Dressage rider and trainer Hannah Biggs shares her secrets for managing her horses as the temperatures drop

1. Take a break

“Depending on the year’s show schedule, I like to give the horses a couple of easy weeks at some point during the winter,” says Hannah. “This just means a break from intensive training – they will still keep ticking over, hacking, ground work, even some fun pole and jumping work.”

2. Have long term goals

“The dressage season keeps going all year round, so as soon as the summer national championships are done, we look forwards to qualifying for the winter championships in six months time,” says Hannah. “I have long term goals and programmes for the horses, which do have to be a little flexible during the winter.”

3. Work around the weather

“For those of us not blessed with an indoor school, we do have to work around the weather a bit,” she says. “Even on icy days, a lot of constructive work can be done on improvements to the walk and halt.”

4. Allow extra time for warming up

“The horses will need extra time to warm up their muscles properly on cold days and plenty of time to walk off and cool down slowly, so make sure you plan this into your daily schedule,” she says.

5. Treat yourself

And Hannah’s parting tip? “I use Little Hotties, the adhesive toe warmers, in my boots to save my feet from nasty chilblains.”

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Who is Hannah Biggs?

Hannah is a 38-year-old international grand prix dressage rider and trainer. She has had success both at home and abroad and has competed at some of the highest profile events around the world. Running a small string of horses from her home in the South West, Hannah has also built a reputation as a leading dressage trainer on the global stage, training riders in Moscow, Oslo and Hong Kong.

Don’t miss this week’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine with our masterclass with Hannah Biggs, where she takes us through the three steps she uses to improve the rein-back — and tells us the pitfalls to avoid along the way