If you have a particularly buzzy novice who needs a few miles on the clock, or you’ve decided winter working hunter shows are just what you need to get prepared for next season’s bigger tracks, then a trip to your local equestrian centre’s winter fixture is definitely on the cards.
But don’t let seasonal problems stand in your way. Brave the cold and give yourself the best chance of bagging the top spot with these winter showing life hacks.
1. Plait up the night before
A 5am start on a bitter winter’s morning and attempting to fix your hunter’s mane with icy fingers is the stuff of nightmares. So be prepared, dig out your horse’s hood, invest in some rub-proof hairspray (if this even exists) and put your plaits in the night, or even afternoon, before.
The purse strings are tight at this time of year, so save some money during these dark times by entering before the show to get some discount. Check out equoevents.com to see what shows are on offer in your area.
3. Keep it clean
Grey coat? Cover it. White socks? Wrap them. If it can be stained, marked or vandalised in any way, remember that prevention is better than cure. Turnout rugs are a great way of keeping light coloured horses both warm and clean in cold weather, and turnout boots can help keep white legs dirt, and mud fever, free.
4. Tune the wagon radio
While family and friends love the thought of helping you out during the summer season (everyone wants to be your groom if it means a free ticket to the county show), finding winter showing buddies can be more of a challenge. So make sure your lorry radio is ready to go before you hit the road. Who needs a snoring passenger when you’ve got Radio 2’s Saturday morning bangers on hand to keep you company?
5. Stock up on supplies
Tea bags, cereal bars and cup-a-soups are all staples of the winter show diet plan. Also ensure you have a fully functioning kettle and gas bottle before you leave the yard.
Even if you’ve decided against a full clip this winter, giving heads, ears and whiskers a routine MOT with the clippers can make the whole picture look a lot neater in the ring.
7. Turnout on the cheap
Save your expensive sprays and products for the summer sunshine by being savy with turnout buys this winter. Using white baby powder can be a great alternative to white paste (which will get extra claggy if wet) and shop bought de-tangler is perfect for manes and tails. Baby wipes will also become your best friend.
8. Pack spares
Bringing an extra pair of gloves and jodhpurs can ensure you’re prepared when a torrential downpour hits. You don’t want to be caught out if you win your class in a rainstorm and have to sport see-through soggy kecks in the championship. Very elegant.
9. Remember why you’re doing it
Just think, practice makes perfect. With a few winter outings in the bag, you’ll be ready to rock and roll by the time show season hits. So wrap up warm and hit the road…
For all the latest showing news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday