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Riding Horses in the Snow: Part 1
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Riding Horses in the Snow: Part 1

Winter is just around the corner, and I am sure many people are wondering if they should be riding in the snow. The answer is yes! With careful preparation and special care for your horse, you can enjoy riding in the snow.

Here are some things to keep in mind.

“Snowballing”

If you ride in the snow, you must look out for something called “snowballing” on the underside of the hoof. It can look like a big packed snowball attached to the hoof. Snowballing is extremely dangerous because it can make your horse unsteady and unbalanced.

It happens because the snow briefly melts when it first touches your horse. Due to the frigid temperatures, the snow that is now on your horse’s foot refreezes almost immediately. This tends to happen to shoed horses more often. The shoe creates more of a bowl shape and it is easier for the frost to get stuck. The natural shape of a barefoot hoof allows the snow to pop out naturally, however, it is still wise to watch any kind of hoof for packed snow.

Sweating

Snow can be extremely difficult to move in. If you have ever run on the beach, it feels like that. You should be aware of your horse’ fitness limitations. If your animal is sweating, they will get cold when their body heat cools down. It is wise to stick to an easy workout for your animal.

Ice is Not Nice

Ice is unsafe for both you and your horse. It is very easy for a horse to slip on ice and break a leg bone. They can also injure you if you are fallen on. Any time you see hard ice just think “ice is not nice!” and steer clear of the patch of frozen water.

There is no reason to hang up the saddle as soon as the weather produces snow! If you are very careful, you and your horse will have a happy, safe winter.

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