Winter in mid-Missouri can be slightly unpredictable. We will see several days in a row with 50-degree temperatures, then suddenly drop below freezing and see snow.  

child and adult with Christmas coloring pages | coyotehill.org

Equine Program Manager Rebecca Buchholz – known by Coyote Hill kids as “Miss Rebecca” – says the ever-changing Missouri weather means she has to stay on her toes. 

Luckily, Overton Arena stays pretty warm despite cold temperatures. 

“As long as the barn is shut up it actually stays pretty warm in here,” she said. “I check the waters more often and keep a diligent eye on our older horses that have a harder time self-insulating.” 

miniature horse with winter coat | coyotehill.org
Lizzy, wearing her winter parka

Miss Rebecca says God made horses amazing. When horses get their winter coat, the fur is very stiff and coarse, which helps horses to self-insulate. Their fur serves as a built-in parka.  

Children usually take notice of the horses’ winter look. 

“They call them Eskimo horses because that winter coat is very course, it’s very thick and the horses look fuzzier, puffier, like little Eskimos,” Miss Rebecca said. 

miniature horse in Overton Arena stall | coyotehill.org
Twinkie, an Overton Eskimo for the winter

When dreary winter days seem to drag on, horseback riding can be a good way to get children outside. However, Miss Rebecca says the choice to ride indoors or outdoors is up to each child.  

“A lot of where they ride has to do with the comfort level of the child,” she said. “Our indoor arena is substantially smaller than our outdoor arena.” 

A smaller space inside the barn can feel safer to a child than a more open, outdoor space, depending on confidence. 

Girl rides in Overton Arena with help from volunteer | coyotehill.org

Miss Rebecca says confidence is key when it comes to horsemanship. 

“The biggest obstacle in horseback riding is confidence,” she said. “They might be ready skill-wise to ride outside, but if they don’t  feel  ready, they’re not ready.” 

During the winter months, Miss Rebecca said the barn could always use more gloves. She tries to keep extra pairs available in case children forget or lose other pairs.  

To see a full “Needs List” for our equine program, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.

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