Winter Riding Essentials for Pasture-Boarded Horses
By Kayla Morse (@goingequestrian)
In my time as a horse owner, I have dealt with pasture boarding my horse during the winter months. When it comes to "horsing" in winter, the treks to and from the arena or pasture can be cold, uncomfortable, and a little sketchy! Luckily I have learned some tips and tricks along the way that I would love to share. The following is a list of the five essentials I've discovered that might make winters for my fellow pasture boarders more bearable:
Get a Head Lamp: Those winter evenings arrive earlier and the barn always seems darker during this time of year. Head lamps have made my life 100x easier at the barn and make tacking and untacking a breeze in low lighting. They're also great for walking to and from the arena if your horse lodges in a separate pasture or facility as well as digging through your tack box in a dim room! Why not just use my phone or flashlight? Trust me, I have tried holding a flashlight in my mouth, between my knees, under my arm and none of it worked very well. Hands free is the way to go!
Jager models a headlamp.
My Favorite Winter Boots: Waterproof shoes with good footing will change your winter life! They will keep your feet warm and dry and having a pair with good tred will make it much safer to walk in slippery conditions. I own the Arctic Ice muck boots from the Muck Boot Company which are 100% waterproof and lined with fleece. They keep my feet and calves perfectly warm during the coldest months and are the most comfortable waterproof boots I have ever worn. There is also a noticeable difference when I try to walk in slick mud with my paddock boots vs my muck boots. I can’t recommend these boots enough for the warmth and security they give you while retrieving your horse or walking to the arena. Muck boots are an investment, but I believe they are worth it. I have owned my muck boots for three years and wear them all the time in the winter, at the barn and as my normal winter boots.
Beat the Ice with Yaktrax: I can't survive icy days at the barn without my Yaktrax! I used to live in an area where snow and ice was very prevalent. Yaktrax can be thrown on any shoes and give you added traction for ice. I definitely wouldn’t recommend walking your horse around icy grounds, but Yaktrax allow you to do pasture checks with a bit more stability and security.
Blanketing: To blanket or not to blanket? This depends on your horse and your location, but I love blanketing my horse Jager in the winter. It helps keep him warm, fat and clean. He doesn’t have to spend as much energy trying to keep warm so he can keep his weight on easier and his body isn’t caked in mud which gives me more time to thoroughly clean his hooves and legs. It is important to remember if you start blanketing your horse, you need to keep an eye on them and know when to increase and decrease blanket weight. Your local tack shop is a great resource for knowing which blanket or blankets to use for what temperatures, especially given that they're familiar with your local weather patterns!
Fleece for You, Fleece for Your Horse: Fleece tops are extremely warm and comfortable to ride in and are perfect for winter riding. My favorite fleece top to date is my Kerrits winter fleece riding top. The inside of the top is lined with fleece for warmth but the outside has a durable finish outside so that it stays cleaner than your average fleece pullover would. This pullover is the perfect winter layering piece, especially if you are like me and quickly become warm riding. It is breathable but maintains your heat well, so you aren’t overheating and sweating or freezing and shivering. The pullover I have is from a couple years ago so it isn’t available anymore, but you can find similar ones on the brand's website. A fleece cooler for your horse is also a valuable winter tool. I actually have two separate coolers for Jager: one is for using after a sweaty ride, and I use the other one as a light blanketing layer. I find it’s the perfect amount of added warmth for when he is between the rain sheet and medium weight blanket. I didn’t spend a bunch of money on my coolers, I just bought the cheapest ones I could find, and they do their job. Don’t stress too much about what cooler to get, just get what you can afford!
About the Author: I'm Kayla (aka @goingequestrian), a graduate of Washington State University and a former member of the school's equestrian team. I love riding Jager, my trusty OTTB. I'm driven by finding and sharing great deals on quality horse products. As a curvier girl, I'm also on the lookout for brands that fit my body type and can't wait to share reviews on quality brands that fit beautifully. When I'm not riding or blogging, I'm building my career in the Washington State real estate industry where I specialize in equestrian properties.