6 things all riders will experience when the clocks go back

  • We’re making our way into the British winter and if you’re a normal citizen, that might mean indulging in cosy nights by the fire, a fashionable cold weather wardrobe and copious amounts of festive Starbucks coffee (NB: other brands are available, Ed). But if you’ve got a horse (or seven), the cold months require at least the the same amount of dedicated horsing hours as during the summer, if not more.

    Even though you said in July, “I’ll be ready this year”, here are six things we always forget happen during winter at the yard…

    1. The darkness

    Gone are the days of 6pm hacks or evening lessons. If you want to get your training in this winter so you don’t fall behind come next season, that means early starts catching the morning rays before work. At present, it gets light at around 7am so you need to be tacked up and ready to hit the road or arena early doors if you also need to be ready to start work at 9am. I’m tired already…

    2. The cold

    No matter how many years you muck out in winter, the first morning on the yard when it’s below freezing will still knock you for six. You still haven’t found the best winter yard gloves to see you through the next six months and you’ll spend the same part of the year up at night worrying if you’ve aptly rugged your horse for the protection against the elements. He’ll probably be fine, but your frozen fingers probably won’t.

    Woof Wear Winter Yard Gloves | amazon.co.uk
    These waterproof gloves have 80g insulation, extra-long cuffs and a durable palm with silicone print for good grip.

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    Roeckl Waregem Winter Gloves | amazon.co.uk
    Designed to fit like a second skin, these gloves have a waterproof and breathable membrane that prevents your hands becoming cold, plus touchscreen-compatible thumb and index fingers.

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    3. The mud

    Snow/ice/sleet/rain + grass = a muddy disaster. Hosing and drying legs is a foreign concept in the summer, but come winter most field outings will conclude in a dramatic battle with a frozen hose pipe and dancing legs. While you promise this year you’re going to let your horse go au naturel, turnout boots and mudguard creams may become weekly purchases in the attempt to protect against the ravages of the dreaded brown stuff.

    Woof Wear Mud Fever Boots | amazon.co.uk
    These waterproof and breathable boots create a barrier to mud from below the knee to the base of the heel. They also have a close-fitting hoof capsule with Kevlar reinforced heel protection.

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    NAF Mud Gard Barrier Cream | amazon.co.uk
    This nourishing barrier cream protect your horse’s skin when exposed to the wet and mud. It contains MSM to support healthy skin and hair growth, and rosemary to soothe sore areas.

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    4. The lack of human contact

    Your other half will have probably forgotten what you look like by Christmas, given the creature-like habits you develop during winter. Up before sunrise and home well after darkness, you become an elusive nocturnal being seen slopping around in the murky night. At least you have your like-minded yard buddies to keep you (relatively) sane.

    5. The winter fixtures

    If your horse has been hitting the circuit in one discipline over the summer, it can be fun to mix up their winter outings. Fun being the operative word. Hunting and arena eventing are popular choices for many, but early motivation may be quick to fade when you realise you haven’t jumped a cross pole in months and have forgotten how see a stride…

    6. The festivities

    Halloween, bonfire night, Christmas followed by New Year; winter time is filled with multiple celebrations. But for the horse owner — while decorating stables and tuning into Christmas songs on the yard radio are absolute musts — the festive period brings with it an array of stresses for both horse and human, including fireworks and your farrier going AWOL for a few weeks. Not to mention the cash flow dilemmas.

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