Aaah, spring is in the air! Buds are blooming in the hedgerows, the fields are turning from boring brown to a gorgeous green, and it even looks as if your usual hacking routes might be drying up a bit, meaning you’re not covered in mud from head to toe whenever you ride back to the yard.
But although spring is a blessed relief after months of relentlessly grim weather, it brings with it a few special horsey challenges, too. These, for starters…
1. It’s moulting time
Every time you climb off your beloved beast after a schooling session, you find you have hairier legs than a Yeti. The good news is, it’s his hair, not yours. The bad news is, that stuff isn’t going to come off your breeches no matter how many times you stick them through the washing machine. The owners of greys, in particular, are most vulnerable at this time of year.
2. Swallow poo everywhere
Those cute little swallows, swooping about making a nest out of mud (nice) right over your horse’s stall, are absolutely adorable — until you get to the yard in the morning to find your horse’s rugs are covered in white splatty poo. And worse, one of their babies has fallen out of the nest and your horse has stood on it. Nature is a cruel mistress.
3. Pigeons mating all over the place
It’s a well-known fact that pigeons are sex-mad. Your yard is their version of Tinder, and the boy ones are getting under your horse’s feet doing that thing where they puff out their chest and coo while walking round in circles round the girl pigeons. They’re so preoccupied, you practically trip over them every time you walk out of the tackroom… But at least when they’re doing that, they’re not stealing your horse’s hay to make nests, and dropping it all over the yard. Yet.
4. The fearsome daffodil
You’re plodding down your usual hacking route, admiring the budding trees and hedges — when all of a sudden your horse spooks and shoots forwards, nearly catapulting you out of the side door. Oh my god, you think, what terrible monster has he seen this time? Could it be a tiger — or a pheasant, they can be quite scary when they do that agonised screeching noise of theirs? Nope, it’s a daffodil. Your horse is still snorting as you prance away from this terrifying object, waving menacingly (as far as he’s concerned) in the breeze.
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5. The spring grass
Talking of spooky horses, most of them are a bit snorty and prancy at this time of year, and of course we have the spring grass to thank for that. The first rich blades are poking their way through the soil, blowing your horse’s mind. The good news is that he’s already regained that weight that dropped off over winter — in a week. This time next week, it’ll be diet time again…
6. Nothing fits any more
The saddle that was a perfect fit on your noble steed only last week now appears to belong to a completely different horse. Is this because he’s lost weight? Gained weight? Improved muscle tone? You literally have no idea, but even his rugs look weird on him now. What’s going on?