#FlashbackFriday Riding horses in the winter

#FlashbackFriday This was originally published in February 2017

Liv Sandberg, UW-Extension equine specialist
Department of Animal Science
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Total time – 3:04

0:15 – The winter difference
0:50 – Helping with footing
1:32 – After riding care
1:48 – Cold weather precautions
2:30 – Getting traction
2:54 – Lead out


Sevie Kenyon: Being careful riding your horse in the winter and spring seasons, we’re visiting today with Liv Sandberg, Department of Animal Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Sevie Kenyon. Liv, what’s different about riding your horse in spring and winter?

Liv Sandberg: You do have to take a few precautions and just think about your conditions. Think about the elements and how that is going to affect your horse. Your horses, even if you’ve been riding indoors, your horse needs to be in condition. And, when you are out riding remember that when you’re riding through snow, that’s a lot more work for the horse just like it is for people to walk through snow. So, they are going to work harder at the same distance and the other big issue is footing, if it’s kind of slippery out it’s probably not a good idea to go riding.

Sevie Kenyon: Are there things riders can do with the footing to help the situation?

Liv Sandberg: I would say to visit with your farrier because every situation might be a little bit different on what type of footing they would recommend. If you are going to ride and do any fair amount of riding, you might want to consider shoes. So, with your farrier there are snow pads. They are called “pop pads” and they do exactly that. They’re like half a bubble and when they step in the snow, it pops the snow back out and there is also a winter rim pad you can put on the horse’s foot with the shoe underneath it and then you can still clean the foot out. So, those are a couple of options for you to consider.

Sevie Kenyon: After a good workout in the snow and ice are there recommendations you have for putting the horse away?

Liv Sandberg: So, it’s pretty easy. Bring them in put like a cooler or some sort of like blanket on them until they’re dry. And then, once they are dry give them a good grooming and kind of fluff their hair back up because that hair in going to provide a natural insulation when you put them back out.

Sevie Kenyon: Are there other cold weather precautions people should take?

Liv Sandberg: Make sure that your water tanks are open for the horse after you’ve gone out for a ride. They are going to need to drink water. You don’t have to necessarily change what you are feeding them. Just make sure that they have had enough opportunity to eat hay to replenish the energy that they used, but also make sure that the footing area around your barn isn’t a sheet of ice for them. Horses do not like to walk on ice and with good reason. They slip and fall. If you have some sand down that will help a little bit with traction. You can use some woodchips as traction, if you already have some gravel down that will also help.

Sevie Kenyon: Are there other traction options that people can use with their horses for icy conditions?

Liv Sandberg: There are a couple of good options for people that are going to put shoes on their horses. Your farrier can do one of two common things and one of them is to put borium on shoes. They weld a drop of borium on a couple of corners that will help with the traction and then the second one is caulks that you can screw in and screw out of the shoe. It’s a different type of application but it will provide some traction for them.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting today with Liv Sandberg, Department of Animal Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Sevie Kenyon.