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Winter riding and horse care tips

Chief_snow2 (Medium)If you live in an area with real winters or just have a horse that grows in a super heavy winter coat you know that riding and conditioning this time of year can be a challenge. It’s hard to get in good rides not just because of the shorter daylight but because you don’t want to bring back a sweaty horse that is going to stay wet for hours, often past dark if you aren’t able to ride early in the day.

Those of you that have indoor barns are sure lucky but since I know many don’t here are a couple of tips from an endurance rider on how to manage keeping or getting your horse conditioned through the winter months.

Horses with heavy winter coats can easily heat up so be sure to keep an eye out for that. They sweat, but the sweat doesn’t dry quickly so that can add to the problem with the horse overheating, losing electrolytes and then possibly becoming chilled. It can be quite tricky to find the right balance to keep your horse comfortable.

I try to plan to not bring a wet horse back to the barn after around 3 p.m., otherwise I know they’ll still be wet for several hours. Sometimes though, you don’t have any choice and it just works out that way. Ideally you want your horse to have a nice fluffy and dry coat so that they can stay warm. My trick is to use a fleece sheet first and then put a winter blanket on over the top of that. Then later I can pull the sheet out from underneath while leaving the blanket on so the horse stays warm. This way the fleece will absorb the sweat and provide an extra layer of insulation while my horse dries. One thing to avoid is turning your horse out still wet with their hair matted down.

s1870001The next thing to keep an eye on if your horse is sweating regularly with a winter coat is their armpits and girth area. Even if you brush the sweat off it still can be damaging to the skin and eventually you can end up with scurfing of the skin and a sore horse. I find my endurance horses are often very sensitive and require that I keep these areas as clean as possible which means I need to regularly use a sponge and water and completely remove the sweat. It’s easy enough to bring a small bucket of water and do this. If you aren’t that close to your hot water supply then save a 2 liter soda bottle or similar container and bring it out that way. It doesn’t take a lot, just enough to wet your sponge a few times. Also, be sure to keep your girth clean. It’s easy for a problem to develop and go unnoticed due to the thick hair on your horse so be sure look and feel these areas every time you ride.

s1870002Finally, sweating horses need to be kept hydrated. Mine are always fed a nice wet mash of Stable Mix, which is a complete feed, and Redmond Daily Gold and Daily Red. I’ve posted about the benefits of Daily Gold before as I’ve had Bo and Chief on it every single day since Bo had his colic surgery due to the benefits of it removing toxins and anti-ulcer benefits. It’s been two and a half years now without a single episode of colic in either horse so I’m not going to jinx anything and stop using it! The boys also really like the Daily Red in their mash and it also has turned out to be one of the ingredients they like the best in their “sweetwater” recipe. I usually offer a smaller mash while we are tacking up and getting ready to ride, and then a little larger one after returning. If it’s very cold out I’ll bring some hot water to the barn for the mash.

s1870006 s1870009There was a research project that I remember reading that showed horses eating wet mashes in the winter still drank the same amount of water. What that boils down to is that by providing wet mashes, you are increasing the amount of water intake in your horse. This can go a long way towards helping your horse stay well hydrated during weather changes and when they are sweating when being ridden.

redmond-rockIf any of you would like to try the Redmond Daily Red product, listen to the December episode of Endurance Day on Horses in the Morning for a 15% off discount code!  This includes  the 5 lb pouch, case of 6 pouches, and the 25 lb bucket of Daily Red and is good through January 31, 2017. Thanks Redmond Equine!

Happy winter riding everyone!

My sweetwater recipe

http://www.karenchaton.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Bo_sweetwater2.mp4

Ever since I posted about this on my FB wall, I’ve gotten more requests for the recipe and have had a huge amount of positive feedback at every single ride I’ve been to.  This stuff may not work for everyone, but since so many have given me such positive feedback I thought I’d post it in my blog as it can be a big benefit for your horse.

This honestly is not

Continue reading My sweetwater recipe

Something to try if you have sore feet

Muddy feet!

My feet have been bothering me for some time. The left one is worse due to a horse stomping on it many years ago. After I did Tevis last year both of my feet felt numb and tingly for a couple of weeks afterwards. I went to the chiropractor and used the hot tub frequently and tried anti-inflammatories.

Nothing really seemed to help. I just sort of ended up accepting it

Continue reading Something to try if you have sore feet

Endurance Day for January 12, 2016

Karen on Chief and Julie on Aubie. Photo by Lisa Peck.

We had a fun morning talking about everything related to the Rose Parade and the AERC Parade Riders.  Guests were riders Julie Suhr and Shelley Child and the Equestrian Chair from the Tournament of Roses Parade Ellen Swaggerty.

Click here to listen!

Here is the link to our group photographer, Lisa Peck.

 

Continue reading Endurance Day for January 12, 2016

Find Your Adventure: Riding in the Rose Parade 2016

Kayla with Bo; Karen with Chief.

I left off in the last post with us riding up the freeway off ramp to go into our staging area.  After a week of festivities and months of planning and preparing, the time was finally here.  The actual getting to ride in the Rose Parade!

We got into the staging area, where the horses peed.  We dismounted and got our boutonniere’s on and shed our jackets. 

Continue reading Find Your Adventure: Riding in the Rose Parade 2016

Find Your Adventure: It’s New Year’s Eve!

The week seemed to fly by, though at times it seemed to be in slow motion.  Today (the 31st) reminded me of the Heinz Ketchup commercial — anticipayayayayaytion.

Anticipation, anticipation Is makin’ me late Is keepin’ me waitin’

Photo by Lisa Peck. Formation practice.

The previous week had been filled with lots of social events for our group, breakfasts, lunches and dinners plus the Equestrian Reception, Equestfest, trail rides and practices.  Lots

Continue reading Find Your Adventure: It’s New Year’s Eve!

Find Your Adventure: Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, 2016: It’s Showtime!

Doors opened to the public at 10 a.m. on the 29th at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.  AERC volunteers had already been busy for hours getting the AERC booths set up in the vendor area and those of us with horses has been busy as well getting stalls cleaned, horses walked and beginning to prepare to ride in Equestfest.

I was feeling a lot more confident now that my horses had more time

Continue reading Find Your Adventure: Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, 2016: It’s Showtime!

Find Your Adventure: Listen to two AERC Rose Parade rider’s first hand account

Connie Creech and I were both interviewed by Connie Watson and Shannon Weil at KAHI 950 AM radio in Auburn, CA on our way home from the Rose Parade.  Listen in…..  KAHI Rose Parade Riders Interview

http://kahi.com/audio_files/The%20KAHI%20Corral.mp3

Find Your Adventure: Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, 2016: Practice Failure and Success

We are back from our great adventure to Burbank and Pasadena where my two horses, Granite Chief and Pro Bono had the honor of performing in Equestfest on December 29th, and then were ridden in the Tournament of Roses Parade on January 1, 2016.  I thought it would be fun to do some blog posts detailing our adventure and how the trip went.  It was truly a once in a lifetime experience on so

Continue reading Find Your Adventure: Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, 2016: Practice Failure and Success

News Story on Parade Riders

One of our members did a great job in a local television interview!  Enjoy….

CBS News 8 – San Diego, CA News Station – KFMB Channel 8