So here we are, how are we entering the winter months already? Every horse owner out there can now relate to the season of… wet rugs, muddy fields, constant hoof picking, clipping, bigger feeds & hay nets and God knows what else.
I don’t know about anyone else but the biggest change to my horsey routine so far is the decrease in riding that I’m able to do. I absolutely HATE the dark mornings. They are so restrictive whereby I find myself sat waiting for sunrise to 1) ride safely and 2) allow for enough time to get a ride in, ready for work! With the pandemic and lockdowns, I found myself riding 5 times a week. Now I know that seems a lot but please remember my Bella is a happy hacker with mostly walk & trot. I became addicted all over again, I would get up early and enjoy a lovely long hack before the day had even started. I got into a great routine and felt like I had achieved something every day.
I found myself getting really down about this whole thing as I LOVED riding first thing in the morning. No one was up, it was so peaceful, so quiet and now that I can’t hack around the fields, I’m finding myself feeling very lost of a morning time. Not only that I’m having major mum guilt for Bella who really enjoyed our morning strolls first thing where we would plan our days and have a good ol’ catch up.
I’m very sure I’m not the only one that feels like this and over the years, as Bella has gotten older, I must keep reminding myself she’s probably very thankful to avoid walking in the rain/snow/wind and dark! But I can’t help but feel my time on the yard and those hours spent with her are being reduced without my say so!
A wise woman once said (and mum if you’re reading- thank you)… time spent with your horse doesn’t always have to be in the saddle for it to be constructive or ‘well spent’ time. Simply grooming your horse in the warm dry stable or taking time to fluff up the straw bed for those winter nights can have more of a positive impact than doing nothing at all now that you can’t ride as much.
Now I know I maybe a unique situation with this as Bella is a very mature horse and we are no longer competing but even those show ponies need some TLC in the winter. It’s a hard time for us but imagine the challenges our horses face each day they’re turned out in the elements!
In a nutshell here are some super easy tips when/if you’re faced with guilt for your horse now that we’re in the winter
Groom that mud away
Try and get the rugs dry and ready for the next day
Rug accordingly to the weather
Take time to make your stable a lovely, warm & comfy environment
Ensure there’s always plenty of food
Ride when you can but be kind to yourself when external factors mean you can’t
I hope you enjoyed this really simple but truthful blog. All information is my own and I just wanted to share how I was feeling in case anyone could relate!
Thanks for reading
BSc Hons Sports Therapy MSST
MSc Strength and Conditioning
Equine Sports Massage & Rehabilitation Therapist