January 2016

January has blown in with gale force winds and rain, but at least we don’t have the flooding that is devastating people and animals further north. It certainly wasn’t a white Christmas or a warm one! The terrier and the cat want to stay huddled under a duvet most of the day, and I don’t blame them.

The latest article is on the use of calmer’s, as their use seems to be increasing at a dramatic rate. Having grown up at a time when naughty horses were blamed on the rider and doping was only done by villains to racehorses, I can readily see the disadvantages of relying on them for long term solutions or quick-fixes. So before using them, consider why your horse needs them!

Well done to all those hardy souls that are continuing to compete and train through the bad weather. Carol is teaching a gridwork clinic at Plumpton, and dressage clinics at Plumpton and Petley Wood this winter, and she is also judging at various places – fortunately the clinics themselves are indoors so she won’t freeze! There are also numerous jumping and driving shows at local venues, so not everyone is hibernating. However, if you are having trouble getting motivated during winter, then entering a competition or booking a lesson can stimulate the interest again.Mind you, as I am typing this the clouds are starting to throw down sleety snow…. So I think it will be a day off for the horses today anyway. Brrrr. I do remember the time when I used to do fitness work (for the horse) regardless of the weather (when three-day eventing); one time we were up the hills and nearly got blown out of the saddle as we came round a corner! The horses didn’t mind though.

An interesting study done in Norway has shown that if a horse is given the option of shelter, then it will still spend around half its time outdoors, and that the majority of horses just needed access to a shelter and plenty of food to maintain health. As these were unrugged horses in sub-arctic conditions it is not surprising that scientists worry about the effect of over-rugging on the health of our horses. Of course, some horses definitely need rugs to keep them warm, especially on a day like today with wind-blown sleet, but see our article on rugging (click) if you need more information on how a horse generates heat differently to humans.

Hopefully it will be an early (and dry) spring, but in the meantime keep an eye out for those gaps between the clouds, and enjoy what riding you can.


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