With winter well and truly here and the darker nights coming round very fast each day it is often hard to find the time to ride.
This may mean riding in the mornings or evenings when light is lacking. Whilst it is important to continue to hack your horse throughout the winter months, especially as it provides stimulation and good fitness work after perhaps long periods in the stable, it comes with added risks, due to the poor light.
If you are able to ride during the day, you may not have a problem with light but bad weather can create poor conditions on the road for you to contend with.
Here we look at some top tips for staying safe whilst hacking out this winter.
High visibility clothing should be worn at all times when hacking, whatever time of day or year, but this is particularly important during the winter when lighting may be poor. A fluorescent jacket, waistcoat or tabard with reflective strips should be worn by the rider. Hat and leg bands are also available for the rider. A fluorescent, reflective exercise sheet is a good idea for the horse and is multi-purpose in the winter as can also keep the chill of them. Reflective brushing boots, tail bands and bridle accessories are also available to ensure the horse is made as visible as possible.
If the weather is bad, assess the conditions on the road or on your hacking route before setting out. Icy ground can be particularly dangerous for horses, as can snow. If the conditions look poor, don’t risk hacking out, but if it looks safe ensure that you still take extra care to avoid taking your horse on unsuitable footing. Very wet and muddy ground can also cause problems and your horse may strain himself trying to get through it or pull off a shoe.
Be sure to enjoy your horse this winter but take care.