If you let out a groan in October when the clocks went back, you’re not alone. All horse owners in the country were groaning along with you.
Winter is the time of year that every horse owner dreads. It’s not so bad if you can afford to put your horse on full or part livery and have done with it – but, sadly, that’s not always possible for practical or financial reasons. And, believe it or not, some grade A nutters actually want to do their horse themselves, even when it’s -9 degrees outside and blowing a gale that makes 2017’s Beast From The East feel like a warm breeze.
It’s challenging enough trying to ride Prince when he’s fully clipped out and super-fresh after little or no turnout due to waterlogged fields. You’ve had to give up on the idea of hacking him because when you tried, he spun round in the road, sending cars screeching to a halt – all because an autumn leaf floated past. So you decide to give him a good canter round the school to tire him out – only for him to spook every time you pass the mounting block you used to get on him just five minutes ago. Yep. Every. Single. Time.
Now spare a thought for the winter DIY horse owner. You really are a special breed, horse people. Your partners watch incredulously as you climb out of bed at 6am, pull on a fully waterproof oversuit to keep your work clothes clean and dry, and strap on a head torch so you can see in the dark to turn Prince out.
‘I wish she’d show me that much attention,’ they think jealously to themselves as you get on the phone to your yardmates, trying to work out which one of you has a car that might just make it through the three-foot snowdrifts currently clogging the lanes surrounding the yard. That lucky person then gets to feed and turn out ALL the horses on the yard – assuming they can get the frozen gates open first, that is.
You’re constantly splashed with mud from the huge puddles that have built up in the gateway to your horse’s field – and you’re mortified when you nip into Tesco to grab some milk on the way home, only to trail hay and big clods of mud all the way up the dairy aisle. Your hands are so sore and chapped from lugging hay nets about in the rain that they resemble something from the Walking Dead. You end up spending an absolute fortune on hand creams to try and soothe your skin. None of them work.
On the plus side, you’ve built up muscles like Serena Williams’ from pushing your wheelbarrow through those puddles in your horse’s field order to poo pick it. Who needs a personal trainer when they’ve got a horse, eh?
But there are upsides to winter horse ownership – like those days when it’s cool and crisp, the sun is shining brightly (if not hotly), and the bridleways aren’t too muddy, for once. Winter has its own special beauty, and as you plod along on your horse, you get to experience it in all its glory. It’s a great time to be a horse owner. Enjoy it!