At this time of year, Revelstoke looks like a fairy tale winter wonderland. People are flocking into the mountains to enjoy the snow but at the Selkirk Saddle Club (SSC), winter takes a calmer pace, though the horses and their humans still keep busy.
And while the January cold snaps may have curbed the most enthusiastic of riders, twice a day members are feeding their horses, checking winter horse blankets and making sure water heaters are doing their job.
“In the winter I still ride my horse Tyke in the arena or on the road and trails if it’s not too icy. Or I take my mini mule Grover for walks,” says Emily Wright. “I take Tyke and Grover into the arena for a romp and roll as well.”
Many members bring their horses into the arena and let them loose to burn some energy. Others work on groundwork, lunging, horsemanship and liberty training if they are not riding.
Traci Ludwig, a western coach who has four horses at the club, generally doesn’t let the winter weather stop her from riding. “I do take a break when it is really cold and icy though,” she says.
Photo: Horses in the snow. ~ By Megan Lund
Competitive rider and trainer Shandelle Mathusz believes it’s important to utilize winter riding. “It’s the prime time to train for spring and summer competitions. You wouldn’t expect someone to compete in an Iron Man with just a couple weeks training,” she explains. “To responsibly compete with your horse in shows, you and your horse need to be conditioned and training pre show season.”
The cold weather, especially when there isn’t a heated arena to train in, can be a deterrent, but Mathusz explains that a proper warmup and cool down keeps it safe for the horse.
“It’s crucial for any athlete, more so for horses in cold weather,” she says. “Studs in horse shoes are great for winter trail riding, which is super important for the mentality of the horse year round, but you must be aware of the conditions.”
Club president and trainer Amanda Lovenuik is a fan of feeding more to her horses in the cold weather to help them keep warm. “I just feed extra and count the dollars leaving the barn,” she laughs. “And when it comes to winter riding or playing with the horses, my best tip is finger and toe warmers. If you’re riding, wrap one around the bit before you put it in the horse’s mouth.”
Local equine enthusiasts are happy to trudge through the snow to spend time with their horses. Helen Kondos-Sheppard periodically brings her kids down to pet the horses, even though her children are not currently taking lessons.
While some people embrace the chance to ride without mosquitoes, others are happy to take the winter off.
Ron Glave, club vice president, is experiencing his first winter at the club. “Do I love riding all summer?” he says. “Most definitely. As for winter, I’m not riding the trails. It’s a time of little riding and doing work at the club instead.”
Members of the community are encouraged to come down the Selkirk Saddle Club and enjoy the area.
“It’s a beautiful place year round,” says Loveniuk. “Just please be aware of the speed limit, loose dogs and ensure you have the horse owner’s approval before your give treats like carrots to the horses.”
The winter season is also a chance for members of the SSC to hunker down and organize their largest fundraiser of the year, the Revy Stomp. The Stomp is a licensed country music dance and silent auction that has been sold out since the beginning of the month. It is taking place this Saturday at the Community Centre.
Photo: The Selkirk Saddle Club’s indoor riding arena, which opened in 2014, provides a place in winter for horses to train. ~ By Dianna Jones