As you already know, the horrible winter weather is well and truly upon us! Many horses have already had their first winter haircut and are wearing heavy outdoor rugs day and night. Most are lucky enough to be tucked up in their snuggly pyjamas ready for their evening in a cosy stable too.
This is not the case for our bunch though, they have the pleasure of living out 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year. The only exception for this is illness or a need additional care. Most of them well and truly get fluffy winter coats apart from Candy, who has been given a low trace clip to stop her sweating too much when we are out and about.
Our yard, as with many others, uses this period of winter as downtime. Daylight is at a minimum and the weather is unpredictable so this means we can’t always plan ahead. The natural sand arena regularly floods and some of the fields get very wet and boggy quickly, so we need to think of different things to keep the horses interested, fit, supple, fed and most importantly, happy.
With a lot of elements against us, we try to focus on improving the horses from the ground by doing lots of stretching exercises, grooming and tackling any issues such as loading. We also use this time to start doing more with our youngest horses, particular tasks including bitting and tacking up.
This winter we will predominantly be concentrating on loading and travelling Grace, helping us prepare for her first dressage competition in the new year. You may have already seen her on our Facebook page (Harrison Equestrian) during her first real loading session with horse whisperer, Patrick Gracey, back in October. Since then she has been loaded on a regular basis and has even started going out in the wagon for short journeys. So far she hasn’t put a hoof wrong and has been a fantastic traveller. Our next step will be to offload her at a new location to have a walk around, before being loaded to return home.
Our ridden work over the winter will be focused on hacking out. Whilst hacking on a nearby bridle path, we will spend time focusing on some basic school movements such as leg yield, shoulder in, shoulder fore etc before allowing some relaxing time. Allowing plenty of time for stretching-out, lengthening our walk and working on our suppleness are other great ideas when it comes to keeping us warm and focused. All of this will benefit us for the coming season of competition.
To finish off, we have to say that we are already looking forward to next year and are hoping to start it off in the best possible way.