Thursday, January 4, 2018

don't believe the hype: too cold to ride?

Winter's come to Maryland and is hunkering down for an extended stay. Any hopes we had of another mild season are gone - jumping in the outdoor arena in a long sleeved tee seems highly unlikely this January. Sadness.

But. Ya know. Them's the breaks, right? As with anything with horses, we work with the circumstances and resources we have and do the best we can.

So I'd like to take a moment to discuss in greater detail my own personal thoughts on riding in extreme cold conditions, with reference to the research and published opinions of folks who know better than I do.

First off? This is basically a judgement free zone. If one look at the forecast temperature of 15F has you saying "Oh Hell No" to heading out to the barn.... That's cool. No judgement here.

goofy charlie, loose and wild!! i pulled his tack so he could roll in the soft footing if so inclined...
If a real feel of 1* likewise strips you of any motivation to expose your fingers to tinkering with fussy clips, snaps or buckles.... Yea. I get that.

Or, from another perspective, if you don't have access to an indoor or all-weather footing and can't bear the thought of hacking out in the windchill or risking hauling out on potentially icy roads... Well. You might be onto something there haha.

My point is, nothing about any of this is intended to guilt trip anybody or call you out for not being inclined to ride in cold weather.

However, if you're hearing, "I do not ride in extreme cold bc it's been scientifically proven to be detrimental to the health and well-being of horses" ... Well. I'd argue that's an oversimplified and misleading interpretation of the known research.

It's not an either/or, yes/no situation. We as riders can take practical steps to protect ourselves and our horses from extreme elements while still enjoying meaningful saddle time. If the only thing stopping you from busting out those extra thick long johns in 20* weather is concern that you'll harm your horse by riding, have no fear! You still have options!!

we had been practicing center line turns and halts and i just hopped right off after the last one and pulled the saddle and bridle. and he just..... stood there.
So let's dig into this a little bit more, shall we?

What does the science say? Some research found that negative effects can be measured in the respiratory system up to 48 hours after exercise in temperatures of 23F. The full synopsis of existing literature by Yates Equine Veterinary Services is very informative (thanks Jen of Cob Jockey for the heads up!).

What does this mean? Well. Let's parse out the detail bc definitions and semantics matter in science.

Particularly, how to define "exercise"? The methodology available from one study took measurements after exercising the horses for 5 minutes canter at 6.8-9.5 meters/sec.

Guys. That's equivalent to running a 2000-2850m cross country course at 400-570mpm. It's a LOT of cantering. Idk about you, but I doubt the average rider does that often.

(Notably: known literature and existing research are limited. We don't know how the thresholds change as temperatures rise and drop. The above link does not compare the measured negative effects to similar scenarios in warmer temperatures. Meaning, is the respiratory system similarly taxed from a 2000m run in warm weather as it is cold? How different are the effects?)

I've only come close to those distances in competitions, and possibly conditioning rides (tho someone's high intensity dressage ride could maybe get there too). Considering the fields are currently frozen and cantering for 5 minutes straight in our 20x40m indoor sounds like torture, it's a pretty safe bet that I'm not doing either right now.

Your mileage may vary, naturally, and perhaps 2000m straight of canter is a standard feature of your rides. Which.... well. More power to ya haha. But let's be real... most of us aren't hitting that threshold every ride.

The study also measured effects of 5 minutes trotting (4 m/s) and 5 minutes walking (1.8 m/s), but notably Dr Yates does not conclude that trot should be avoided at low temperatures - rather she decides only to avoid cantering and jumping at temps below 20F. The inference is that 5 minutes trotting doesn't constitute the level of exercise required to produce measurable negative effects in the horse.

yep, still hasn't moved lol. standing right where i left him.
So. The study found a lot of cantering all at once produced a measurable negative effect in the horse's respiratory system. We can infer from Dr Yates' recommendations that walking and trotting did not produce similar effects.

It does not logically follow from the research that lesser variations or durations of canter would produce the same measurable negative effects. Annecdote: Ask me to jog a 5K distance in 30 minutes and my lungs will feel very differently vs if I did it over 2 hours.

These details matter when reputable publications go on the record claiming science says: "If it’s under 20-23 degrees, it’s advisable to walk only to avoid damaging your horse’s respiratory tract." That advice is not supported by the linked research.

It's like they just saw "5 min of canter" and were too lazy to do the math, figuring, 'eh yea so probably no canter at all' without considering the average rider isn't exercising racehorses.

ok he moved a little bit to sniff jump standards
A noteworthy counterpoint is the positive effect of light exercise. For instance, Charlie is a high mileage horse who physically needs help to feel his best. The whole "motion is lotion" thing. He can't just sit in a field for a week then come out and get around comfortably and well. Hell, it took weeks for him to feel normal again after his stall rest this fall.

He gets creaky. LOTS of horses do. They don't move around much on their own when the ground is cold and choppy. Careful, purposeful schooling rides help keep them limber instead of stiffening up from the bad ground and cold weather. Riders can do their horses a favor by exercising them, and anyone inclined to do so shouldn't be scared off by oversimplified sound bytes.

mostly tho, he just stood there. no amount of scratching around in the dirt could convince him to roll. oh well, i tried!
Other considerations in understanding the findings from the studies linked above: The conclusions center on damage to the respiratory system after heavy sustained work (ie, cantering the length of an xc course). Aerobic type work, right? Heavy deep breathing, high heart rate.

But what about a different type of work? More focused on building muscle strength and suppleness? Is Charlie breathing heavily after two or three canter transitions in a row? After drilling into lateral work at the walk and trot? No, not generally. But are his muscles tingling? Hopefully!

Just because a ride includes w-t-c and ground poles or cavalleti doesn't mean it's gotta be a cardio-heavy type ride. All of those activities can center on anaerobic type exercises too - by thinking about short-lasting, high-intensity activities where the body relies on energy sources stored in the muscles vs relying on oxygen from breathing (like typical cardio). I think of these types of rides as "weight lifting" for the horse.

random aside: shirts with thumb holes make the perfect pockets for those Grabber hand warmer sachets!
The bottom line, as with anything with horses, is that we must be thoughtful and considerate of the work we ask of these animals. Walking breaks and thorough warm ups / cool downs are always a good idea.

BUT. Again: My interpretation is that I have options to safely school my horse in very cold weather. Canter sets are out. Running cross country is also off the table. But a run of the mill schooling ride? A couple low jumps or simple grid? Maybe some skijoring?? We're probably fine.

Why do I care, in particular? Well. Basically, I just want to ride my horse. And the suggestion that I'm doing so at the expense of my horse's health and well-being bothers me. The authoritative "Only Walk Below 20F" is an oversimplification of the science. It sounds like, "If you do X,Y,Z your horse will go lame and die!!!" while ignoring the reality of horses everywhere across the globe.

The science here, for the record, seems fine, tho incomplete. But some interpretations of the science? Lazy and misleading. Like, if you personally choose to avoid any activity with any likelihood at all of risking your horse's respiratory health... that's cool, nobody here is gonna judge you for being careful or warn you off the slippery slope. We all draw our own lines in the sand with horses. Just don't confuse a personal opinion with scientific fact, ya know?

when all else fails tho, coffee and bailey's is there to keep ya warm!
Ultimately, for me, right now, I just want to ride my horse. And I feel pretty confident in my riding choices promoting a healthy baseline condition in the horse while sustaining his level of schooling. It works for us, ya know?

If you don't feel like riding in cold weather, that's totally cool - no judgement. Your horse will probably be fine too. They're pretty versatile animals who generally do just fine in a huge variety of conditions anyway. If you wanna go riding tho? Go for it!

These are just my own thoughts, ideas, rationalizations, and general reasonings behind how and why I ride in cold weather. If I wanna ride? I ride! If I don't wanna, I don't! The horse is usually fine either way. What do you think?

68 comments:

  1. Thank you for this. I did the conversion of 20 F to Celsius and it came out as -6 and I was taken aback. We have always ridden at those temps. But like you said we're not doing heavy training just riding. I also think that it makes a difference whether indoor or out. I'd love to know if putting 4-5 horses in a 20 x 40 indoor changes the temp inside. I've ridden in Coverall arenas too and they warm up even in the winter if it's sunny out.

    All that said, I am NOT riding right now because the footing is rock hard with no snow cover. There's a bit a thaw right now and i hope that I will get out soon - Carmen is gaining weight despite how much I've cut her back. It's nice to think that horses frolic on their own outside and some do. My mare does not. She doesn't seem to see the point.

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    1. Yea footing is a real challenge this time of year - arguably the biggest factor in being able to ride or not. Indoors are so useful for that, and in my experience they definitely do hold heat and stay warmer than outside.

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  2. Amen!! If I had easy access to an indoor, you bet I’d be riding daily! But sub-20 (hell, it’s been down to single digits here) temps without wind chill and only the great wilds of the outdoors to ride in makes it miserable. I feel bad even taking blankets off to groom in this insane cold!

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    1. Ugh yea I don't mess with buckle blankets unless I absolutely have to. More for the sake of my poor fingers!!

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  3. i think footing is the most important thing right now, if you have good footing and can man up to ride in it, great, I know Remus can handle a lot colder weather than me anyday!! But I have not ridden all week due to not wanting to haul, the ground being frozen, not wanting to remove blankets (Tho my barn mate Kate let Remus out to run in the softer (Well softer than the rock hard pasture) ring yesterday so he could stretch his legs I love my barn people (I was stuck in stupid meetings all day). But to each its own. I am not judging anyone who wants to ride if they have the facility to ride (and can be safe and at least moderately comfy doing so). This is really odd how we have been cold for SO LONG in such a long stretch of days. Usually we have a break up of a day here or there. UGH. Today is brutal though. One thing to note is my horse gets turned out daily no matter the weather (today with subarctic winds and snow, you got it he will get out) so he at least gets to stretch his legs, eat his hay in his shed and keep his muscles moving till it is time to go back in his warm stall for the night.

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    1. Yea my horse is always out too. Agreed that footing is a huge factor too - it was the biggest challenge at Isabel's barn. We used to haul out all the time to fix that.... But sometimes the road or weather conditions made that not advisable. Which. Ya know. Ugh. Sometimes winter just sucks! I'm ready for it to warm up either way!

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    2. I cannot believe how much snow we got and how hard the wind is blowing! WTF. I am hoping we get some warmer weather soon!

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    3. Ugh yea my friends keep texting me about the storm. It sounds awful. I'm in Minnesota right now for work and even tho the temperature is lower here it's legit not as bad bc it's so dry. Crazy. Stay safe and warm!

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    4. It's freezing today with this wind and my guys are all huddled in their shed. I'm just happy UD decided to close so I can stay home with my puppies.

      But, I'm just done with winter until it warms up. The horses may be OK working in the cold temps, but I can't breathe when it's this cold and I work hard outside. So, I'm done riding until it warms up. I'll take 26 at this point! As long as the windchills are warmer than... 3!

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    5. i'm so done with winter too, it's really grinding me down. i'm keeping to the routine no matter what tho, as best i possibly can, just bc i've already missed out on so much time and i've got some big goals on my upcoming calendar that i want to be ready for. the indoor REALLY helps in that too! but yea... this weather... there's no judgement on not wanting to deal with it for sure!

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    6. Footing is a serious challenge. However, I will play devils advocate and suggest that working your horse on hard footing at the walk and limited at the trot can actually help build stronger bones and tendons. So ... you know ... get out there and freeze your legs off.

      Actually, from my own experience. You're more likely to lose feeling in your legs before your horse is going to suffer any detrimental issues from frozen ground (note: frozen ground is NOT ice. Don't walk your horse on ice, because that's stupid, and I know y'all ain't stupid. Right?)

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    7. the devil's advocate doesn't acknowledge that most ground doesn't freeze *flat* -- our fields and outdoor arenas freeze in the shape they were left with: rutted with hoof prints, uneven tracks, and the ever-present rail gutter. road hacking (whether in cold temps or otherwise) is great - and the snow/ice cleared roads can be one of the few respites from other bad ground. the fields tho? the uneven ground has proven to be really challenging for charlie, and isabel before him.

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  4. I totally get not wanting to ride when it is cold. I’m solidly there right now. When it is gorgeous 300 days a year I find no motivation to ride when it isn’t. When I lived in WI I’d ride in the indoor down to -5F, walk only with maybe some trotting after a significant warm up. My bigger issue was making sure she didn’t sweat so that she was dry when she went back outside. If horses couldn’t handle walking in the cold they would have died a long time ago.

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    1. Yea I mean making sure the horse is physically safe by being dry and whatnot is important. That's why Charlie's neck is clipped - he neck sweats constantly. But yea. Agreed that the horses are pretty well adapted to the conditions they live in haha. We don't give them enough credit!

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  5. *Mike drop*

    Or perhaps crop drop?

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  6. Thanks for reminding me to get my head out of my butt and go ride my horses.

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    1. I mean, if you wanna ride, ride! If you don't feel like it, don't! The choices is yours ;)

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  7. Let it snow bitches--momma be ridin', lol. :P

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  8. so true. it's all about perspective too and what the horse is used to - the horses in the study could've been un-acclimatized (probably not a word?) to working in cold weather. whereas horses in canada think 30 is balmy.

    basically, dont be an irresponsible thug. isolate your variables.

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    1. Yes exactly. Science is great and knowledge is power. But unfounded conclusions help nobody.

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  9. I don't ride in the cold because I am a wuss. I try to do *something* with Eli even if it's just grooming or hand walking, but I don't have access to an indoor and I am pretty sure the footing gets a little too crunchy below freezing, so that's my cut off. Eli doesn't seem to mind the break, although the one draw back is he gets stiff. But that works out in a matter of one or two rides.

    Winter is stupid.

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    1. Yea most horses I know have pretty strong opinions on crunchy frozen footing. Even those who are cool with deep or sloppy stuff can get uncomfortable in harder or sharper settings. Can't blame them - I've been crazy zealous about ground conditions (slippery or uneven) for my own self since breaking my leg. We do what we can but sometimes there's not much to do. Sigh. Boo winter.

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  10. Thanks for the interesting read!

    I usually ride (indoors) if it's above 10F. I don't jump and I don't do anything particularly hard but I think it's just good for them to move and there's still so much to be worked on. My main concern is just avoiding getting him sweaty. The next few days the best high we have is 9F so Maestro will just get some hand walks and maybe a quick turnout in the indoor if it's empty because I don't want to ride in that indoor or not.
    The boys at home certainly seem to have no qualms with running around in their pasture for fun at least once a day despite the cold temps, lol. Horses by far handle cold better than we do.

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    1. ha yea our turned out horses don't seem to care either!! they definitely do so much better with the cold than us lol

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  11. So much science! I don't mind riding in the cold...I'm originally from Chicago so even the coldest NC temps don't compare. Yesterday I went out to the barn after work as usual and BO/boarders were all, "You're crazy!" but hey, I haven't ridden in over a week! Unfortunately, the big arena's footing was pretty much frozen, so we didn't do much more that walk/halt and trot/walk transitions. But such is life.

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    1. ugh frozen footing is the worst, esp bc at isabel's barn the footing took forever to thaw even when temperatures improved. so it would be like 40 degrees and sunny and we'd be so eager to really RIDE, but the footing would still be concrete. blargh.

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  12. Forget the horses - I feel like crap after riding in winter. I sweat and then catch a chill I can't get rid of for the rest of the day.

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    1. yea that's tough too. i've personally kinda gotten a grip on that from working at farms in cold conditions for so many years - over time i've collected a pretty solid base layer of sweat wicking, insulating layers. but yea, first order of business upon getting home is a full outfit change! (and hot hot shower lol)

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  13. Yes, thank you for this! I've actually never heard people say that riding in the cold was bad - just take extra precaution to keep them warm after exercise and don't get them pouring down sweat - as in a very intense ride. I did know many people tho that didn't want to ride not because they couldn't or didn't want to, but because the horse went nuts in colder weather (keep in mind these were mostly very fit, stalled horses with very little or no access to turnout). It's really me who doesn't want to ride in the super cold haha. In North Texas it got down to 10* during the day at one point, and I had on 2 jackets, snow pants with under armor underneath, a ski mask, a beanie and insulated boots to stay warm in that temperature lol. But this is why I live in the desert because pretty much it hasn't gotten below 50* during the day - my kind of weather. Unfortunately, now that I really actually WANT to ride in the winter, I can't lol.

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    1. yea i mean any horse will get wound up when they aren't getting enough activity - whether from lack of turnout or feeling like they're not comfortable moving around much in turnout bc of bad ground conditions. some horses i know seem to get a little extra spooky in cold weather too, but. ya know. we work with what we got!

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  14. I tend to stick with "lighter" and "denser" work when it's cold. Walk and limber up, but then get the most done as far as possible before my toes freeze. I cantered last night because hey, it was finally above 20F! I think there's still plenty of power lifting to do at slow speeds (uh walk trot transition hell), but I agree that those studies didn't have a huge sample size and they needed more range of testing. A baseline in normal temps would be useful because maybe 48 hours after any exertion like cantering for 5 min would yield the same results. I took the studies as a "tone it down when it's cold but still ride if you want to" without looking at the scientific method behind it. Thanks for the more in depth look!

    My barn is heated, so Penn gets warm every night, and sometimes they're in all day if it's really cold. I see no harm in riding him slowly but purposefully in the extreme cold for 20 min. It's just not very pleasant, and after about 20 min I can't feel my toes!

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    1. yea i mean, i don't personally think speed matters in any temperature -- rather the science above seems to reflect that it's more about duration and intensity vs the actual speed itself. i'll canter in just about any temperature if there's footing to do so. but i'm not gonna do canter sets in extreme cold probably haha (just as i probably wouldn't in extreme heat). actually, for my purposes, in the cold i think a longer ride often works better than a shorter so it can all be spread out with lots of breaks between the "weight lifting" intervals, and more time to limber up. whatever works tho, right?

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  15. Like many of your readers, if I didn't ride when it was below 20 degrees, I wouldn't ride in the winter much at all. I'm lucky to have access to an indoor where temps hover around 35-40 degrees, and horses do well. However, my horses are moderately fit for what I am asking of them, and they're used to these temps. I also don't gallop or canter much, and they seem fine. Thanks for posting this. I fully acknowledge that when I don't ride because it is too cold, I am 100% doing that for my sake. :)

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    1. ha yea i think we all have days of saying "ehh, too damn cold today!" and just not riding. but like you say, most horses can do just fine, and esp most indoors can hold a lot of extra warmth!

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  16. LOL in San Diego people seem to only ride if the arena is bone dry and if its above 50. I on the other hand grew up in mudtown so bring on the wet!

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    1. lol we all get super acclimated to what our "normal" range is, and anything outside of that can feel crazy and unusual. even if.... our "unusual" is super duper common among other huge swaths of the country lol

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  17. When I worked at a racing stable ( many years and pounds ago - haha) we couldn't gallop when it was super cold because the track was frozen. But we jogged, and jogged, and jogged (ugh) in the shedrow. We did lots of walking to warm up and cool down. The horses all did fine. I think you need to consider a horse's condition. A fit-ish horse will be fine in light work. It might not be the best time to start trot sets on a pasture puff. Same with a rider. I'd probably have a heart attack if I tried riding now.

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    1. yup, no rest for the weary at a racing stable! and yea condition definitely matters, tho i'd argue that's the same no matter what. a non fit horse will also be fine in light work in cold temps. like.... really, if you're calling it "light work" the assumption would be you don't need to be very fit to achieve it, and the temperatures don't meaningfully change the impact of exercise in the way that some interpretations of the research have led us to believe. if anything, i think it'd be harder for a non fit human or horse to adjust to a new level of work in heat than it is in cold, or at least that's kinda how i personally feel about myself!

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  18. My primary concern for riding in the cold is my own well-being, haha! The wind here makes being out in the cold extra miserable (and makes the indoor feel like a wind tunnel if the wrong door is open) and I am just not that motivated. More power to you and everyone else who braves the ultra-cold!

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    1. Same. I don't take temperature into factor at all. If I feel like riding, I ride. If I don't, the cold is an excellent excuse. Although this mind numbingly low wind chill that makes my face burn like Hades isn't my idea of a good time to do anything in.

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    2. ugh the motivation is really what's really up. the worst is when the conditions don't match our motivation too. like when it's not that bad out but we just don't wanna, or when it's really really bad out and no matter how eager we are, there's no getting around the crappy ground. blargh. winter just blows no matter what i think!

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  19. I rarely worry about my horse in the cold. There is no chance of me ever harming his lungs working in cold weather because I wimp out far far before he would. haha

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  20. This is fascinating! I'm primarily concerned about my own well-being (though, I run hot) -- but having a circulation issue isn't helpful. The frozen ground is my big concern. I've been praying for snow so I could actually have something more cushiony to ride on:)

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    1. the frozen ground is the hardest challenge for sure, and once it's that hard and choppy there's basically nothing we can do about it (except snow!). i hacked charlie around the field the other day and the howling wind and extreme cold didn't seem to bug him, but the hard frozen choppy rutted ground really kept us to a snail's pace, with each step carefully taken bc the ground just isn't that comfortable. ugh.

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  21. We don't have to worry about cold temps preventing us from riding here in California. Well, not the temperature ITSELF. There are always a whole host of associated factors that go along with the cold -- crazy horses, no turnout, Murray's feelings when a chill breeze zips its way between his butt cheeks. But as you mentioned above, those are all personal/human oriented reasons.

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    1. Lol yea I mean horse keeping seems to follow hugely differently patterns in different areas. Like it's almost unheard of for horses to not get turnout in rain on the east coast whereas that seems common in places on the west coast.

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  22. When I was playing polo in college we regularly rode hard in the winter. We were in an indoor, but it was not heated. The horses might get a day off if there was too much snow to get to the barn, but we never stopped for cold. I'm all for keeping horses in shape rather than letting them stand just because it's cold. Nowadays, I would probably avoid hard work, but I wouldn't avoid riding entirely. At least, not for the horse's sake. I personally wimp out if it's like below 50 because now that I live in CA I have absolutely no cold tolerance.

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    1. yea i'm basically right there with ya. esp when i was working at the farms, sometimes there was just too much work that had to get done when conditions were really bad that riding got pushed to the back burner. or. ya know. we couldn't even get to the farm safely at all. but if we could get there and the farm wasn't in crisis? and we wanted to ride and had the space to do so? time to go riding!

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  23. If cantering your horse for 5 minutes was going to damage its lungs, Pig would be dead from COPD. As it is, his lungs are fine. We worked down to the lower single digits (really down to about 0) all winter when we were in the Midwest. That included hacks outside, dressage schools (and, my dressage schools DO often include 5 minutes of canter), and even some jumping. My thought is that the horse has a better system for warming air than humans, and I'll run outside in temps down to the negatives (and I'm a pretty severe asthmatic!). Honestly, I'd run then, too. But my clothes start to fail me when it gets that cold. Need better gear!

    The science on humans is much more complete than the science on horses, and the main take away is that it's pretty damn hard to do actual damage to your lungs in the cold. The only issues that can arise (airway constriction) come from the lack of humidity in the air, not the actual temperature. (Here's a fun recap of some studies) That constriction doesn't cause long-term damage. It's a short term reaction that goes away very quickly. Basically, the idea of scalding your lungs in the cold is a big ol' myth. Horses have even longer windpipes than humans, with a lot more body mass to help warm the air before it gets to the lungs. They are also adapted for MUCH colder temperatures than your average human, and more used to breathing cold/dry air.

    If you're legitimately worried, I'd suggest listening to your horse. If they're breathing hard, give them a break. If they are handling it fine, keep on. If you're looking for an excuse to be a big lazy sod, try just admitting that you don't want to ride because it's cold. We all do that sometimes, and it's okay. But scaring people about their beloved animal's health is decidedly not okay. We need to stop doing that, especially when we quote incomplete science and half-baked conclusions.

    /endrant

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    1. yup basically. i think there's other research in my links above on the horses that isn't so much talking about damage to the lungs, as it is talking about thickening in bronchial tracts. other of it discusses build up of mucus that leads potentially to an increased vulnerability to respiratory diseases like bronchitis or pneumonia.

      i'm not totally ready to write off the potential for negative effects from the research, but i'm seriously skeptical of what people are interpreting in horses from this one limited selection of research.

      the idea that "walk only is advisable in 20-23F temps" with the above research linked as "works cited" is bogus. and a poor, lazy, unfounded interpretation of the research. it's disinformation and i don't like it. i esp don't like anybody who would be high and mighty in saying "well what you're doing is proven to be bad for your horse." bc. c'mon folks.

      seriously tho, i have no judgement for folks who just *can't* in this weather. bc that's normal and natural and totally find. but dont' say it's bc it's "unfair" to the horses haha

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    2. Preach it! I have no judgement! Just don't tell me I'm hurting myself or my horse!

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  24. ...Yeah. I'm a Southern baby. When temperatures get below 40 for a high, I'm... I'm just done. The outdoors no longer exist when it's below 20. Negative temperatures are not real, sorry, that's just not a thing I acknowledge. lol (On the other hand, I will ride when it's 105 freaking degrees and humid, because Texas - if you don't ride in the heat... you're not riding.)

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    1. ha yup!! i think that's totally fair. we get used to our climates and that's what we work with! and so long as we're careful in any type of extreme, it usually works out well enough... tho i definitely struggle a bit when it's 105 lol

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    2. Yep, exactly! And tbh, I struggle in 105 degrees too - but I can deal with it by not being outside between about 1:30 and 5:30, tanking up on water, using one of those cooling towels that it seems insane that they work, and of course praying that my horse is not at the other end of the mostly treeless 20+ acre pasture... and waiting until the herd gets thirsty and comes up for water if s/he is. lol

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  25. Oh not riding when it is in the teens is totally my thing. I am pretty sure May loves the cold and would be perfectly happy if we moved up to Canada. I, on the other hand, wouldn't mind winning the lottery and going south each winter.

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    1. ha personally i'd be fine with that lottery scenario too! lol

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  26. This is why they designed indoor arenas! Riding out in a blizzard with temps in the negative 30's is very different from riding in a wind-free indoor while the temperature OUTSIDE is wicked.

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    1. lol yes, being outside IS very different from being inside!

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  27. I think it also depends on your horse's fitness. At what point do they start to breathe hard? Theo will start to puff way before a racehorse, so I have to assume it would take less cantering for him to be affected. I also have to consider what will cause him to sweat. Sweat that freezes is a real mess and at some of the temps we're seeing? It happens fast. My personal rule of thumb, no cantering/jumping below 20, nothing more than walking below 10, and HECK NO at 0 and down. Mostly because most of my horses would like to kick me for taking their blankets off at those temps.

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    1. that's totally reasonable - everyone has their own opinions and each horse is an individual. there's no judgement here for anybody who makes personal choices about what to do or not to do with their horses in cold weather. don't feel like drying off a sweaty horse? neither to i! (mine is clipped for that exact reason lol).

      all i'm saying above is that a personal choices shouldn't be confused with scientific fact. and when reputable publications like Horse Nation or Jumper Nation go on the record claiming that the research linked above says something that the research linked above in fact does NOT say, there's a real problem. disinformation is not ok. being too lazy to read the fine print and misquoting science is a big reason why science as a whole has a credibility problem these days.

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  28. The lesson barn I was at in Alberta cancelled lessons at any colder than -20c (-4f). It was an unheated indoor, so no wind at least, but yeah we were still jumping and doing all the things all winter. The horses never seemed to suffer, in fact they were pretty frisky. Worth noting though, the barn/grooming area part was slightly heated and the air was dry so no worries about cooling them out (they dried quickly in there) before turning them back out.

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    1. Yea basically the same here. Whether in northwestern New York or wherever, the only time we really cancelled lessons was when storms or nasty driving weather was actively in progress. Only bc driving conditions were dangerous. Otherwise tho we just rode as normal!

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  29. Typically in Texas we have the conversation - what weather is too hot to ride your horse? To which my trainer responds - none, just take lots of breaks and have water out in the arena for them. There's rarely anyone out in the very cold weather but I agree with you - motion is lotion and the more they get out and move around, the less stiff they are (and crazy in their stalls). We do a LOT of trot sets as warm up

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