Campus Recreation Blog
May 27, 2022
Written by Heather Salvia, Associate Director of Fitness and Programming
The gym is supposed to be a place where people can go to improve their physical fitness, develop friendships and community with others, and have access to a variety of equipment to meet their needs that they wouldn’t otherwise have at home. But there is one fact about coming to the gym that reigns true over time — going to the gym makes us more aware of how we look, for better or for worse.
In an ideal world, everyone would humbly see their unique beauty; there would be no false standard to hold themselves to. Physical fitness would not be dependent on aesthetics but rather strength, mobility, and metabolic function. We would see our inherent value, apart from appearance, and God’s intentionality in discussing the status of our hearts, not our glutes or biceps.
In our real, fallen world, this may not always be how we feel. In the 12 years I have been working within a gym setting, I can understand the highs and lows of this reality and have been there myself. This is why I want to drop some encouragement to anyone coming into the gym who needs a reminder of how they should see themselves today. Read these. Let them sink in. Repeat as needed.
What God Says
I won’t apologize nor believe it is cliché to include scripture here, because what God says about us is the single most important thing, not what man says. Let’s break it down:
Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
- Make no mistake — you are a masterpiece of the greatest artist of all time and space. And don’t just glaze over that — think about it. God Himself wove you together into who you are. Considering how much needs to align in the human body for a baby to grow and be born, it is a clear miracle you are here.
Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
- This is profound because our society idolizes charm and beauty — maintain at all costs. When we place our value on these things and what pleases the world, we feel empty, insatiable, and lose sight of our inherent value. Focusing instead on what pleases our Abba leads us to confidence, assurance, and inward peace. Unshakable value.
1 Samuel 16:7 says, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
- People instinctively look at outward appearance; it’s natural to do so. Please don’t beat yourself up for noticing your appearance. But pay closer attention to your heart and the hearts of others. The real goal in life is not to get massive arms, a six pack, or a smaller waist. It’s to grow to live and act more like Jesus. If the Creator of beauty Himself looks more inward than outward, that should be our cue to check out our hearts instead.
What You Can Say
Your intention matters. What you think and say to yourself affects every aspect of your health. What you think and say about others affects your relationships. Below are some affirmations that you can choose to say to yourself and others as image bearers:
- I am strong and capable.
- I am beautiful and uniquely made.
- I am thankful for my body and all it does to keep me going.
- I am loved and valued for who I am.
- Being vulnerable is a strength.
- I am confident and self-assured.
- I choose not to fear; God is with me. His rod and His staff, they comfort me.
- I choose peace given by Jehovah Shalom.
Use this list or create your own list of affirmations. Equip yourself with truth when the temptation to feel insecure and down on yourself comes up. Whether you are at the gym or anywhere else, you are stronger than the deceit and the lies because you have the power and authority given by Christ Jesus over the enemy. Step into that and feel the freedom and assurance that follows!
May 13, 2022
Written by Pearson Bonnett, Assistant Director of Lodge Operations
Overlooking Liberty University’s campus from the top of Liberty Mountain, the Barrick-Falwell Lodge hides an avid outdoorsman’s stories of courageous expeditions and frightful encounters. These awe-inspiring tales are concealed in the numerous taxidermies displayed on the walls of the Lodge. Recently, I had the privilege to hear some of the stories from a living legend, Dr. Alan Barrick.
Background of Dr. Alan Barrick
To begin, who is Dr. Alan Barrick? A close friend to Jerry Falwell Sr., Dr. Barrick is a longtime supporter of Liberty’s mission and has donated a large portion of his hunting collection to the university. Dr. Barrick served in the Air Force as a dentist for several years before transitioning his career to a clinic. During this time, he made trips all over the world to hunt some of the world’s most dangerous animals. “Fair chase,” the type of hunting Dr. Barrick preferred, describes hunting big game animals where the hunter does not have an unfair advantage over the animal.
Doctor vs Grizzly
When Dr. Barrick starts a story with “that was a life-or-death situation,” you know things are about to get thrilling. He was hunting in the Cassiar Mountains in Northern British Columbia. Like many of his hunting expeditions, Dr. Barrick had a guide to help him navigate the wilderness. The two men spotted a bear in an open area surrounded by evergreen trees, sleeping beside a moose it had just slain. As Dr. Barrick and his guide approached to a distance of about 75 yards, the bear jumped up. Dr. Barrick took a shot that broke the bear’s right front leg, but as the doctor said, “that just irritated him.” His guide also took a shot but then promptly disappeared from Dr. Barrick’s side.
At this point, the bear jumped into some nearby brush. Dr. Barrick took another shot, which, unfortunately, connected with a branch. He then looked down to check his rifle, and when he glanced back up, the bear had begun to charge directly at him. Knowing he had no chance to outrun this massive grizzly, Dr. Barrick stood his ground, waiting for the right moment to strike. When the bear “hit the ground” 40 yards out, he took the shot. The beast stumbled to the ground as the bullet pierced his chest. Dr. Barrick took a deep breath and turned around to find his guide 100 yards away in some brush! Had Dr. Barrick not found his target, he would not be here to tell the tale. This exact animal can now be found upstairs in the Barrick-Falwell Lodge.
Just one of many stories from my interview with Dr. Barrick, this was one of my personal favorites. Imagining a grizzly charge at you is frightening enough, but managing to keep your cool enough to hit a 40-yard shot requires a different level of courage. Dr. Alan Barrick is inspirational, both from his adventures but also his desire to support Liberty University’s mission to train champions for Christ.
April 29, 2022
Written by Katy Ward, Assistant Director of Outdoor Adventure
It’s getting to be that time…time to make some summer plans! Lucky for you, we are located in a state absolutely full of adventure – there’s something to suit everyone’s fancy! We believe that everyone is capable of venturing out and trying something new. Hopefully, with the help of this list, you will find something that catches your attention and plan your own trip. Let’s jump in!
This hike is an absolute blast! After a short 1-mile hike, you find yourself at the base of an 8-acre rock scramble. From the bottom, you can’t even see the top peak. What makes this adventure fun is you get to pick how you climb, and if you do not feel like climbing there’s a trail that follows the rocks to the top. This climb is the perfect mixture of rock climbing/bouldering, hiking, and sightseeing. It can be as easy or as technical as you want it to be. There are no set paths; you create your path the whole way up! On the way down, you can choose to climb your way back to the trail, or you can take the parallel trail back down.
A couple of notes:
- There is limited parking here, so be prepared for a little bit of a walk to the trailhead, especially on weekends.
- In the warmer months, be sure to watch out for snakes as you are climbing. They tend to seek shelter in the shade of the rocks. Nothing to scare you away; just use caution as you go.
- The trail that follows the rock yard is steep both ways. Be careful, especially when coming back down.
The Tye River
This is one of the lesser-known rivers in Virginia, as it is mostly surrounded by private properties. However, there are a couple of public access points where you can park and get ready for the river! Stretching 34 miles, the Tye River has a little something for everyone. Fly fishing, bird watching, tubing, swimming holes, kayaking, and canoeing are some of the activities you can enjoy. Kayaking is my personal favorite! This river boasts beautiful scenes winding through the Blue Ridge Mountains until it collides with the James River. With rapids running from Classes I–II+, there are some technical spots that are fun for more advanced water sportsman while not being too difficult for a beginner. The river is not very wide, which makes group trips all the more fun.
Things you should know:
- There are no designated parking lots, so watch for private property signs as you find a place to park.
- Make sure you have a shuttle ready to pick you up or drop you off. It is important to think through those logistics with the people in your groups.
- Please be sure to check local water levels if you intend to boat. The conditions of the river can change in less than 24 hours, so always be sure to check first.
- Make sure to purchase the proper fishing licenses for boating or fishing.
High Knob Tower
Located in George Washington National Forest, this fire tower is one of only three fire towers in GWNF and makes for the ultimate picnic views. A 2-mile hike up the Shenandoah Mountain leads to the base of the fire tower. This is a pretty simple trip, but the views are unmatched. If you can, try to go on a weekday when it is not as busy. Take a friend and have one of the prettiest picnics you will ever have! You will not regret it.
Make sure to remember:
- Do not play around at the top of the tower. While it is has rails and safety measures, it is important to watch your steps and use caution.
- If it is busy, please be respectful of other people and the amount of time you may spend at the top.
- Sunsets and sunrises are absolutely beautiful, but be sure to remember your headlamps to ensure a safe trip in or out in the dark.
No matter where you choose to adventure this summer, remember to research each location and have a plan. We hope you try something new and if you decide to take any of these trips, let us know at email@example.com! We love to hear about your stories.
April 15, 2022
Written by John Bobe, Lifeguard
Safety — when it comes to pools, lakes, beaches or any body of water — is something everyone can and should pay attention too. But how does one stay safe in an atmosphere where there are potential dangers like drowning, slippery surfaces, and even harmful chemicals? Thankfully, there are usually lifeguards in these areas to help keep people safe. However, it is always important for each person to act responsible for the safety of themselves and the people around them. As warmer weather is on the horizon, I wanted to share some tips on what you can do to stay safe, as well as how to react if a dangerous situation were to arise.
How to Avoid the Danger
As a lifeguard we are trained in water rescues and first aid, and we are also trained in preventative measures that we or patrons can take to prevent injuries or drowning. Continue reading for insider info on the tools of the water safety trade.
First, make sure you pay attention to the depth of the pool, especially if you don’t know how to swim or aren’t a very skilled swimmer. Sometimes if we are sitting on the edge of the pool or wading in the water and not paying attention, it’s easier to get caught in a dangerous situation where drowning could occur.
Next, you can maximize your safety by swimming with a buddy. If something were to happen, you or your buddy can notice and quickly help or get help, which may save a life.
How to Save a life
Unfortunately, no matter how safe you try to be, accidents and injuries can still occur. When the worst happens, there is no guarantee that a lifeguard will be there right away to help.
No matter how scary the situation, its incredibly important to stay calm. Panicking never helps and can even lead to more accidents and injuries. If you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation, be a calming presence. This will help everyone to remain calm and work together toward a solution.
To give a practical example, pretend you are at the pool and see someone drowning near the edge of the pool, but there is no lifeguard on duty to save them. Even without training, you can save them as long as you remain calm and use the right approach. Jumping in the pool to save them is not a smart idea without any training, however anyone can kneel at the edge of the pool and offer a helping hand to get that victim to safety.
I hope these tips are helpful and that you keep them in mind next time you go for a swim! Learn more about Campus Recreation’s aquatics facility and programming at Liberty.edu/CampusRec/Aquatics.
April 1, 2022
Written by Noah Trent, Montview Recreation Manager
The Montview Game Room sits on the second floor of Montview Student Union, directly over “Hey Cow!”. It’s one of the few locations on Main Campus where you can relax and enjoy recreational activities provided by Liberty University. This blog will give you a quick rundown of what the Montview Game Room has to offer.
My Personal Experiences
One of my main hobbies since elementary school has been gaming. I’ve played pretty much every genre of game out there, and while I’ve not liked them all, they’ve always provided a way for me to relax and recharge after a stressful day. I’ve spent many hours in the Game Room enjoying the games and challenging random people to different games, both on a screen and off. The Game Room is a great place to meet people and unwind after or during a long day. I’ve made many friends in the Game Room and even met my girlfriend there.
What the Game Room Offers
First and foremost, the Game Room has a wide variety of things to offer. For our gamers, we have two PlayStation 4 consoles, two Xbox One consoles, a Nintendo Switch, and a couple of NES and SNES consoles for a throwback to the early days of gaming. Each console has a wide selection of games that is consistently being updated, thanks to suggestions from students and employees that are familiar with the gaming community. If you’re not interested in video games, we have four Billiards Tables, three Ping-Pong Tables, a Foosball Table, Air Hockey, and many different board games that you can check out and play with your friends.
The Benefits of the Game Room
Still want to learn more? Visit our website and click on “virtual tour” to see the facility!
March 18, 2022
Written by Kylie Tidmore, Rock Wall Manager
Six years ago, I began climbing. I clung to the rock, struck with new anxiety, breathing heavily — my mind is racing trying to figure out the puzzle before me before my body gives out. My toes edged higher and higher on tiny holds as my hands sunk into white-coated pockets. The higher I climbed, the better I felt. Climbing centered me. It allowed my brain and my body to work together in an all-consuming and focusing way that grounded me.
Six years ago, I walked into an indoor climbing gym for the first time and was overwhelmed by colorful rocks, rope, tape, and puzzles. This was it for me; the beginning of a grand romance–love at first sight–if you will. Climbing became my safe haven. It became a way to push myself when I felt mentally blocked. It became a release and a distraction from anxiety and fear. I climbed for 3 hours the day I graduated high school in order to distract myself from the life change happening later that day, and I climbed after getting in the worst fight with my best friend (and sent my first v5).
So, what’s the appeal of climbing?
If you are someone who has never experienced the sport, I hope that I can do it even a bit of justice in the following paragraphs. I also hope that you will give it a chance in real life as well.
To start, rock climbing is physical. It’s a unique workout that is dynamic, widely varied, and always changing.
Rock climbing is also mental; it’s a puzzle that requires a specific solution. While climbing does require physical strength, it also requires mental tact—the ability to problem solve and figure out a way to make the route work for you.
For example, I am far from the strongest climber at the gym, but what I lack in brute strength I make up in my ability to creatively use my body to make sets work in my favor. In climbing, you fail a lot. Climbing is not really a sport someone can try for the first time and be shockingly good at. It requires a keen sense of body awareness as well as development of specific muscles and tendons that aren’t really used for other activities. Climbing takes work and perseverance. Failure in this sport is a big part of success, which will inevitably come through hard work.
Community & Camaraderie. Aside from all of the individualistic benefits to climbing, I’m willing to bet that 99% of climbers will agree that the best part of the sport is the community and camaraderie that takes place in a climbing gym. Climbing is a good way to make friends from all parts of Liberty’s campus and get acquainted with people you might never meet otherwise. In my almost four years working at the LaHaye Rock Wall, I am certain I have met at least one person in every school/department and have learned so much about different majors and fields of study through it. I have made some of my best friends through climbing and know that as long as I continue this social sport, I will always have a group of people to practice it with.
What are you waiting for?
If you are looking for a new hobby this year, I implore you to come to the LaHaye Rock Wall and give climbing a go. It will stretch you mentally and physically, and will leave you feeling encouraged by a new community of people.
March 11, 2022
Written by Abbey Marrin, Event Manager
Dress code seems to be a controversial topic at Liberty University. In today’s culture, times are changing, and modesty can be seen as subjective. The Liberty Way is updated every now and then, so it can be hard for students to understand why the dress code can’t be more lenient. As a girl who both is asked to enforce dress code but also works out at LaHaye Rec & Fit, I have my own thoughts on the topic of dress code that I wanted to share below.
The Changing Fitness Industry
The fitness industry is changing drastically. I would say that the gym is one of the biggest places for trendsetting. So many brands are changing the colors and cuts of their collections. The gym used to be for jocks and meatheads — a place full of guys in cutoffs and shorts. Women would join group exercise classes rocking leggings and bodysuits that covered their whole body. Now, the trends seem to be cutting off more and more clothing. For example, Gymshark, Halara, and others sell athletic wear that is cropped and form fitting. I believe this change in the athletics industry comes from the body positivity movement and the empowerment of women. But, in the midst of the trendy athletic wear movement, regardless of where you choose to workout, the facility will have a posted list of dress code policies.
Women are finally finding their place in the gym and feeling comfortable working out around men. When I was in high school, my softball team would work out together in the mornings before class because we hated sharing the gym with the baseball and lacrosse team in the afternoons. After recently visiting my coaches, I learned that the team actually enjoys working out with the baseball team now because they encourage and compete with each other. If the guys can work out whenever and however they want to, in whatever they want, why can’t the girls?
I Know What I Signed Up For
Transferring to Liberty, there was a lot I had to get used to. Attending Convocation when I had homework and studying to do felt stressful at times, but I was required to go. So, I did. Turning 21 years old and following a curfew wasn’t my favorite thing, but I did it because I agreed to it when I committed to Liberty and moved onto campus. Following rules and abiding to policies isn’t always fun and glamorous, but that’s life. One of my favorite verses is 1 Corinthians 10:23-24, and it says, “’All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” Through interning at a beach camp and working for Campus Recreation, I’ve learned that it is important to show reverence to the Lord in everything I do. I am not edifying my brothers and sisters in Christ when I am breaking dress code. Plus, using equipment or laying on mats with most of my skin touching just feels dirty and gross. I’d rather be comfortable than trendy.
I think the biggest thing I’ve noticed as a student and employee who spends a lot of time at LaHaye Rec & Fit is the way students speak to each other and to staff. As a staff member, we have to enforce dress code in the same way RAs have to. However, sometimes the gym staff gets spoken to disrespectfully and yelled at by students. As a student, we are called to follow policies set by the university and handle issues in a respectful manner. If you wouldn’t yell or curse at your RA, why are you acting that way toward a campus facility employee? Showing up to the gym in proper clothing, working out, and leaving feeling better about yourself is empowering! Our goal at Campus Recreation is to provide safe environments for our members and that includes monitoring that appropriate attire is worn in our facilities.
If you have questions or concerns about the LaHaye Rec & Fit dress code policies, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 3, 2022
Written by John Nelson, Former Range Safety Officer
Many individuals today find themselves going through the process to acquire the necessary permits and equipment to carry a concealed firearm throughout their day-to-day lives. A common tendency is to focus heavily on which firearm is “best” for these purposes, and another critical piece of equipment, the holster, often goes overlooked. Far from being a trivial afterthought, the holster is a piece of gear essential for successful concealment and comfortable carriage of a firearm. This article will cover a number of factors to consider when shopping in the market to aid in finding the best solution to your individual needs!
Holster material is an excellent first criteria to examine. Common options on the market today include Kydex plastic, leather, flexible nylon, and “hybrid” options of the previous materials. There are many good options in existence today, but any holster selected should: be made for your specific firearm (not for all firearms of a certain size), “seal” the trigger guard on all sides so no foreign objects can inadvertently reach and pull the trigger while the firearm is holstered, and offer some degree of positive retention to a holstered gun.
Means of Attachment
The means of attachment from the holster to the clothing of the person carrying it is another important item to consider. First off, your gun should somehow be connected to your person. Carrying your firearm in a bag, purse, or another article not secured to you is something we do not recommend; this is how many guns are inadvertently left behind or otherwise irresponsibly left unsecured where anyone could access it. Common options include both plastic and metal clips, closed belt loops, “pull-the-dot” nylon belt loops, and a myriad of other options. Whatever you decide, keep in mind that the easier it is for a holster to be taken on and off throughout the day the easier it is for the holstered firearm to accidentally detach itself from your person. Try doing some jumping jacks, jog in place, or other light to moderate exercise and make sure the gun and holster remain secure.
Style of Holster
The specific style of the holster, meaning where the firearm is built to best carry on your body, should also be considered. Wherever you decide you would like to conceal your firearm, find a holster specifically tailored to that location. A holster that claims to be for appendix and inside-the-waistband (IWB) carry will likely be mediocre at both.
Quality of Holster
Last, and perhaps most important, is quality. Whatever options you determine best suit your needs from the above elements, be sure to buy quality equipment. Choosing a holster is not where you should seek to save a few bucks or cut corners — it is another critical piece of equipment you should deliberately budget for, making your time carrying as safe, comfortable, and effective as possible.
February 18, 2022
Written by Sid Williamson, Hydaway Outdoor Center Manager
During the past year, I have had the privilege of seeing multiple national parks on separate occasions. The first trip was out West back in the spring with one of my friends, Abby. The second trip involved visiting Alaska on a mission trip with my small group leaders. The last trip was spent in the Smokies during Thanksgiving Break with two of my friends. I’ve dreamed of visiting national parks since I was a child, so it was cool to see how the Lord has allowed that desire to come true, especially in this past year. It’s also neat to see how the Lord has provided me with educational development through my job at Hydaway Outdoor Center; I have learned the importance of Leave-No-Trace Principles, which were a large factor in all the national parks I visited. These seven principles include thoroughly planning out your trip, traveling and camping on durable surfaces, properly disposing of waste, leaving what you find, respecting wildlife, minimizing the impacts of campfires, and being mindful of others.
Abby and I decided on flying into Las Vegas, picking up a rental car, and venturing out to the Grand Canyon for the first stop on our trip. We got to the Grand Canyon during sunset on Resurrection Sunday, camped in Mather Campground on the South Rim of the park, and woke up to watch the sunrise before heading to hike Devil’s Bridge in Sedona. The next night we stayed in Glen Canyon National Rec Area on a beach area in the canyon. Due to sand pelting us and high winds causing our tent poles to bend, we made a run for our car in the middle of the night. It proved to be a good move because it was warmer and had a much better view of the stars. A coworker had told me about kayaking to a place called Antelope Canyon, where you can eventually get out of your kayak and walk through the canyon, so we spent a day doing that before heading to Horseshoe Bend. Our last stop on our trip was spent hiking in Zion National Park. We did several hikes, but two of our favorites were Observation Point, which gave a bird’s eye view of the park, and The Narrows, which has hikers travel through the Virgin River the entire hike.
My small group leaders, Tom and Becky, take a trip to Alaska every summer to help teach at several different camps. They invited me to go along with them about a month before they were leaving. Looking back, it’s very neat to see how the Lord provided financially for me to go in such short notice. While in Alaska, I got to visit a village called Port Alsworth, which is located in Lake Clark National Park. If you ever want to visit Lake Clark, you can only access the park by bush plane. In Lake Clark, I hiked Tanalian Falls, which is about an 8-mile roundtrip hike that leads to an astonishing waterfall. I never got to visit Denali National Park, but I did see Mount McKinley (or Mount Denali as the natives call it) from about 200 miles away. The mountain stands at over 20,300 feet tall and is known as the tallest mountain in North America, so it’s understandable why it can be seen from so far away.
North Carolina and Tennessee
My roommate, Hannah, and friend, Abby, went with me to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We visited an overlook spot in the park called Clingman’s Dome which is situated right along the Tennessee and North Carolina border. From the dome, you can see seven different states including Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Alabama. Another stop we made on our trip was to Mount Mitchell, which is the tallest point on this side of the Mississippi River standing at 6,684 feet.
8 Takeaways and Tips for Traveling
Based on my experience traveling, here are 8 takeaways that I recommend implementing before your next adventure:
- When you look at the weather for your trip, you should look at both the daytime temperature and the nighttime temperature. Also, be mindful of the wind speed. Abby and I forgot to consider that the desert is much colder at night than during the day, and we also weren’t prepared for the amount of wind we had during our kayaking trip. The wind doubled the amount of time we were on the water and completely wore us out.
- Bring lots of water. Since it’s common to become dehydrated in the desert, we made sure to pack our 2-liter water bladders in our hiking bags.
- Pack moisture-wicking clothing that can be layered, so you have some options depending on the temperature.
- Bring change. In order to use showers and laundry in national parks, you need coins.
- PLAN! Make a budget and plan out your itinerary before going on your trip.
- Travel and hike with at least one other person.
- Share your trip itinerary with family or friends and check in with them whenever possible.
- Set aside money for firewood. Depending on the campground, you either have to buy their firewood or scavenge for downed wood on their land.
These are just a few tips I’ve learned from my experiences this past year. My main advice is to take opportunities to visit as many outdoor places as possible! If you are just getting into camping, plan to camp out at Hydaway! We offer camping on Friday or Saturday nights throughout the semester and provide rental gear if needed. Ready to go off-site? Students are able to rent our gear for off-site adventures at a low cost! Learn more at Liberty.edu/Hydaway.
February 4, 2022
Written by Amber Gayheart, Programming Coordinator
When you look at a field filled with horses in the middle of winter, you might notice that some horses are wearing blankets. You may also notice that other horses are not wearing these blankets. At Liberty Mountain Equestrian Center, we have a wide variety of horses with different blanketing needs. Let’s find out the difference and why a horse would need to wear a blanket vs why they wouldn’t.
A Horse’s Natural Coat
Horses are designed to be able to regulate their body temperature in cold and hot weather. In the winter, a horse has the ability to make itself warmer by growing out a fluffy coat. The longer the horse’s hair is, the easier it is for the horse to hold heat between its fur and its skin. Another unique quality that horses have that helps them to stay warm is they huddle together in order to share body heat. Horses are herd animals and, with that, they can share not only body heat but also protection from the elements (rain, wind, predators, etc.).
There are more than a few reasons why we would need to blanket a horse when it is cold outside. Let’s talk about a couple of those reasons:
For performance horses, like many of the horses we have at the Equestrian Center, an extremely long coat of fur makes the horse more susceptible to sweating when they are in a lesson or practice. To remedy this, we often body clip our horses or shave their hair coat to make them cooler when they are being ridden. When horses lose their hair coat it is harder for them to keep warm on their own. This is where a blanket can help regulate their body heat! The blanket will trap the heat between the horse’s hair and their skin, acting as a barrier for their natural body heat.
Rain or Snow
Another reason that a horse may need to be blanketed is rain or snow. When a horse’s fur gets wet it makes it very hard for the horse to keep its body heat up. When we put a blanket on a horse, it helps keep the rain from permeating the fur and compromising the natural heat barrier. PS – always make sure the blanket is waterproof!
One other natural factor that would compromise the horse’s ability to keep warm is a strong wind. Mixing wind with cold temperatures can make it really hard for a horse to stay warm. If you have ever worn a sweater on a cold, blustery day you may know this feeling well. It is hard to combat cold temperatures and wind at the same time
Different Types of Blankets
In the same way that we, as humans, have different jackets that we wear in different weather, horses have the same type of wardrobe. Let’s go over some of the different blankets!
The first is a waterproof sheet. A sheet usually has no filling and is a good option for a horse with a medium-length coat — especially if there is rain in the forecast. The next is a medium-weight blanket. This just means that there is filling, much like the filling you would find in a jacket for people, on the inside of the blanket making it a bit warmer than a sheet. The last blanket is a heavyweight. This is good for shaved horses because it has more filling and helps the horse stay toasty warm.
While there are many different reasons why horse owners would blanket their horses in the winter, these are just a couple of reasons why you might see a horse with a blanket on at the Equestrian Center. If you have any questions about horse blanketing during the winter months, come visit us at the Liberty Mountain Equestrian Center!