Winter Survival Tips

Some of these are equestrian specific.. others count for everyone!

Be Prepared

It is a bit late for this now and I’m regretting it. Must do better next year!

Have your rugs clean and planned out (I failed on this front. I haven’t got a no fill rug with a neck and that’s what I want now!)

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Establish A Routine

This has been a godsend for me.

Come rain or shine, Monday nights and Friday nights have been my concrete riding nights (bar one or two where I was poorly or had other commitments) and then weekend riding fits around everything else.  Three/four rides a week isn’t as good as I want but it is as much as I can manage.

Wrap Up

It is an obvious one but so important.  Cold and wet weather has always and will always affect my leg so I’ve become a bit of an expert on this.

Footwear – My neoprene Le Chameau changed my life last winter.  They are warm, comfy and the mud doesn’t seem to clump on the bottoms.

Thermals – I’ve got some old Helly Hansen thermal leggings which are so helpful in the winter.

Waterproof trousers – I have Mark Todd waterproofs for proper cold weather which are like wearing duvets on your legs – my top recommendation for snow!  I have thin Horseware ones and Ornella Prosperi for normal days!

Coats – This winter I am rocking my Mark Todd coat, with a fleecy inside and a high collar it has been keeping me properly toasty.  If I’m hacking out though I wear my high vis.

Headgear – I have bobble hats and headbands galore but this winter I think I might have to invest in some earwarmers for my hat.

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Go Alternative

If your outdoor activity is restricted, try something else – yoga for example, reading a good book (I’ll be reviewing Charlotte Dujardin’s ‘The Girl On The Dancing Horse’ soon) or check out Can’t Ride, Can Horse for more ideas.

Accept

Accept the mud, accept the darkness, bide your time because it will be over and before we know it we will be complaining about the heat and the flies!

Safety First

This week, the very best horsewoman I know got injured by a horse on the ground. It just hit home to me what a dangerous game we all play in the horse world. There is still a massive stigma around wearing safety equipment and I just don’t get it. So here we go, here’s what I think and here’s what I use.

Hats

These days generally you’re frowned upon if you don’t wear a proper hat whilst riding but there are still Pateys worn out hunting and top hats worn in dressage. I was shocked to read in Charlotte Dujardin’s book that she only started wearing a crash hat after a bad incident.  When you think about high profile accidents like Jonty Evans’ fall it doesn’t bear thinking of what would have happened if he wasn’t wearing a hat.

What I want to preach but don’t necessarily practise is that really you should wear a hat when doing ANYTHING with horses.  Leading in and out from the field can be dangerous enough let alone administering first aid.

Obviously a hat only does a good job if it is fitted correctly, up to standard, undamaged and done up (whoops to my picture).  Noone wants to have to buy a new one too often but if you drop it or fall on your head you really should.

I have a Gatehouse HS1 which has served me well for a good few years as an all-rounder but I’d love to either get a Charles Owen or win the lottery and get a Samshield for the future.

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Body Protectors

There is a reason all jockeys have to wear body protectors to race and eventers must wear them in the cross country phase!  Anything that reduces the risk of serious injury sounds good to me!

I go through phases with whether I wear mine or not.  I always use one when I’m jumping and on fun rides but I don’t do much of that anymore.  Sometimes I wear mine when hacking, particularly if things are likely to get exciting or if Pea is feeling a bit fresh.  My body protector sometimes acts as a safety blanket too, if I am feeling nervous about riding, for whatever reason, I feel more confident when wearing it.

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I am the only adult at my yard who wears one but I don’t care.  Lots of people say they aren’t comfortable but they are a lot more comfortable than being in hospital, take it from me!  Again, a body protector will only do its job if it is correctly fitted to you.

I have an old Racesafe and would thoroughly recommend one to anyone because all the foam pieces mould to your body and are much more comfortable than some other designs.  I will certainly need to upgrade to a new one for when I’ve built up enough stamina for going on fun rides and potentially riding other horses!

High Vis.

‘Be safe, be seen’ is quite a widely adopted hacking adage these days but you still see riders out on the road without it.  I just don’t understand it!  A high vis tabard is not expensive, nor is it particularly fashionable (although you can certainly get more fashionable ones) but it if it saves the life of you, your horse and others then it is a million percent worth wearing as a minimum!

I like to go to town with high vis (even though I never hack out in limited visibility and I’m always back at the yard before dark).  I have pink and yellow Equisafety waistcoats (which have massively useful zip pockets) as standard.  I also have a fantastic pink coat which I was given so I’m not sure where it came from which is great for the winter (and school trips).  My flashing LED breastplate also came from Equisafety – although I don’t use it often, it is quite a fun but functional addition to Pea’s hacking wardrobe.

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So there we go.  A lecture from Poppy.  But seriously, safe IS cool.

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