HORSEPLAY: Planning to go horseback riding in the winter? here are a few tips

CHEW, CHEW, CHEW. It was the sound I heard as I trudged through the snow. A twice-daily task was to feed my horses hay, to satisfy their urge to nibble.

Ah yes, I’m so glad that snow is an infrequent visitor to where I live in Sequim, as it makes outdoor chores, like taking care of my beloved horses, much more of a chore.

Before going out in freezing weather, I climb into my insulated overalls, put on my bog boots, hat, insulated shirt, parka and insulated gloves. I wear so much to keep myself warm that it becomes difficult to move. Ah well, at least I’m hot.

When I looked at my Facebook feed, I saw a photo of Jennifer Bond’s daughter Lillian, 13, riding her bareback horse in the snow. It reminded me so much of watching my niece Brooke at her age, jump on her Welsh Gold pony to ride bareback through the snow.

And just like Brooke did back then, Lillian is active in the junior rodeo, competing in the junior high division of the Washington State High School Rodeo.

Lillian’s main events are Barrels, Poles, Goat Tying, and Breakaway Rope. His family is also active in the Back County Horsemen.

“Lillian is a real horse rider and loves high mountain adventures,” said Jennifer, a proud mom.

I love it!

Winter driving tips

Jennifer works as a conservation planner at the Clallam Conservation District. She offers these winter driving tips:

“We like bareback riding when it’s cold and dry because it seems to help keep us warm.

“In cold weather, we dress in layers and use insulating base layers under our riding clothes. We used both synthetic and wool blend layers and had the best luck using lightweight fabrics used by skiers and hunters.

“We have heated vests that we wear under our winter jackets on long journeys. Vests really help keep our hearts warm so that we can ride longer without getting cold.

“We give our horses extra hay during the winter to keep them warm and to make sure all of our livestock tanks are heated. Dehydration is one of the main causes of colic, and horses are more likely to drink heated water rather than ice water.

“Lillian and I are both very busy, so we’re trying to make winter riding preparation easier by keeping all of our winter riding gear together in one place. This allows you to get dressed quickly and go for a walk. I have a “winter drawer” where I keep long underwear, underwear, gloves, hats and my riding clothes. We both use down jackets for dry and cold weather and use waterproof outer layers if we are riding in wet weather or in snowy branches / brushes.

“We cover our horses in the winter, mainly for our own comfort, so that we can quickly tie up dry, clean horses for a winter ride.

“One of my favorite winter riding accessories is my Jet Boil. This backcountry camping stove is small, portable and lightweight and will boil water in 60 seconds. We keep it in our winter backpacking bag, along with hot chocolate, instant coffee, and plastic cups. We can easily stop at any time and prepare a hot drink during our ride.

“Just like my winter riding clothes, I try to keep all of my winter riding gear in one place. I always have a handsaw, a first aid kit, an extra hat, gloves and socks, and a few snacks (protein bars, beef jerky, and dried fruit). I do my best to keep it all packed, so I just have to grab some saddlebags and go.

Covers and defroster

Most young and healthy horses do very well in cold weather because their double-layered coat acts as an insulator; However, Lacey and Sunny are older now (Lacey is almost 30) and have arthritic joints, so both benefit from the added protection and warmth of wearing midweight waterproof blankets.

If you don’t have a tank defroster, you will need to break the top of the ice on the drinkers so that the horses have access to potable water.

In cold weather, horses need more fuel in the form of good quality fiber-rich hay, so in addition to giving them their usual rations, I fill a slow-feeding hay net that they can munch on when they are. are hungry. And year round, they have mineral and salt blocks next to a drinker to lick on as needed.

I hate sliding and falling on the ice, don’t I? About 15 years ago I discovered the best anti-slip product. This is called Tire-Grip Black Ice Protection. I spray it on my tires, the bottom of my boots and shoes, the treads of hoof shoes, horseshoes and around the bottom of the rims of hoofs when they are without shoes. It’s amazing stuff, and I never understood why local stores don’t carry it. No need to buy a separate shoe grip box as it is the same product.

I buy it by the box from the manufacturer on It is also available in other online marketplaces.

Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears on the second and fourth Sunday of each month.

If you have an equestrian event, clinic or seminar that you would like to list, email Griffiths at [email protected] at least two weeks in advance. You can also call him at 360-460-6299.

Lillian Bond and Mac enjoy frolicking in the snow as young Cody wonders if he should join in the fun. (Courtesy of Jennifer Bond)

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