If there’s the slightest distraction, your horse may be tuned in to what he’s
feeling and not focused on you.
/ The Wind Takes Away /
On windy days, horses suddenly can’t rely on the senses they trust and their
behavior can change dramatically. While a horse usually could hear a predator
in the bushes getting ready to pounce, in the wind everything rustles. When the
air is calm, he can see little changes with his eyes, but when the wind moves
everything at once, it’s hard to see what is a threat and what movement is inconsequential. Without that information, a horse will be more on guard.
Some horses are more sensitive than others. On a stormy day, a horse may be
edgy and tense. He already feels like something will go wrong.
If you’re riding along and your horse spooks at something, jostling you in the
saddle, he may feel that change of weight as added pain. In your shock at the
spook, you may also pull hard on the reins.
The horse that was already worried that something would happen has now
had his fears realized. When he becomes fearful of fear, that’s a hard training
issue to overcome.
/ When to Call it Off /
When should you expect your horse to work well no matter the weather, and
when should you call it off?
If you’re training a new horse, riding in the wind may not be worth it. If you
had a big breakthrough in your last training session, it’s not worth training in a
windy, sense-depriving environment that may cause your horse to behave differently than he could otherwise.
If you have a well-trained horse, you may make a different choice.. I have ridden my horses in all kinds of inclement weather. However, I don’t want to push a
horse that is just learning or at a tenuous place in his training.
Ultimately, you are the one in your partnership that can weight the pros and
cons and make an executive decision. I tend to err on the side of caution.
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