With fall comes rain, at least in Texas. Actually, the past couple of days have not felt much like fall at all. This morning, it was warm and humid; and rainy. Chance was not too thrilled about working in the “inclement” conditions today. He wasn’t terrible, but wasn’t great either. He was a little lazy, yet a little spooky at the same time. We just hacked. It was drizzly while I rode, but luckily the ground was not too wet. Riding in the rain is not my favorite, but I can usually get through it.
Rainy day rides are not bad, but it is important to make sure the footing is safe if you are going to brave the rain. Deep, sticky, sloppy mud is can cause injuries to horses; they can pull shoes, and even pull tendons. When it rains really hard, sand can get packed down which is sometimes a good thing; but sometimes it can be slick. Riding on slick sand can cause a horse to slip and fall, especially if cantering through a turn too quickly or jumping. Grass can also become very slick when wet, so always use caution. Puddles are usually fine to ride through as long as the dirt on the bottom is not too deep or slick. It has been so dry here in Texas lately that light rain the past couple of days has not really affected the footing very much; however, it likely will later in the year and through the winter months. When riding on less than ideal footing, it is always a good idea to go slow – especially when cantering or jumping.
Some horses can get a little spooky and wild in the rain. Thoroughbreds especially can be a little sensitive to the rain drops. Chance is usually pretty good unless it is just pouring. But who likes working in the pouring rain, really? Body-clipped horses can be a little jumpy when rain hits them too. However, most horses go out in the pasture when it rains; and if you go to horse shows, I promise that you will have to show in the rain at least once! Thus, it is good to get them used to it. For many horses, the scariest place to be in a heavy rain shower is the barn. Rain sounds loud on a tin roof! This morning as I was tacking up, I kept thinking that it was raining harder than it was because of how it sounded on the roof.
I think it goes without saying that you should never ride if there is any lightning! It is never ever ever worth it. Also, most horses do not like loud thunder, so just the sounds can make riding dangerous. Really heavy, monsoon-like rain is not great to ride in either. Heavy downpours make it hard to see, are bad for tack and equipment, and cause the ground to get very muddy very quickly. I have ridden in heavy rains at horse shows, and I have gotten caught in them while riding at the farm, but usually I do not ride if it is pouring.
If you are heading out for a ride in the rain, it is always a good idea to dress appropriately. I have a rain jacket by Ariat. I have had it for several years and it is in great condition. It has a slim fit, so it doesn’t feel too bulky and it looks nice. Back when I horse showed all the time, I would sometimes wear rain pants over my riding pants on a cold rainy day. I do not remember what brand I had, but I know Pikeur makes them now and I am sure other equestrian brands do as well. They are basically waterproof pants, but they only go down to the top of your tall boot. When I had to show on a cold, rainy day I would typically wear my rain jacket and rain pants over my show clothes while warming up, then take them off right before I went in the show ring so that my clothes would stay nice as long as possible. The rain gear also kept me warm!
I am sure I will be braving the rain more and more as we head into the fall and winter months. I am not complaining now because we need it badly here, but I might be singing a different tune by January! At least Texas winters do not typically get too terrible though. Best of luck to the rest of you braving far more inclement weather!