While the thought of competing in winter can be a little nerve-wracking, not to mention chilly, there are lots of reasons to look forward to this special part of the equestrian calendar. With your horse freshly clipped and keen to exercise, indoor venues promising protection from the elements and a great sense of camaraderie with your fellow competitors, winter competing is a fantastic opportunity to push yourself, especially if you take these tips into account:
- Don’t leave your lorry maintenance to chance.
Travelling to any venue in winter can be a little daunting, but even more so if you vehicle isn’t in prime condition to start with. Always check that all the fluids are topped up, that the tyres have decent amounts of tread and that you are ready to roll with a nicely full tank of fuel. An extra tip, courtesy of the professionals, is to take a small heater with you, to warm up where you change into your competing clothes.
- Look into the potential riding surfaces.
There’s nothing wrong with doing your research and choosing to only ride in arenas that have a surface that appeals to you. Let’s not forget that winter can bring extreme weather conditions and as such, you might not feel happy eventing on a ground surface that is frozen solid. Indoor arenas will always prove popular for this reason.
- Find a solution you can’t live without.
Whether it’s heated insoles for your riding boots, thermal gloves or just remembering to take multiples of everything in case some get wet, that one thing that is guaranteed to make you more comfortable while competing will make a huge difference! Also, the less you’re focussed on cold feet and hands, the more you can concentrate on your ride.
- Give yourself lots of time.
Winter temperatures mean longer warm-up and cool-down times, so never rush. You want to be sure that you have a good grasp on the conditions that you’ll be riding in, that you understand courses that are unfamiliar and that you and your horse are both sufficiently limbered up and ready for action.
- Be prepared for winter health issues.
When you’ve finished competing, always take the time to thoroughly dry your horse, so as to prevent cool weather health issues, where possible. Conditions such as mud fever can set in surprisingly quickly and take a long time to eradicate, which could mean an early end to your winter competing season, if your not careful. Just as you’d seek to prevent colds and flu knocking you for six, your horse needs you to extend them the same courtesy.