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[RC] riding in winter Ooops! I just reread my post and made the neededchanges to links - Melissa Margetts Ms. Kitty

Juli, I can give you my personal input given to you IMHO. I live at 9,600ft, 8 miles up a jeep road so I kinda know what "Being in the middle of nowhere" means. 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. Though back in 89 I built a shed for them, It 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. They had beaten down paths in the snow within the pasture. I never put winter blankets on them unless we ride and they had gotten sweaty with their heavy winter coats. Then I would unsaddle and immediately threw a fleece on them to wick up the moisture. Then I throw a winter blanket over that & turn them loose. I would check on them three or four hours later. When the moisture from the sweat was gone and when I felt that their bodies were dry and warm, I take the fleece off. I leave the winter blanket on them for another hour then remove that. That's when they loved to roll and shake off the snow. I usually ride three or four times a week during the winter. 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 packaged hand and foot warmers in both. I wear a hunters wool hat with the long ear flaps so my head is warm. Then I finish 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 am always 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 Ducks 5 day 250 mile 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 result in the meadow sustaining 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 and trucks.Camp was at a lower elevation than the ride trail and it rained there but didn't snow there much. On the trail, there was a lot of rain and snow. EVEN Naked Dave Rabe had full pants, gloves and a jacket. That's saying a lot if you know Naked 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 another 50 miles the next day, (always with a rump rug) And had his winter blanket and supplies brought 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 and soaked the whole thing in hot water and then I mixed it up 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 horse wearing the steel shoes, did not have an easy time getting on and off her horse. So it was me who would get off my horse and dig the snow balls out of her horses hooves. On the other hand, I had my horse wearing Christoff Schork's great equiflex rubber (not sure whether they are really flexible Rubber shoes or a different flexible plastic) with his pads and barium cleats for the ice. I highly recommend them and I also have ridden with them at every 100 miler on Cabo. (Check out Christoffs web page that describes these Equiflex shoes at Global Endurance .com) Cabo was pulled at mile 48 on day three, on the Grand Canyon Duck ride as he was a bit 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 when riding a 50 miler or more) I'm attaching a few pics to show where we ride in winter at home, as well as conditions at camp on the Grand Canyon ride. You need to press the following link, when the single picture appears, you need to go to the top of the page press the tab that says Melissa Margetts, another picture will apear and you just scroll down and highlight the" riding in winter" album and then all the pictures apear. Touch each picture to make them larger, Whew!r http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=125750&l=ba6b8&id=1428832070 So in summation, IMHO I think 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 and add another level of conditioning and ability to pace themselves in these conditions..
Melissa Margetts


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