Winter Riding

    7 tips for making winter rides more enjoyable.

    Winter Riding Winter Riding

    Smartphone Photographer

    10 of the best photo apps on the market to help you capture your horses in unique ways.

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    Full Circle

    An old gelding returns to us in his senior years.

    Full Circle Full Circle

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    Results from the 43rd edition of!

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    PRCA & CPRA Extend Agreement PRCA & CPRA Extend Agreement

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Winter Riding

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Winter can be a brutal time of year when it comes to riding horses, but it’s not impossible. With careful planning and knowledge, you can ride safely and enjoyably throughout the winter months. Here are a few tips to help you and your horse make the most of your riding, be it for pleasure or getting fit for spring competitions.

 

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1. STAY WARM – YOU AND YOUR HORSE
The minus degree temperatures might not mean much until you factor the wind chill in. When riding in the winter that cold, raw wind can have negative effects on your horse’s lungs, so use good judgment when taking your horse outdoors, and try to stay out of the wind as much as possible.

You can layer your winter clothes, but keep in mind – you do have to get on the horse, and you don’t want to limit your movement so that you can’t ride effectively. Choose winter boots that have some kind of heel, and a smaller foot that will easily slide in and out of a stirrup.

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2. WARM THE BIT AND OTHER EQUIPMENT
There are varying opinions on this subject but if putting our tongues on cold metal is similar to what a horse feels when a cold bit is put inside its mouth, it’s easy to imagine how it feels. A heated tack room is ideal, but if you don’t have one, at least keep your bridle and saddle pad in a warm area. If your saddle pad is warm and sweaty when you remove it from the horse’s back after riding, put it somewhere where it can dry. If not allowed to dry properly, this can create the opportunity for bacteria to grow on the underside.

3. FOOTING
It is imperative that you find somewhere to ride where your horse has good footing. It goes without saying – avoid ice at all costs and stay off frozen gravel roads, where the ground can be like cement. Also, avoid riding in hard crusted snow which can cut your horse’s legs and make the bulbs of the heels very tender. The best place to ride is a snow-packed trail, where there is no hazard of slipping and there is some snow to minimize concussion.

 

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4. BAREFOOT OR SHOES?
There are pros and cons to both options.  If you are unable to avoid icy areas, shoes with borium or caulks might be a good option. It depends where and how much you are riding; your farrier’s advice will be your most valuable tool in this case. A major problem with shoes is that they allow the snow to pack in the cup of the hoof and your horse ends up with big balls of snow stuck to his hooves.

This will also happen with a horse that is barefoot, but it may not be as much of a problem. Some riders swear by “snow pads” – rubber pads that can be put on by your farrier and help force the snow out of the horse’s foot.

 

5. FITTING UP FOR COMPETITION OR RIDING FOR PLEASURE
Whether you are riding for pleasure, or in preparation for spring competition, it is important to treat your horse like the special athlete he is. If you are only riding sporadically throughout the winter, go easy on your horse, as he won’t be in shape for miles of hard riding.

If you are conditioning your horse, start slow and progress accordingly. Factor in the activity level of your horse prior to the training program. How many months did he have off? Was he stabled or in a pasture? What kind of feeding program has he been on? How much hair does he have?

It only takes a bit of exertion to get a horse sweating when it’s really cold, and this is something you should try to avoid in the winter. A wet, long haired horse can take an awful long time to sufficiently dry, but you should not put him back outside in the winter elements until he is completely dry.

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6. COOLING AND DRYING YOUR HORSE
It’s always necessary to get a horse cooled down properly before turning him out, but in the cold months, it is absolutely imperative. If you have a warm barn, you can leave your horse inside until he’s dry but if you have a cold barn you may need to find other ways to help your horse cool down and dry in a timely manner. Grooming with a curry comb in a circular motion lifts the hair and allows it to dry a little quicker than if it is all laying flat.

A cattle blower/vacuum is a good tool, as you can “blow dry” your horse’s hair. The noise of the machine could be a limiting factor, but most horses eventually relax.

After grooming, put a woolen blanket or cooler on your horse to wick away the moisture. If your horse wears a blanket, the outdoor blanket must fit well. The belly straps must be snug to keep the blanket in place and to avoid the possibility of the horse getting a foot or leg caught. A hood provides more protection, keeping the neck covered as well. Using a blanket and hood will encourage shedding in the spring and the horse’s hair will stay slick and shiny during the winter months.

 

7. CLIPPING
Body clipping is an option but only if you are prepared to keep your horse in a warm indoor environment until the weather warms up, unless you have a heavy-duty blanket with a hood for your horse to wear outdoors. Certainly, the cooling off period for a clipped horse will be much shorter than long-haired one.

If your horse will still be kept outside, it is not recommended to clip the fetlock/pastern hairs. Horses need that hair to protect their legs from the crusty snow and to keep their legs warm.

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With some preparedness and consideration, winter riding can be most enjoyable, for yourself as well as your mount.

Smartphone Photographer

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Love snapping shots with your smartphone? We’ve rounded up 10 of the best photo apps on the market to help you capture your horses and western lifestyle in unique and creative ways.

Facetune – $8.49
Improve your selfie shots with the tools in Facetune, from whitening teeth, improving skin, brightening dark circles and even reshaping noses and intensifying lips.

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Hipstamatic app.

Hipstamatic – $3.99
Get vintage looking photographs by choosing between different films and flash settings. When you’re done, share your prints with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr and Tumblr, with a few simple clicks. There’s even an option to order hard copies of your favourite photographs.

Instagram – Free
The online mobile, photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking device that has taken the world by storm. Enables users to take pictures and videos and share them privately or publicly on the app, as well as through a variety of other platforms. Follow Western Horse Review on Instagram @westernhorsereview

mobile-monet

Mobile Monet app.

Mobile Monet – $2.79
Give your photos an artistic touch and convert a photo to a beautiful artistic rendering employing a creative interactive process.

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Over app.

Over – Free
Arguably the classiest app for adding text or artwork on top of your photos. A full set of unique fonts and artwork to use and when you’re done Over lets you easily share your creation via email, text message, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or you can also send it as a postcard.

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Pic Stitch app.

Pic Stitch – Free
Quickly combine multiple photos into one beautifully framed picture. Use Pic Stitch to create a before-and-after sequence, combine great photos of your horses, or produce a photographic series.

SketchGuru – Free
SketchGuru is a professional app to make you an artist by creating pencil sketch of your photos.

 Pick a picture from your gallery or capture one from your camera to generate the sketch.

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Snapseed app.

Snapseed – Free
A great app for enhancing and transforming photos, including an Auto Correct and Selective Adjust and Tune controls. Try one of the filters which offer up Drama, Grunge, and Retrolux, Vintage Film, Tilt-Shift miniaturization effect and HDR for landscape shots.

Vapp – Free
Taking a selfie with your favorite equine and need a hands-free approach? With Vapp, all you have to do is make a sound, and the app will take a picture for you. Of course, your iPad or iPhone will have to be sitting in the right position to begin with.

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Vintage Deco app.

Vintage Deco – Free
The neat app is designed to give your images a retro scrapbook feel. Great fun to be had by importing a picture just to play around with the nostalgic stamps and borders.

Full Circle

with-christa

He came first, into the life of my husband. The sorrel horse was 18-months-old – unbroke, but had a solid temperament. He was sired by Super High Gear, out of the mare Ms Lyndi Lou, born in 1991 and came from John Miller’s breeding program.

My husband, Clay spent countless hours with the gelding who eventually became known as “Doc.” Clay could lead Doc by his tail, send him to the far end of an arena, make him wait patiently and then call him back again. Clay used Doc in his clinic demonstrations, rode him bridleless, brought the cows in at the ranch, and to help start other colts.

doc-at-clinic

Then as often happens in a trainer’s life, came a moment when Doc could become a safe mount for someone else. In 1999, Doc was sold to new home. But as fate would have it, we had the opportunity to buy Doc back in 2001. Clay and I had recently become engaged and shortly afterwards, I incurred a bad ankle break after coming off a polo horse. When I had healed up enough to ride, I needed something to help build my confidence again. Doc was the horse for the job.

I learned to ride western on Doc’s back. I got my first showing experiences with him and truly got a chance to refine my horsemanship. When Clay and I were married, our friend Gabriele Noll painted Doc’s portrait.

Painting by Gabriele Noll.

Painting by Gabriele Noll.

But again, as life sometime goes in chapters, Doc was sold again – to another loving person who really needed him.

Christa Vindum purchased Doc back in 2008. Before that sale, we had said we never wanted to part with Doc again. But never, say never. Christa too, needed a mount that would build her confidence. Doc was 15 at the time. Considering his age, it would have been hard for anyone to take a chance on an “old horse.” But during her time with Doc, Christa has ridden him on trail rides, in cowboy challenges, in shows, clinics… you name it. All the youngsters in her family also learned to ride on his back. Christa would later move to Idaho and she took Doc with her, where they continued their adventures.

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So again as life turned over another chapter, Christa contacted Clay and I earlier this year (2016). Now at age 25, Doc was still in great condition and still, the miraculous type of horse that could teach riders and instill confidence in them. His brand is faded, he has a lot more gray hairs now and in theory, he might not have many more years left in him.

But Christa wanted to know if we wanted Doc back.

Obviously, we agreed to take him back immediately – although we weren’t quite sure how to work out the logistics of shipping him up from Idaho at the time.

Christa offered to trailer Doc straight up to us.

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And we found it ironic as she told us the story of crossing the border.

“The Customs officer wanted to know what Doc’s value was,” she chuckled. “I’m looking at the guy – telling him that Doc is 25, suffers from ‘excessive sleepiness,’ and requires some special supplements for joint maintenance because of his age. How do you put a price on a horse like that?”

With a smile on her face and perhaps a tear in her eye, Christa continued. “To me, a horse like that is priceless.”

doc-little-b

We think so too.

Doc has had amazing homes with the other people on his papers. But he has returned to us for his remaining years. We are so grateful to have him back for the things he will teach our young children, are invaluable. He’ll teach them to ride a couple times per week. He’ll teach them about responsibility and empathy. He’ll teach them about commitment and love.

Doc has come full circle. He will live in the barn, be turned out during the day and given all the necessary joint supplements. He deserves it.

While we can’t take all of our horses sold throughout the years back, there are definitely a few that deserve to live out their days with us. We could never regret giving the mounts that have given their wisdom and precious gifts of education to us, a good home in their senior years.

They’re worth it.

***

If you have a special story of a horse that’s come Full Circle, please let me know by firing WHR an email at: editorial@westernhorsereview.com

 

 

 

 

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IC The Biscuits - Photo by: Barbara Glazer

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