We breathe a sigh of relief when we wake up and realise rain isn't pounding against our windows — but then we remember frost has its own problems too...
1. Frozen hosepipes
You turn the hose on to fill up your water bucket. Nothing happens. You shake it. It’s a frozen coil, like a dead snake with rigor mortis. You pull off the hose and try the tap. Nope. And the tap in the other barn. Still nothing. It’s off up the field to the trough you go then. Which brings us to…
2. Frozen troughs
Smashing the ice on a frozen trough can be quite satisfying, actually. Keep a lump hammer handy to break the ice, then use a strong plastic colander to fish it out and you won’t end up with freezing cold hands either. You’ll need those hands to lug that heavy, full water bucket all the way back to the yard.
3. Falling over during turnout/bring in
The squelchy bit by the gate that was just mud last time you looked is now as slippery as an ice rink — but even Torville and Dean couldn’t style out that nosedive you just pulled. Never mind, you’ll recover from being winded soon — provided your horse doesn’t tread on you first.
Why oh why did you leave plaiting until the very last minute before loading the horses up? It’s still minus two degrees, and your fingers are so numb you’re tempted just to hog him and have done with it.
5. Solid schools
Well, if it’s too icy out there to hack, you may as well take him into the school — oh no, that’s frozen solid too. Isn’t it supposed to be ‘all weather’? You can attempt to ‘harrow’ it using a rake, if you like. It won’t work, as it’s rock hard, but bashing angrily at it might work off some of your frustration at not being able to ride. Maybe.
6. Freezing cold rugs
Your horse makes his feelings plain when you swap his nice warm stable rug for a so-cold-it’s-actually-gone-a-bit-hard turnout rug. You are most definitely off his Christmas card list, and you’re probably not getting a Valentine’s card from him, either.
7. Salt, salt everywhere
What fun it is, shaking salt around the yard so you don’t skid over in the black icy bit where the hose usually leaks a bit and break every bone in your body. How come your yard actually seems to be colder than the surrounding countryside anyway? Does it have its own micro-climate?