How Cold is “TOO COLD” For Riding?

I’m one of those crazy people that you see out at the barn every day during the winter. I actually prefer winter riding over summer riding for a variety of reasons; mostly the lack of mud, bugs, and heat. So, being the snow-bunny that I am, I am frequently asked “Isn’t it too cold to ride that poor horse?”. I think you’ll be fairly surprised at the answers the world wide web provides: “There is no temperature where it is too cold for a horse to be ridden or to go outside if they are adapted to it” – Dr. Joyce Harman, Equisearch   Horses have one of THE most amazing cooling and heating systems in the animal kingdom. Their dense coats “fluffs” up in the cold and trap in the heat their body produces through eating and exercise. Horses actually produce heat when they digest food. You may notice horses eating through round bales faster in the winter. This isn’t just out of boredom, it’s to keep warm. They may also have quick bouts of friskiness, which is also to keep warm. The only thing temperature-wise you really have to worry about in the winter time is wind. Wind can penetrate the dense coat of a horse and give them a chill, but shelters or wind breaks take care of that problem. What about blankets as wind breaks? The problem with using a blanket as a wind break is it actually flattens the horse’s coat. When the horses coat is Continue Reading →

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Hoof Problems: Part 2; Treatment & Wrapping the Hoof

If your horse has an abscess or soft soles, you will need to protect the hoof by wrapping it, and poultice it to draw out any infection/toughen the sole. When an abscess is present, it’s very very very (VERY) important to make sure the hoof is clean before wrapping. Soaking the Hoof (Abscess Only) To do this you can soak the hoof in a shallow pan of water and Epsom salts. I usually put in 2 cups of Epsom salts and 3-4 inches of water in the pan/tub. I find plastic ground feeding tubs the best for soaking. If your horse has bruised soles, you don’t want to soak the hoof as this will soften it even more. Make sure the water is room temperature. Your horse probably won’t like standing with his foot in a bucket, so be ready for him/her to leap out of the bucket and splash water every where. You might want to hold the horse on a lead rope the first few times! NOTE: In winter, soak the hoof in a clean, dry stall so you don’t have ice forming in the aisle if your horse knocks the bucket over!  What You’ll Need  A mixing bucket (for bruised soles) Iodine Sugar (for bruised soles) Duct Tape Diapers VetWrap Scissors Diapers (I used Newborn size)     Step 1: Dry and Clean the Hoof If you have bruised soles/soft soles and therefore haven’t soaked the hoof, you’ll still need to clean the hoof out before wrapping Continue Reading →

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Hoof Problems: Part 1; Soft Soles & Abscesses

Most horse owners have been there… You go out to ride your horse, and he/she limps into the barn like their leg is broken, barely putting weight on the limb. You immediately assume the worse, and start your detailed check of the limb for heat/swelling… but there is none! You move down to the hoof and sure enough, there is heat/bruising in the hoof. Assuming there isn’t anything lodged in the hoof, you’re probably looking at an abscess. If you have recently ridden on a gravel road/hard ground, you may also be looking at softening of the soles. How to tell the difference: What you’ll need: – Hoof testers – Hands capable of noting temperature differences – Hoof pick with brush Step 1: Clean the hoof out thoroughly using your hoof pick & brush. You may want to lightly soak the hoof in a small pan of water to really clean it out, so you know what you’re looking at. Step 2: Look for any bruising/discolouration in the hoof. It is usually spread out, coming from the frog (the most sensative part of the hoof).             Step 3: Check for temperature differences in the hoof. If there is spread out bruising and the sole seems warm to the touch, you’re probably looking at bruised & soft soles. Bruised/Soft soles will “give” when you press down on the sole with your hand. If there is no bruise, or a small bruise, but a temperature difference in Continue Reading →

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Gamble is Back! Win in Training Sr. Division at Twisted Pine

As part of Gamble’s progression back into full competition, I felt it would be a good idea to do a couple of lower level events — ideally with some new fences to get him back into “brave” mode.  So we went to Twisted Pine this weekend to do a Training Level event.  There wasn’t a lot of competition — there was only one other person in Training Sr. division.  But her name is Kelly List, who is a 3* Eventer, so while there wasn’t much competition, Kelly certainly provided an excellent quality of competition — so much so that I’d already written-off my chances of winning. But as it turned out, my dressage test went very well and I ended up just a smidge ahead of Kelly.  And, in fact, I ended up with the high Training Level dressage score of the day (I was also higher than the 3 junior riders, who I never take for granted) with a score of 75.48%.  I’ve never had as good a test score.  See the test here: Dressage Test – Twisted Pine Horse Trials – Training Division – Bruce and Gamble – September 21, 2014 Next was Stadium Jumping.  We had to warm up quite a ways from the Stadium course which was held in their arena.  Holding Stadium in the arena was a good decision because it poured buckets earlier in the morning and the footing could have been an issue.  The downside was that the arena was very tight.  I watched Continue Reading →

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Eventing Memes!

Here’s a collection of eventing memes 🙂 Just for laughs!

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Hackamore- What, When and How?

In stereotypical Thoroughbred fashion, Oz gets bored with bits fairly quickly. As we’re focusing on different aspects of our training, I like to switch bits to help facilitate our training. It’s kind of like switching between running and walking shoes depending on what you’re training your muscles to do. I decided to share my research into hackamores in case anyone else is considering the switch! What is a Hackamore? A hackamore is simply a nose piece used to control the horse, rather than the traditional metal bit going through the horse’s mouth. Some call it a “hackamore bit”, but I’m going to reserve this term for the combination hackamore bit. Generally they work by applying pressure to the horses nose, and poll. There are several different kinds, with different purposes—just like any other type of bit. English Hackamore: Flat nose piece, with a short shank and curb chain. This hackamore is common for training purposes and is a great starter hackamore (it’s the one I use). It’s soft on the horses face, and can even come with sheepskin padding or without. Pros: Cheap, Soft, Good for moderately strong horses – Snail paced Cons: Can be hard to clean (sheepskin), curb & shank can be too much for some horses             German Hackamore: The german hackamore has longer shanks and, although fairly straightforward, has a bit more “breaking power”. Pros: Great take-and-give action for hot horses, soft steering Cons: Need super-soft hands (not for amateurs), can Continue Reading →

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Off Track Eventing tries Schrammo’s Snake Exercise!

Well, we’ve been in a DEEP FREEZE for over a month now. The horses are bored, the riders are frozen, and we’re running out of things to keep us busy in the indoor arena…. But thanks to Evention TV, we got to try something new today! Take a peek at the video below to see the Off Track Eventing team attempt Schrammo’s Snake Exercise. Find the original exercise & video at or watch it below! Evention Tv Season 2: Episode 9 from Dominic Schramm on Vimeo. With this exercise I really got to test Oz’s adjust-ability and straightness on a bending line. I had to give up some control in order to keep a natural rhythm and Oz had to put his head down and stretch over the poles, figuring out where to place his feet. I already have a million other ideas that involve this basic exercise and can’t wait to try them! Thanks Dom & Jimmie! We love your channel and look forward to more exercises 🙂

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“Magic Hands” — Oz and Massage

My horse is tough. Thoroughbreds can be very sensitive, but also very resilient. That’s what makes them such great partners in this sport. They’re forgiving, and they’ll keep going—Even if they’re in pain or uncomfortable. My horse, Oz, has the added bonus of being bred tough. His sire, Skip Away, ran his entire Hall-of-Fame earning career with a known bone chip in his ankle. “And when you’ve got a horse who tries as hard as Skippy does, he’s really special to you. We’re not ruled by the dollar.” – Sonny Hines, Skip Away’s beloved trainer. Because Oz is so stubborn and tough, I often find it difficult to tell when he’s unable to do something or just plainly doesn’t understand how to. That is why once a month Oz get a visit from his sponsor, Carrie Copley, RMT & Equine Massage Therapist, to let me know what’s going on that I can’t see and can only sometimes feel. I thought it might be helpful to readers for me to share why I get massage for my horse. Let me start by saying this: I can only tell you what works for me and my horse. If you don’t get massage for your horse, you are not a terrible person. You’re far from it. The fact that you’re reading this blog means you’re open to others opinions, and interested in educating yourself. If you decide/you’ve decided that it’s not something you’re interested in that’s fine. We can still be friends. I’d Continue Reading →

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Off Track Eventing: Strength shows not only in the ability to persist, but the ability to start over

Welcome to Off Track Eventing! This website is dedicated to the (horse) trials and tribulations of an eventer and their dedicated groom who are tied together by their admiration of Off The Track Thoroughbreds (well, that and their family tree). Follow the blogs of Bruce Lamb (Eventer) and Kate Veinot (Dedicated Groom & Recreational Rider), enjoy interviews & audit reports with top clinicians, and articles containing valuable lessons learned during their adventures! Not everyone gets it right the first time, including our ex-race horses. We’re willing to share our adventures with the world so we can learn from each other’s successes and mistakes (mostly that of the later on this site). We hope you enjoy, discuss, laugh, and ride on!

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