The Stables

5 Things To Remember When Hacking Out During The Winter

With winter arriving horse owners have to dig deep and get through the next few months battling the elements. With daylight hours reduced this means that riding time is scarce especially if you have to juggle in work when trying to keep your horse exercised.

Here we have five top tips to remember when hacking out through these cold winter months:

1 Make sure you have enough daylight hours when you hack out. Riding out in the late afternoon means hacking back potentially in the dark. Leave plenty of time to make sure that there is enough light and you can be seen.

2 During these long winter months, tell someone at your yard or a family member where you are planning to hack out. Let them know your rough route and how long you are going to be. If you are using bridleways, make sure you know they are open and passable during the muddy months. Always have a mobile phone with you in a secure pocket or special holder.

3 Check the weather forecast. Remember the weather can change quickly especially in the UK when one minute it can be a lovely cold and crisp sunny day and the next dark clouds appear with falling sleet and snow on the ground! If you think the roads are too icy, don’t ride. Black ice is lethal for horses, especially with metal shoes.

4 Ensure you wear plenty of hi-viz for you and your horse. There are some great products from flashing lighting on your stirrups to lights on your riding hat. Make sure your horse has a riding sheet that can be seen and to keep them warm, especially through the depths of winter.

5 Wear appropriate clothing for the weather conditions to make sure you are warm and dry. Wear gloves that are designed for horse riding and you have warm boots and socks to keep your toes toastie! Jackets that are especially for horse riders have zipped pockets to keep your phone safe and are waterproof to keep you dry. Many have hi-viz binding to make sure that you are also seen on the roads.

These tough months seem gutsy at the time but they do quickly pass and before long, summer days will be with us giving horse owners a time to enjoy summer hacking from early mornings to late balmy evenings! Most of all, stay safe with your horse through these winter months.

by Samantha Hobden

Image credit: Photo © Walter Baxter (cc-by-sa/2.0)

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