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The Curly, A Trail Horse for All Seasons - Winter

by Susan Lejonhud

Residing in Maine, my hardy Curly and I have four distinct seasons to enjoy while trail riding. There is no "putting him up" for the winter, and I know many Curly lovers and riders across the United States and into Canada that ride all year round as well.

Yes, winter riding does offer its special challenges. But, unlike some hot-blooded breeds, Curlies are well-suited for the winter months in northern climates. Their thick, warm curly coats offer super insulation, and I never have to bother to blanket or clip. Besides, who would want to clip those gorgeous curls? J Another advantage of winter riding with my Curly is that he does not need shoes year round, so not only do I save a bundle on winter shoes, but I don't have to worry about snow balled up in the hoof nearly as much. His big, tough, round hooves just need their natural trim on a regular basis, and he's good to go.

I took a very peaceful and memorable ride on my Curly RCR Ah D Das (pronounced "Adidas") in January during a snowstorm. This snapshot reminds me of the moment when AhD paused on the trail and alertly but calmly gazed ahead. Seconds later, a big beautiful graceful deer leaped across the field ahead. Unfortunately, that wasn't the only run-in we had with that deer, who spent the winter behind my house. I also have a distinct memory of careening down the trail on a very startled Curly after aforementioned deer jumped out of the woods in front of us. Luckily, the deep snow kept AhD's gyrations to a minimum - another advantage of winter riding. Horses cannot gallop fast through deep snow, nor can they move quickly enough to unseat the average rider. And, if you are unlucky enough to head for the ground, you have a big blanket of natural white stuff to break your fall! Some fellow Curly riders do most of their bareback riding during the winter for that very reason. You also have the advantage of a toasty Curly back to keep you warmer! Personally, twenty degrees is my cut-off point for comfortable winter riding, but to each his own.

I take advantage of snowmobile trails for winter riding as well. Here we are with my trusty Lab Grace on a family excursion. One of my kids joined me on snowshoes, as well as all four of our Labs. We had a blast meandering around that day, and scared up a white rabbit and a grouse.

There is nothing like the pristine beauty wintertime has to offer up after an ice storm. The ice sparkles and clings to the trees, and then falls to the snow below for more glitter and sparkle. The sun creates prisms of beauty. The snow muffles noise, so the woods are incredibly peaceful and refreshing. You can see much farther through the woods and notice scenery that is not apparent during the other four seasons. If you ride after a fresh snowfall, tracks of critters that were there before you tell a tale in the snow.

A wintertime riding article would just not be complete if I neglected to mention one of the most positive aspects.NO BUGS! Experiencing winter from the back of a Curly is awesome! Especially enjoyable are those curly ears and ring locks of mane and forelock creating a lower frame for your view.

Words of caution, however, beware of boot biters! I know of many fresh and spunky Curlies who enjoy this pastime way too much in every season of the year.

Happy winter trails to you all! -Susan and AhD

About the Author: Susan has been part of the International Ride-A-Curly contest for the past 2 years, being awarded in 2008 by fellow RAC'ers for "Favorite horse & rider team" and also "Most improved rider." Susan and her loyal equine companion,, AHD have been an inspiration to many as she shares her experiences through her wonderful stories. To read more about this pair, visit the RAC blog in 2008 and also 2009.

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