As New Englanders, we SmartPakers love the fall. It’s a beautiful season full of glorious riding weather and two of the best holidays. But it’s also the warm-up act for winter, which is slightly less awesome when it comes to life in the barn.

Personally, I’ve been in a bit of denial lately. When I see leaves on my car in the morning, I shrug and think, “must’ve been really windy last night!” But the truth is quickly becoming unavoidable. The days are getting shorter, the weather’s getting cooler and the season of layers (for horses and riders) is officially upon us.

Cold-weather barn life brings a unique set of challenges, and every rider has their own tips and tricks to make the best of it. So I polled the riders at SmartPak and I’ll be sharing our collective brilliance over a series of blogs, starting with our best recommendations for warming up and cooling down.

Five tips to use in the tack

A proper warm up and cool down can help keep your horse happy and healthy

  1. Give your horse more time to warm up, especially if he was wearing a blanket—his muscles are chilly!
  2. After your ride, walk under saddle for 10-15 minutes, putting your cooler on halfway through
  3. When you get off, don’t pull off your saddle right away, just loosen the girth and let your horse stand in his cooler to cool out slowly
  4. After a few minutes, remove your tack and leave the cooler on until your horse is dry
  5. Currying sweaty spots or rubbing them with a towel can help speed up the drying process

Do you have any tips for making the best of a chilly situation? Share your smarts in the comments or on our Facebook wall – pictures encouraged!