapy water, rinse and go!
Beta can save you some time when things get cold, too. Leather and even nylon get stiff when temperatures plunge, and the last thing you want to deal with in single digits is fiddling with a stubborn halter strap. Beta biothane doesn’t harden, even during the polar vortex winter we had last year.
Learn more about this super-durable material here.
Now it’s your turn–how do you deal with roller coaster weather?