With many of us struggling with the winter weather, H&H gives some reminders of why owning horses during the winter is great (honestly it really is!)
We love winter because…
1. It’s an ideal time to focus on training or getting to know a new horse. You can work on those areas that need improving so you can be really competitive next year. And the money you save on competing can go towards next year’s entry fees. Win, win!
2. 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. If you’re of the matchy-matchy fraternity, the addition of an exercise sheet gives you another opportunity to colour co-ordinate you and your horse’s outfits. And an excuse to shop too.
4. There are few things better than a ride on a bright, sunny winter morning when you can see your breath…
5 … other than seeing your clipped horse tucking into his haynet while wrapped up toasty and warm in his rugs and standing in an immaculate deep bed (it may not stay immaculate for long, but it’s nice while it lasts!)
6. Indoor showjumping and dressage means 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.
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.
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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 metal colander to scoop the ice out but leave the water behind.
Clearing snow from outside your horse’s stable and across the yard, so it doesn’t turn into an ice rink leaving your horse’s 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. Alternatively muck out directly on to the yard to give horses grip, but this does make a big mess that needs cleaning up later.
Meanwhile 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.
What are your favourite (and not so good) things about winter? Let us know via the comments facility at the bottom of the page…