Horse Power


By Brooke Howell | Skijoring Magazine

Running on snow Snow and ice are not as easy for horses to run on as dirt or turf. Riders have different options to help their horse with traction. Going barefoot can help a horse to have a natural traction. The way a horse’s hoof is trimmed and in balance can also help them with traction and balance. Different types of shoes can help. Taking a regular shoe and melting bohrium on the toes, sides, and heels can turn a regular shoe into cleats. The bohrium will bite into the snow and ice. Another option is to shoe the horse with shoes that can have calks screwed into them. Calks are small spikes that can be screwed into the bottom of the shoe and then removed after the race. Another option to help is adding pads or snow poppers under the shoes. This prevents snow build up on the bottom of the hoof. If using any sort of spike or bohrium on the shoe it is important to use splint boots and bell boots on the horse’s legs to protect against accidental cuts from overreaching. Regular shoes are not recommended as they can impede traction.


Quarter Horse

Quarter Horse One of the most popular breed of horse used in skijoring is the American Quarter Horse. One reason Quarter Horses are so popular in skijoring is their ability to sprint. The name Quarter Horse came from the breed’s ability to out sprint other breeds up to a quarter of a mile. The Quarter Horse is known for its short stocky stature that enables them to not only have sprinting ability but also pulling strength; both great attributes in a skijoring horse. Quarter Horses are also known for their calm demeanor and great work ethic. They are a very versatile breed from being used on the ranch, in the rodeo arena, or show arena. The Quarter Horse is also a very popular trail partner. The American Quarter Horse Association is the largest breed registry in the world. The Quarter Horse is also the most popular horse in the United States with 2.4 million registered.



When most people think of horses and races, the Thoroughbred is the horse that comes to mind. The Thoroughbred horse finds its origins in England. They are known for their extreme speed and endurance. The Thoroughbred is usually a taller slenderer built horse. They are also known for their high spirit. Thoroughbreds are popular in different racing competitions due to their extreme speed. Most Thoroughbreds are raced as two, three, or four-year olds. After their on-track racing career, many start a second career in another discipline. These horses are referred to as off the track Thoroughbreds (OTTB).


Appendix Quarter Horse

Under the American Quarter Horse registry there are two types of registration issued: a regular registration and the Appendix registration. The origins of the Quarter Horse can be traced back to the 1600’s when horses of Spanish descent were crossed with the English Thoroughbreds. Since the Quarter Horse breed finds it’s root with Thoroughbreds they still allow registered Quarter Horses to be bred to Thoroughbreds. However, these horses are given an Appendix registration. They are still eligible to compete in all sanctioned Quarter Horse events; however, they are only able to be bred to regular registry horses if the owner wishes the progeny to be registered. With the agility and strength of the Quarter Horse and the endurance and speed of the Thoroughbred you will see Appendix Quarter Horses in many speed related competitions, including skijoring!


Horses in the Winter

Many people think if they are cold outside then animals are cold also. Not always true. Horses grow thick winter coats with longer hairs on top and shorter hairs underneath. This helps with airflow to keep them warm. Horses actually start growing their winter coat in August. Horses are photosensitive so they begin to grow a coat when the days start to get shorter, not when they feel cold. Hours of daylight control a lot of a horse’s system. Horses are also cold weather animals. They prefer temperatures between 20 and 60 degrees F. As long as they can stay dry and out of the wind, either by shelter or trees, they can easily tolerate temperatures down to -40 degrees F. Horses are also what we call internal heaters; the more they eat, the warmer they stay. Horses can increase their intake of feed 50 percent or more when it is cold. It is very safe to ride horses in the winter as long as the rider takes the time to dry and cool them out if they break a sweat. Hydration is also very important. Horses don’t like to drink water with a lot of ice in it. It is very important to also make sure they have fresh clean water, free of ice. Not only do horses use water for hydration, but it is important to keep roughage moving through their gut to prevent colic. When trailering a horse in the winter, it is important to take frequent breaks and water the horse to ensure they are getting their daily intake of water. It is also important to blanket horses in trailers that are open where the wind can blow in.


Feed and Recovery

Just like human athletes, horses need a good nutritional and exercise plan to keep them in top shape. Many people put their horses up in the winter and get them out again in the spring. The benefit of skijoring is it gives horses a way to stay in shape the year round. There isn’t a need to spend time in the spring trying to get them back in shape. The main difference with performance horses and feed is the amount of energy they need. Horses get energy from the carbohydrates and fats they eat. There are many different ways for horses to have carbohydrates and fat in their diets. Examples are: grains (corn, oats, barley), beet pulp, oils, or concentrate pellets. Every horse is different in their needs so it is important to work with a nutritionist or veterinarian to fi nd the perfect diet for your horse’s lifestyle. Good nutrition will also help your horse’s muscles to recover allowing them to run multiple races in a weekend.


Published on 8/14/2019 (1 years 41 days ago)

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