7 reasons to love winter (plus a few reasons not to!)

  • With many of us struggling with the winter weather, H&H shares some reminders of why owning horses during the winter is great

    We love winter because…

    1. It’s an ideal time to focus on training or getting to know a new horse. Even if you can’t ride, time spent hanging out or learning new exercises and techniques with your horse on the ground can pay back in spades when you get back in the saddle. And if you’re lucky enough to have facilities that mean you can ride, you can work on improving your horse’s skills and techniques ready for the forthcoming competition season.

    2. There are few things better than a ride on a bright, sunny winter morning when you can see your breath… and while hacking in the wind and rain may make you question your sanity, returning home to a hot bath filled to the brim with bubbles makes it all worthwhile.

    3. There is immense satisfaction in seeing your freshly clipped horse tucking into his haynet while wrapped up in his rugs and standing in an immaculate deep bed. (It may not stay immaculate for long, but it’s nice while it lasts!)

    4. If you’re of the matchy-matchy fraternity and your horse is clipped, the addition of an exercise sheet gives you another opportunity to colour co-ordinate your and your horse’s outfits. And an excuse to shop too.

    5, Indoor showjumping and dressage shows mean you can still get out and compete (most of the time), plus you can treat yourself to a hot drink and cheesy chips while waiting between classes

    6. Or if you’re competing less during the winter, the money you’re saving can go towards this year’s entry fees, (if your horse isn’t eating his way through it, that is – and yes we mean that in the most literal sense).

    7. And of course winter is the time for hunting and jump racing. Two great exhilarating equestrian sports that everyone can enjoy either as a participant or a spectator.

    But we have to admit we don’t enjoy…

    The mud: on horses, on rugs, on everything, on you. And that’s before we get started on the topic of mud fever… It’s the bane of many a horse owner’s life during the wet winter months.

    Even worse than the mud is the snow and ice, which can bring hunting, jump racing, indoor competitions and even hacking to a standstill for weeks on end.

    Ice is also responsible for causing us to burn our skin when breaking and removing ice from water buckets/troughs. Useful tip: don’t use bare hands or rubber gloves (they are bound to have a hole in). Carefully break the ice with a large hammer, then use a colander to scoop the ice out but leave the water behind.

    And frozen fingers make simple tasks like tacking up difficult, while for those who ride in double reins, distinguishing the snaffle from the curb becomes extra challenging.

    Clearing snow from outside your horse’s stable and across the yard, so it doesn’t turn into an ice rink leaving your horse stable-bound for days on end, is another task we could do without. Useful tip: make sure you’ve stocked up on rock salt before the weather changes. Or if you do get caught out, muck out directly on to the yard to give horses grip, but this does make a big mess that needs cleaning up later.

    • What are your favourite things and pet hates about having horses during the winter months? Let us know at hhletters@futurenet.com, including your name, nearest town and county, for the chance to have your thoughts published in a future edition of Horse & Hound magazine

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