Winter survival guide for horse riders/owners

Winter survival guide for horse riders/owners

When the long, dark, cold months start to come around each year, many people start to prepare for ways to make their horse more comfortable or entertained during the winter months or look up ways to avoid them becoming unwell. But what about you? Here we look at a few ways to keep you warm and happy when the temperature begins to plummet.

Riding clothes

Unfortunately, with these colder months tends to come rain but unlike the welcome relief of a summer shower, winter rain can just be cold, miserable and downright unwanted. If you know or suspect it is going to rain make sure you wear a waterproof wrap-around exercise sheet as it will keep both you and your horse dry. It can be tempting to wear thick clothing but make sure you wear layers in case you do become too warm and then you are able to strip off layer by layer to keep warm, not over heated, and comfortable.

You can also wear ear warmers under your helmet or a hood over it to keep your head warm, Buff’s are also fantastic for this as they are designed to keep the warm in during the winter and dust out plus the UV Buff can keep out harmful rays during the summer. Another thing to keep in mind is fleece-lined riding pants, they will provide the insulation you need during the cold months and can be found at most task stores.

If you are looking into getting yourself a pair of lined warm boots for the winter, make sure they aren’t too large as to get stuck in your stirrups – your feet should still be able to slide out of the stirrups quickly if you take a fall.

Keeping hydrated and fed

Cold weather heralds in a boost in people drinking and purchasing hot drinks. Although there is no evidence that proves drinking hot drinks actually heat you up physically, it is often seen as a placebo effect, if it works for you make sure you bring a thermos with you so you’ve got that top-up of a hot beverage when you feel you need it. You do need to drink more in the cold weather – plus the wearing of layers and bulky clothing may cause you to sweat more, so you need to make sure you stay hydrated!

Shivering doubles and sometimes triples metabolic output, so you need to make sure you are eating enough during these months. Packing a snack or granola bar will make sure you have that boost on hand that you need to keep you going. You will be burning calories during the winter, so you must make sure you don’t bypass a meal or snack when you need one or you may find yourself feeling weak and sluggish. Keep an eye on yourself and make sure you’re eating and drinking enough so you don’t suffer or find yourself coming down with a cold.

Hints and tips

There are a few things you can do or adopt during the winter months to make life a bit easier for yourself when it feels like the weather is against you. Putting a tennis ball or rubber duck in your horse’s trough can stop the water freezing over and turning to ice, be careful with the rubber duck as birds can tend to carry them away! Another idea is to put a brick or something heavy in an old carrot sack to break the thick ice in water troughs. You can also use a sieve or colander to scoop out the remaining ice without having to use your hands.

Another idea is to exchange your wheelbarrow for a sled to move things in the field when it is covered in snow or ice. All you need to do is put the items you’re moving on the sled and pull – no more wrestling with the wheelbarrow to get it through the snow.

Another suggestion is to get a heater for your tack room. If the room becomes too cold or moist it could lead to your tack getting damp and at worst mouldy.

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