7 realities of being a horse rider in the UK

  • We horse riders are a tough breed, used to being out in all weathers — and as we live in the UK, that’s probably a good thing. Unless you’re lucky enough to have your own indoor school, then every rider quickly learns a series of coping mechanisms. Here’s what we’ve found…

    1. There’s a difference between waterproof and water-resistant, and it’s the difference between happiness and misery.

    2. Your ‘technical’ breeches may have cost a king’s ransom and left you living on toast and beans for a month, but they are worth it. No question.

    3. You evolve your own patented little tips and tricks, such as wearing two coats at once, wearing plastic bags between your boots and your socks to stop them filling with rainwater and wearing tights under your breeches.

    4. The moment you discovered the combination of ski socks and chemical foot warmer pads is still one of the happiest of your life, but you haven’t dared tell your husband that.

    5. You own 15 pairs of gloves and consider this to be a completely reasonable amount. Somehow, though, you still never seem to have the right pair with you for the weather conditions.

    6. You have a different definition of ‘raining’ to non-horsey people — slight drizzle doesn’t qualify, nor do showers. (You can’t really understand the idea that some people might be able to choose not to go out in the rain because it “messes their hair up”. You haven’t had a hairstyle since you were 13.) In the same way, you have a complicated definition of being ‘wet’, ranging from ‘lightly damp, didn’t really notice’, to ‘wet enough for rain to start going through your coat’ to ‘drowned rat’, which includes boots full of rain, water down the back of the neck and waterlogged tack.

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    7. All forms of equine exercise in poor weather are subject to a quick mental assessment for efficiency so that you can choose the one that’s least trouble. For example: “Hmm, if I ride for half an hour I’ll have to spent another half an hour cleaning my tack, but on the other hand if I lunge for 20 minutes in no exercise sheet he’ll take too long to dry out and I’ll have to come back later to rug.”

    8. Your horse has a wardrobe of outdoor rugs that would rival Imelda Marcos’ shoe collection, including shower rugs, medium weights, heavy weights, full neck rugs, half neck rugs, no-neck rugs and fly rugs. This is supposed to cover all eventualities that the UK weather might throw at you. It doesn’t.

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