By Peter Fishpool
Whether your equine is a hard-working competition horse or a happy hacker, the autumn months bring about new challenges for the horse owner, such as reduced light, colder weather, mud and depending on temperament, fresh behaviour from our horses.
So in our latest article for Pegasus, we take a look at maximising your opportunities to ride this autumn.
There are lots of things to get involved in during the autumn months!
For some equestrians, the goal is simply to maximise the opportunities to get out hacking, and this time of year offers some of the most beautiful times to be in the countryside.
Those bright, misty early mornings can offer some of the best times to relax and prepare for the day, whilst enjoying your horse’s company.
For competitive riders, whilst Eventing wraps up for the season at the end of October, the Dressage and Show Jumping world is still in full swing, with many winter competitions and championships to aim for.
TREC (pictured left) offer a winter series – click HERE – it is known as ‘Arena TREC’, and focuses on the MA (Control of Paces) and PTV (Obstacle course) phases of the discipline, and events are usually run in an indoor or outdoor school.
For those polo fans out there, or riders wanting to give this sport a go, despite the grass play drawing to a close, there is still arena polo to whet your appetite!
Autumn has got a lot to offer as a season for equestrianism; no flies, soft ground and cooler weather – so let’s look at some advice to ensure you make the most of it!
Maximising your Riding in Autumn
Time management is key. Autumn means reduced hours of light so this can mean it is more difficult to ride. Keep a close eye on the clock when completing jobs if you also plan to ride or why not ride first and muck out and prepare feeds etc once you’ve made the most of the light and ridden! Draw up a weekly schedule of when you can ride and if there are any days you can go into work early or late in order to ride at either end of the day. Done each week this will ensure your horse is ridden more regularly. You could plan your hacking for the weekend if you are lucky enough to have a floodlit school to use on week nights!
Think outside the box. Some riders box to local show centres or their instructors yard to use the facilities. If affordable you could make a weekly routine of this and avoid missing a ride due to boggy fields or lack of light.
Clip your horse if you’re riding regularly. For some equines clipping is not necessary as the winter coat protects them from the elements but for working horses and ponies thick, hairy coats can mean they loose significant sweat and overheat when ridden. This will limit their ability to perform and if not resolved via Electrolytes it can disrupt their bodies’ mineral balance. As organisation is key at this time of you plan your schedule so you know you can clip your horse when required, or book well in advance if someone is coming to do the job for you. This will ensure you don’t loose vital riding time due to a fluffy coat!
Check your local events calendar! At this time of year sponsored rides, clinics (pictured left) and hunter trials are a joy, with many usually inaccessible places opening to the public for annual events. Check your local events calendar to see what is going on near you!
At this time of year, the nutritional value of the grass depletes, so it is essential to assess whether your horse or pony has the condition and the fuel he needs to perform. Offering a balanced diet is essential to every equine’s health and well being alongside the combination of sufficient and correct exercise.
Energy sources such as fibre, fat, starch and good quality protein will all help to aid energy and muscle development. Feeding a Horse Joint Supplement will help to limit any negative affects of colder, damper weather on the joints. Scientific Nutritional Products offers Horse Joint Right Supreme packed with beneficial ingredients to keep your horse supple and active this season including Horse Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM and HA.
Scientific Nutritional Products, the company I represent, offers a wide range of supplementary feed products for equines and dogs – visit www.horsesupplementsdirect.co.uk