Winter is definitely NOT my favorite time of the year when it comes to horse riding. You are constantly disrupted with bad weather which in turn messes up your routines. Below I have outlined a few tips, and advice on how I cope, from keeping motivated while riding, to dealing with the likes of Mud Rash.
Have a read below & be sure to comment on any tips you have of your own, be warned I have added in a few quirky tips of my own that may possibly only relate to me!!
If your horse is clipped, then I highly recommend they be rugged! Do be aware that over rugging can also be a problem. Be sure to keep an eye on the weight of your rug. Rugs can vary from light-weight, medium-weight to heavy-weight! If you turn your horse out in the winter rugged up be sure to keep an eye on their condition, take their rug of for an hour once a week to give them a breather, it also gives you time to have a good look at their weight etc.
Try not to over rug your horse, just because you are feeling the cold doesn’t mean they are, that is not how it works! Older horses, and clipped horses may feel the cold that bit more. Start off with a light weight rug, and as you move into the depths of the winter increase the weight. Another valid point to consider, your horse may loose weight during the winter, if your horse is prone to this make sure to keep them well rugged.
You can check how warm they are & determine if they need an extra layer by simply putting your hand in under there rug, feel up around the withers, if its cold add an extra layer, if it is wet or they feel as if they are sweating they most definately need a lighter rug. Check out the 4 links below, for a selection of different rugs on offer at the moment!
Darielle’s Random Tip: A great way to find out your horses temperature, cuff your hand around the base of his ear, this is generally a great indication of their body temperature, a great way of telling if they are warm or cold! Well it works for Dante anyways!
- Keep a bail of twine handy around the yard incase of emergencies! You never know when you may need to repair a fillet string!
- Label your rugs (If you can) It is quite handy to put a small tag on the front fasteners of your rug, its is barely noticable and relitavely stays out of the way! In the long run it will save you getting your rug mixed up with someone else, lets face it all rugs start looking the same once the muck starts sticking to them!
Darielle’s Random Tip: This is a very interesting tip I read online a while ago, and I am hoping maybe one of our readers will test it out!! Here it goes, using dental floss to sew up tears/patches in your rugs! Apparently dental floss is waterproof and very strong, so feel free to give it a go and let me know how you get on!
Having a cooler on hand during the winter is vital. It is great to have them handy for those cold evenings, to throw on them to cool them down that bit quicker, also handy for putting on them while in the horse box for travelling!
Feeding: Some horses don’t get fed during the summer months, as they are turned out in luscious paddocks with rich grass! For me Dante, had the best of both worlds, he was fed twice a day during the summer. Not much will change for him during the winter months, with only a slight increase in his food intake. I will also be incorporating more oils into his feed, this will help his joints over the colder months.
Karron Oil is my go to supplements for him, I find it great, that or linseed oil. When my bank balance doesn’t allow me to buy the more expensive oils, I settle with sunflower oil, (69c a bottle in Lidl, I really cant go wrong)
Mud Rash: One of the most common winter infections for your horse to pick up. It affects the horses legs, and is associated with the skin being exposed to the bacteria that is in the soil. Not all mucky legged horses will get mud rash. Some horses simply have sensitive skin, so they are more prone.
Not to worry though, as there is a solution. When bringing in your horse from the field make it a habit to hose down their legs, and towel drying them afterwards. There are also a lot of creams on the market for this condition if it gets bad. I have linked above the Pink Hoof Clay, that I highly recommend!
Foot Care: Winter is not the most ideal time for your horses feet, especially if they are standing out in overly mucky wet soggy fields. This in turn makes your horses feet quite soft. Loosing shoes is a huge liability during the winter months, the muck has weird ways of sucking them off that I simply cannot explain, so keep an eye on those hooves when you bring them in from the field, and again hose off that muck!
Keeping their hooves conditioned is another major plus to keeping good hoof care, you really cannot disagree that cornucrescine is on of the best, but Plus Vital is also another one on the top of my list, see a few of my suggestions below!
Darielle’s Random Tip: I am not sure if anyone else does this or if I am just a weirdo! But I always cut my horses tails a little bit shorter during the winter months, it keeps the muck from gathering on it! This may just be me being a complete freak though!!
Riding & Keeping Motivated
Winter is most definitely not ideal weather to be riding in, its cold, wet & miserable. I have listed a few tips below to keep you motivated. Myself & Orla will be running a winter exercise blog also, hopefully it will be up & running in the next two weeks! We will be going through different exercises to keep you & your horse motivated and fit over those dreaded winter months! So keep your eye on the blog in the future weeks!
Winter Riding Tips:
- Dont put that half arsed effort in, give it 100% or dont do anything at all. If your miserable riding, more than likely your horse will start to be too. You want positive vibes & energy when your riding.
- If your having an off day, or you simply cant get the heat into your body, lunge your horse. It will give them a chance to stretch out. More than likely your horse will be in the stable more during the winter, so getting them out to move their legs will keep them in good spirits. A 20 minute session is plenty, no need to go into long hourly sessions!
- If you have a walker, USE IT!!! It is not only a magnificent addition to cooling down your horse quicker, but you can also use it for warming up your horse! Make the most of your amenities!
- Keep things interesting. If you only have access to riding in an arena during the winter make sure to plan out exercises in advance to keep you & your horse on your toes, better yet set out a winter goal for you and your horse. Learn new things, or start doing more no stirrup work! Its all beneficial to your training!
- Get up early and go for hacks! Hacking in the winter is one of my favorite things to do, those crisp winter mornings are my favorite.
- Have you got an Exercise sheet? If you do use it, a clipped horse will appreciate it hugely on those bitter cold days!! Worse case scenario, you can take if off mid session if you feel your horses is working up a sweat.
Look After Yourself
As much as we all hate to admit it, we are all only human, not superhuman! Winter takes its toll on some of us, from catching colds to old injuries creeping back in due to the coldness in the air! If you plan on surviving the winter make sure you look after yourself as much as you look after your horse. The weather isn’t always fantastic, so don’t try to over do it with the riding if the weather conditions are not on your side. A few extra days off for your horse in the winter will definitely not hurt, and who can complain about those extra hours sitting in front of the fire!
- Dress appropriately, Wear the Dam coat!!!
- During the winter months, I always bring a spare pair of clothes with me to the yard, or I leave them sitting in my car! It is not ideal walking around the place is soaking wet clothes, or with wet soggy feet, so make sure to pack some spares.
- Wear a hat, keep that head warm! It keeps the heat in.
- Invest in a good pair of gloves, for riding and for doing the yard work! See below some I highly recommend with Roekl being my favs, I cannot fault them!
One last tip I would highly recommend to everyone during the winter months, look after your tack! It can take a bit of a bashing during the Winter, from not being used as regularly to sitting in cold tack rooms! That along with your boots, (tendon, fetlock boots)they will all need a lot of attention if you want them to stay in good condition over the winter months!
If you follow our Instagram #NoBuckingWayBlog you will know that I often waffle on about a certain leather cleaner that works absolute wonders!! I will link it below.
Hopefully someone finds the above helpful, if you have any tips of your own to get you throught he winter, make sure to leave your comments below!