How do eventers survive winter?
Winter is a game of survival for anyone who owns a horse, but for those who are used to the fast-paced world of eventing in the warm Summer months, the off-season is a challenge in maintaining your sanity. The eventing withdrawal symptoms usually kick in within a week of jumping the last cross-country jump of the season and it is a long wait until the competitions recommence the following year, so how do eventers survive?! These are my top tips for beating the winter blues:
1) Start planning next year’s event season! Literally the second the new fixtures list is announced eventers everywhere will frantically produce spreadsheets, colour-coded charts and draft out Plan A, B, C (and so on) of the events they want to attend next year. This means that even though it’s only November, the countdown is officially on!
2) Ask Santa (or family and friends!) to replace all the items that have been broken/lost/worn out/stood on by horses etc etc. Top of my list is usually studs, and this year is no exception as I managed to lose a total of 5 at one single event this year – that’s a record even for me! I also think it’s time to update my cross-country colours next year and am looking forward to designing something new. A lot of eventers bring out new colours at the start of the season because we can be a bit superstitious about changing mid-way through the year!
3) Get some top-tips from the pro’s! There are normally quite a few demonstrations / masterclasses on over Winter and it is a great time to watch the professionals put other riders through their paces and see how they would train their own horses and progress them up the levels. It’s a great opportunity to ask questions about their training methods or get some advice about any issues you have encountered yourself. I recently attended the Paul Tapner Masterclass at Hartpury College and the take home message was definitely ‘repeat until boring’ (I mentioned this in my blog about when to move up a level as it was Mr Tapner himself who advised to move up a level when you’re bored with the level you’re at!).
4) Get ahead of the game! Winter is the time to work on all the weak areas you have identified throughout the season. Unfortunately for Molly this means she will be spending a lot of time doing half-pass and establishing her flying changes! But don’t make it boring; horses need variety even more at this time of year so keep it fun and interesting by including hacking and jumping in your schedule each week. Molly will also be attending the JAS (jumping and style) competitions in January and February which I can’t wait for and will be a great tune-up before our first event!
5) Be prepared! Yes, the weather’s rotten and we can’t all be lucky enough to have an indoor school to ride in, but you can make riding in torrential downpours or sub-zero temperatures as pleasurable as possible by kitting yourself out properly. Equestrian apparel has moved on a lot in recent times – velcro fastenings at the bottom of your breeches are even a thing of the past! Breeches now come in fleecy lined varieties with softshell fabrics that repel water – check out the HKM Winner Winter breeches available for under £50. Also look out for the gorgeous Mountain Horse Cheval Coat which will keep you toasty down to the knees!
If all else fails, then make like a bear and go into hibernation! Stay warm everyone and have a Happy New Year!!
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