Pot Noodles, tennis balls in troughs and other winter survival tips

  • Top riders and H&H readers share their tips for coping through the winter months — from exercising horses in the morning to investing in a turnout rug with a neck hood

    • “If you have a kettle in your tack room, keep some Pot Noodles or other warming instant snacks to hand, in case you are delayed and have to stay around longer than anticipated.”Anne Chiverton, Reading, Berkshire
    • “I always try to exercise my horse in the mornings during winter. If you put off your ride until the evening, the weather often takes a turn for the worse and you end up not going out at all.” Helen Trivett, Atherstone, Warwickshire
    • “If your horse feels the cold in winter, bandage his legs at night. We tend to remember to put on warm rugs, but often overlook the big difference that bandages can make when it’s chilly.” Julian Marczak, Middlesex
    • “I don’t use leg straps on turnout rugs, which I find are very fiddly to fasten, especially with cold fingers. I use one of the straps as a fillet string, which keeps the rug in place when our horses are out during the day. The other leg strap is removed and used as a quick tie-up for the horses. One end is tied to a piece of string and the other clips straight onto the headcollars when we want to tie up the horses to muck out or to top up their hay.” Sue Frank, Worcestershire
    • “If you have more than one gateway to a paddock, rotate the one you use to avoid cutting up the ground and causing deep mud.”Cheney Gardner, Newbury, Berkshire
    • “I find that wet turnout rugs (wet on the outside, not the inside) dry best if they’re left on the horse in the stable.This only really applies to modern, breathable, well-fitting rugs. If they’re taken off when wet, any damp seems to seep to the inside. Because the rug lining is dry, the horse stays snug and warm and it saves on space, too.” Sue Frank, Worcestershire
    • “If you have a veteran, keeping him warm is a priority. As soon as the weather starts to get a bit nippy, an older horse is in danger of losing condition, so you must get them rugged up as soon as possible.”Liz Sharp, Granthan, Lincolnshire
    • “Pay special attention to horses’ heels over the winter. Keep them clean and always dry them off well to avoid mud fever.”Jeanette Brakewell, event rider
    • “Before clipping, make sure the horse’s coat is clean, well-brushed and not matted, as this will blunt the clipper blades very quickly.” Lynn Russell, show rider and producer
    • “The most important thing in winter is to keep your horse warm. Turnout rugs with neck hoods are brilliant.”Lucinda Green, event rider and commentator
    • “I’ve invested in a storage heater for my tack room. It’s cheap to run and keeps everything aired. If I put a wet rug out to dry in the evening, it’s always as dry as a bone in the morning. My tack room is a great place to retreat to when the whether is cold, wet and miserable.”Helen Trivett, Atherstone, Warwickshire
    • “After working your horse in the winter, ensure he is rugged up as quickly as possible to avoid him getting a chill.” Julian Marczak, Middlesex
    • “I don’t believe in washing off a muddy horse. I put a layer of straw under a Thermatex or wicking rug and bandage straw around the legs, then brush off the mud when it’s dry.”Sally-Ann Smart, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire
    • “Pop a tennis ball or a football into troughs and water buckets to prevent them icing over. Alternatively, you can keep a hammer handy so you can break the ice if the water freezes.”Mark Heath, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
    • “Put some road salt down on concrete areas to avoid horses and owners slipping and injuring themselves when it gets icy. Wash off hooves regularly, or the salt will dry them out.”Anne Chiverton, Reading, Berkshire
    • “My grandfather always believedthat adding half a teaspoon of powdered mustard to each feed would ward off equine coughs and colds. I still do this every winter and it seems to work.” Sally-Ann Smart, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire
    • “Before the wet weather takes a hold, we put stones down in our gateways to avoid them becoming muddied and boggy. It’s much better to take preventive action rather than to struggle through deep mud.” Seema Burford, Gloucestershire
    • “Hang wet outdoor rugs across a corner to allow air to circulate front and back. Or hang over a pole, lining side uppermost, so the weight of the water on the outside doesn’t drain through to the lining overnight.”Vicki Eeles, Westbury-on-Severn, Gloucestershire
    • “Spread old bedding in field gateways when the ground starts to churn up – it will absorb some of the wet and stop the ground getting muddy. I’ve found that shavings work best.”Robyn Black, Burnham, Buckinghamshire
    • “When mucking out in the mornings, put hay and water in the stable ready for later, so your horse can come straight into his box in the evening and not have to hang around in the cold.”Vicki Eeles, Westbury-on-Severn, Gloucestershire

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    • “I believe in keeping warm and dry in winter. On really cold days, or when clipping, I wear ski salopettes. They’re not glamorous but they keep you warm. Mine are ex-rental from a ski hire shop.” Sue Frank, Worcestershire
    • “Even if you only drive a short distance to the yard, keep a spade in the boot to spread gravel on an icy road or dig yourself out of deep snow. It’s also wise to carry a warm blanket and a torch – with batteries that work – in case you break down in the cold weather.” Jenny Smithers, Chesterfield, Derbyshire
    • “If it’s frosty, de-ice the steps and top surface of your mounting block so you don’t slip and frighten your horse.”Mary Harris, Inkberrow, Worcestershire

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