Winter is a word that us equestrians often dread. It means a multitude of new challenges that we now face on a daily basis, most of which we would rather not!
Challenge Number 1: Lack of daylight hours
I think many of us will argue that this is the HARDEST pill to swallow when it comes to winter. Can we ride before work? No it’s dark. Can we ride after work? No it’s dark by 4pm. I’m writing this from the perspective of a DIY owner at a yard without an arena. I know there are many of us DIY horse owners who have 0 facilities and this can make riding your horse Monday-Friday pretty much impossible throughout winter. It’s rather hard to keep your horse super fit if you can only exercise them twice a week.
Challenge Number 2: The Weather
Rain, ice, snow and fog are the main culprits here. These weather conditions cause us no end of problems. Too much rain, no turnout for your horses (in my case anyway)! Ice, no turnout AND no riding (too dangerous, obviously). Snow, same again in most cases. Fog? No chance of going out on that hack! The changeable and miserable weather in the UK is a real pain in the arse for us horse owners.
Challenge Number 3: MUD!
Who likes mud? No one I would imagine. Mud = mud fever. Mud = shoes being pulled off. Mud = falling flat on your arse in the field. Mud is just annoying, messy, and inconvenient. I can’t wait to see those mud free spring paddocks.
Challenge Number 4: Time
Mucking out, skipping out, filling hay nets, making hard feeds, turning out and bringing in, washing down legs, picking out feet, rug changes. These aren’t even all of the tasks we have to contend with on a daily basis. It feels like there is simply not enough time in the day in winter. Don’t you just love it when you come to the realisation that you need to go and get more hay and straw down from the barn but you also need to leave for work in approximately 5 minutes ago? Nope, me neither. Us horse owners GRAFT in winter. It is a real slog and can be so tiring.
Challenge Number 5: Mental Health
Winter affects us all in different ways, but I know through Instagram and talking to so many other horse owners that we all feel a bit down in the dumps in winter. Getting out of bed in the dark each morning and driving home from the yard in the dark each night takes it’s toll. We often end up beating ourselves up because we feel we aren’t achieving enough with our horses. How many times do we say to ourselves ‘ I have only ridden X times this week, it’s not good enough!’ Our bodies get a battering in winter and it’s important to look after our mental as well as physical health during these months.
Only 49 days to go until spring. BRING IT ON!!!!