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[RC] Riding in winter (Julie) - Melissa Margetts Ms. Kitty

Juli, I can give you my personal input given IMHO. I live at 9,600ft, 8 miles up a jeep road so I kinda know what "Being in the middle of
nowhere". I have wintered my horses up here and though I don't have a barn shelter for them I do have some tall pines cliffs and scrub brush
for the ponies to get into a protective area to get out of the really bitter winds. Thou back in 89 I built a shed for them, seems that my
guys are pretty hard core and that winter, they refused to go into that shed and if you led them in, they immediately ran back out and
preferred to be outside and had beaten down paths within the pasture. I never put winter blankets on them unless we rode and they had gotten
real sweaty with their heavy winter coats. Then I would unsaddle and immediately threw a fleece to wick up the moisture, and then threw a
winter blanket over that & turned them loose. I would check on them three or four hours later. The moisture from the sweat was gone and when
I felt that their bodies were dry and warm, I take both of the blankets off. That's when they loved to roll and shake off the snow. I usually
ride three or four times a week. I try to be saddled up and and be back home after a three or four hour ride. I wear full coverall Carhardts,
boots and mittens with those little hand and foot warmers in both. I wear a hunters wool hat with the long ear flaps so my head was warm.
Then I Finished it off with a neck warmer that I could pull up over my mouth and nose to protect from frostbite. Yes I know this sounds like I
must look like the Michelin Man. But I was toasty and warm. The most important lessons learned, I WON'T ever ride with steel shoes. Even if
you spray Pam on the underside of the foot inevitably it only lasted a short time before painful icy snowballs would build under the hoof
sticking to steel shoes. A couple of years ago I did the 5 day 250 mile on the Ducks North Rim of the Grand Canyon I rode for two of the 50
mile days with another girl who was riding a horse with steal shoes. It was the worst weather the ride had ever experienced. It rained the first
day and then started to snow for the remaining days. All the rigs & trucks back at camp, started to sink in the deep mud. The Forest Service
thought that all the damage being done by trying to winch these rigs and trucks out, was going to give the meadow untold damage and it was
possible that we would not be able to have the ride the following year. Dwayne burnt out two winches trying to get the sunken trucks and
rigs.Camp was lower and rained but did't snow there much.On the trail, there was still more rain and snow. EVEN Naked Dave Rabe had full pants,
gloves and a jacket. That's saying a lot if you know Dave and his daisy dukes and wife-beater muscle shirt, that he rides in at most of his
rides. Several days we rode with goggles, etc, we'd be covered in several inches of snow. On that trip I DID blanket Cabo every night for
the entire night, knowing that we had to ride 50 the next day, (always with a rump rug) And had his winter blanket and supplies to the next
check or hold. Annie always had hot coffee and hot water for hot chocolate. SOoo, I added bran to his grain and diced apple and diced
carrots to the next and soaked the whole thing in hot water and mixed it well. When the mixture was cool enough to still be very warm but not
hot, Cabo would chow down and have warm food in his belly for the next stretch. The girl who had the steel shoes did not have an easy time
getting on and off, so it was me who would get off and dig the snow balls out of his hooves. I was wearing Christoff Schork's great equiflex
rubber shoes with pads and borium cleats for the ice. Cabo was pulled at mile 48 as he was stiff. But he was sound the next day and ready to do
more. At the end of this last day I developed really bad blisters and chapped skin from riding with the canvas Carhardt seam rubbing on the
inside of my upper thighs. 248 miles in my Carhardts! (I learned that I needed two pair of winter tights with no inner seam, UNDER the
Carhardts) I'm attaching a few pics to show where we ride in winter at home here in Telluride Colorado as well as conditions at camp on the Grand Canyon ride. http://.www.php?aid=85a4a&id=1428832070
So in summation, IMHO, you can ride in winter comfortably toasty, Take care of your horse, and condition them all winter (here winter starts with snow in September lasting until late May.) Good luck and be prepared. The more you ride them in snow, they develop an added conditioning and ability to pace themselves in these
conditions..Again this is just MY experience so someone certainly may have other thing to add.
Melissa Margetts
Telluride Colorado


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