How Cold Is Too Cold To Ride?

Last Updated on March 18, 2022 by Allison Price

Horse world debates over what temperature is too cold to ride are similar to blanketing. This issue has been brought up by the unusually cold weather in the United States. Some people are content to wait until the weather warms up before riding while others continue with their training.

Horse Nation has compiled some facts on cold-weather riding that will help horse owners decide what their riding temperature should be.

  • The horse’s respiratory system is designed for warm and humidifying air before it reaches his lungs. Horses who are asked to work and exert energy must deepen their breaths. This prevents the air from warming up enough before reaching his lungs.
  • Three separate studies have shown that horses who breathe in air below 23 degrees F can cause lung damage. It is important to note that these studies were not done on horses in their natural environments. Therefore, it is unclear whether horses who live in cold environments are more able to adapt to colder temperatures.
  • Exercise can cause damage to the respiratory tract up to 48 hours later. These injuries included narrowing of the respiratory tracts and an increase in white blood cells.
Cold To Ride

Dr. Angie Yates, Yates Equine Veterinary Services, Indianapolis, IN stated that she doesn’t recommend jumping, trotting, or cantering below 20 degrees F.

Here are some things to consider when riding in the cold.

  • Heavy work on horses’ legs and feet is impossible when the ground is frozen.
  • It will be more difficult for horses to go from a heated barn to a cold outdoor arena because they are forced to breathe in unheated air.
  • When temperatures drop, take more time to cool down and warm up your horse. It is best to allow your horse to warm up and cool down in the cold before you start schooling.
  • It is unfair to ask an infirm horse to work hard in very cold weather. He must be able to breathe harder to do the job.
Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!