Ovation Riding

Cool Weather Guide

Chill Out with Ovation: Essential Cool Weather Riding Tips for Equestrians

Embrace the winter months with your horse and navigate the challenges of cold weather riding. Utilize the quieter season to strengthen your bond through grooming sessions, groundwork, and leisurely winter rides at a walking pace.

For those with access to indoor riding arenas, maintaining a consistent winter riding routine is feasible. Simple adjustments to the regimen can ensure your horse's well-being during indoor workouts. If an indoor facility isn't available, there's no need to worry – you're not alone. Many backyard horse owners opt for a winter break, occasionally indulging in snowy trail rides to appreciate the seasonal scenery. Others make the best of weather conditions to sustain a steady riding routine. Even regular walks under saddle can contribute to keeping your horse reasonably fit during the winter months.

Tips for the Rider


Layer up to maintain a comfortable body temperature while braving the cold during your rides. Prevent both yourself and your horse from getting chilled due to perspiration by opting for a layered clothing approach. This method allows for easy addition or removal of clothing as your body temperature fluctuates, creating pockets of warm air within the layers for effective insulation. Choose fabrics designed to wick away perspiration for the layers next to your skin, ensuring you stay dry and avoid feeling damp, which can make you colder.

Steer clear of tightly fitting clothing and footwear, as direct contact transfers your body heat to the item, leading to heat loss. For upper layers, consider a high-necked shirt like a fleece turtleneck for exceptional warmth and moisture management. Alternatively, pair an athletically styled shirt with a microfiber vest, a smart choice for keeping your torso warm while fitting comfortably under outer layers.

When it comes to outer layers, explore a range of options, including jackets and parkas specifically designed for equestrians. These garments boast moisture-resistant and insulated features, ensuring both functionality and comfort during rides. Details such as tapered waistlines, longer back hemlines, and strategically placed gussets are incorporated to reduce bulk, provide coverage in the saddle, and offer freedom of movement.

Opt for insulated winter riding boots designed to create a space for warm air circulation. Ensure a proper fit, as toes touching the end of a boot can lead to colder feet. Choose from various styles, including tall winter riding boots and winter paddock boots, ranging from sleek designs suitable for competitions to more rugged, sporty styles perfect for navigating through snow.

Even during the winter riding season when the sun is farther away, it can still pose potential risks. Keep applying sunscreen just like you would in the summer, and don't forget to wear sunglasses to shield your eyes from both UV rays and the glare of the snow when riding outdoors. UV Long Sleeve Shirts help shield the sun's harmful rays.

Winter Riding Essentials

For the Horse

Assessing Horses shoes and hooves in the winter, a bare hoof is safer during winter than a shod one, providing horses with more traction in snow and ice. If your horse goes without shoes, trim their hooves every four to six weeks to minimize ice and snow buildup, reducing the risk of slipping.

For shod horses, consider incorporating shoe pads to protect the sole from bruising and decrease snowballs and ice accumulation. While studs on shoes enhance grip, they can pose risks to other horses or humans. Therefore, consult your farrier or vet to determine the most suitable option.

In certain footing conditions, using hoof boots over both bare and shod hooves can offer extra traction, akin to snow tires for your horse!

Increase Feeding Before and After Riding
Winter exercise consumes a significant number of calories, and your horse is already using substantial energy to stay warm. Compensate for the additional effort by providing extra feed rations before and after a ride. Supplementing a bit more food helps sustain energy levels and supports maintaining a healthy body weight. Personally, I offer my horses a small wet mash before tacking up and a larger one after returning.

Gradual Warm-Up is Key
In cold temperatures, it's crucial to ease horses into their warm-up. Much like humans, their muscles, bones, and joints can become stiff in the cold, and gradual activity helps them become more flexible.

To reach the trail for a ride, I typically allocate around 15 minutes of walking. This duration generally proves sufficient to warm up my horses. On particularly chilly days or in windy conditions, I'll include a rump rug if the temperature drops below freezing.

Winter Riding Accessories