We all know winter is coming in if we want to admit it or not, the question is what are we going to do about it to make it a touch easier, if possible. Being a horse owner with no facilities adds new challenges to the mix as there is no arena to ride in, no dry space to tack up in or bring the vet or farrier. Plus for the field foke who don’t have running water or even poorly protected pipes frozen water troughs are a nightmare.
So i give you my top 10 tips for surviving this winter with a touch of sanity left.1) Buy yourself a big flask, these are amazing for three reasons. You can bring yourself a nice cup of something warm to help fight of the cold. You will at some point possible get an abscess warm, clean water is sometimes needed and with no facilities your trusty flask to the rescue. OR if your a soft touch like me, when you give your horses their feed i mix it with warmer water so its not so much of a shock to their system.2) Waterproofs and wellies are a life savour and they never last long. You have two options cheap and cheerful and you will go through them like a rate of knots usually or expensive and you still still go through them speedy quick. Choose wisely!
3) Have spares, of as much as you can. Spare waterproofs for you and spare light weights for your horse. Light weight rugs seem to always go wimpy in the winter and fail on you at some point or another. Having a spare saves your horse being over rugged for the night or being naked for the night until you can go buy another.
4) Hi – Vis up! The nights are drawing in and you need to be seen out hacking. If you can a mixture of traditional Hi Vis and LEd lights are the best combination so if the objects coming towards you light has not hit your reflective clothing they can still see your flashing light.
5) I wear a Flashing arm band when im doing my horses in the dark. If that’s poo picking, waters or changing rugs. The horses will get use to it after a few goes so that’s no problem but it means if anything happens to you you can be found easier and generally sooner
6) Disposable gloves are a god send. WHen its really cold you need gloves on to keep your fingers from freezing to death but that means you have to take your glove of to pick up dirty feet, or smash water troughs. Disposable gloves is an easy and cheap way of making your fluffy warm gloves waterproof for these situations.
7) School on your hacks. If you can not ride in your fields anymore because they are to wet learn to school out hacking. Can you ask him to move over, can you ask him to halt, rein back? Can you ask him to collect that trot and canter or can you ask him to extend. Yes you will loose the turning, circling options but you can work on so much whilst on your ride.
8) Light weights on top of heavy rugs. I generally put light weights on top of my heavier rugs. This meant i never had stupidly heavy and thick rugs soaking wet and no way of drying them. That means less stinky rugs and less issues.
9) Towels – A bag of rags or towels on hand up the field for wet ponies that need to be ridden or wet humans that just want to wipe their face. Its an incredible feeling when your dripping wet head to toe to just wipe the water of your face and maybe dry a little of your hair before you get into the car.
10) Finally – Keep on top of your fitness, there will be times when you just cant ride. Don’t worry about that, if you can keep your fitness up at the gym or the comfort of your own home then bringing your horse back into shape isn’t as hard as you may think.