The best advice I can give to all frozen horsey people and one that worked fantastically for me is: don’t fight the winter, embrace it!
The more we moan and wish it away the more it is on our minds and the more hate towards it we feel. That in turn brings us down, makes us into a rather depressed and fed up individual who quite easily finds life in the cold a big nuisance.
Quick Fixes for Short Days Blues
Get up early – as early as possible for you, ideally as close to sunrise as you manage. This will win you some daylight hours. If like me you are more of an owl than a lark, get up 10min earlier each morning for a set amount of days – after 10 days you will be getting up 100 minutes earlier than usual.
Train Harder – many professional riders treat winter as their down time to relax and be with the family but if you are reading this you are most likely a horse mad, ambitious amateur. That means that best thing for you to beat those winter blues might be to release as many endorphins into your blood stream as you can. Structured, intensive lessons are a great solution. Not only that you will feel better afterwards but you will be fit and ready for when the spring comes and you can ride more.
Focus – having lessons makes you think, it focuses your efforts and keeps you interested. It’s nice to wander around the arena in the sun or go for a hack on a stunning summer morning but when cold wind presses tears out of your eyeballs you need someone there suffering with you and spurring you on. Your instructor will always be colder standing still than you working out just in case you needed someone out there to feel worse than you feel 😉
Have a winter fitness regime – find something that suits your personality. You don’t have to run on a treadmill for an hour if you hate going to the gym. Pick something you like or perhaps something that you would like to try. I’ve been taking yoga classes for the last few weeks. Even though I still feel as if someone attached my limbs to four horses and let them run wild in a field during the sessions, I feel fabulous afterwards. Having suffered from some shoulders pain I noticed how much more supple I feel. There are plenty of activities to chose from. Go for it and do it once a week or more.
Winter is for Reading 🙂 – this might not be for everyone and parents with young children might struggle here I acknowledge but dark evenings are simply designed for book time 🙂 (or blog time!) If you agree, grab yourself a cup of tea/coffee/wine and start yourself a Winter Reading Ritual.
Stay Warm – this might seem obvious but it took me years of trial and error to get this right! If you teach and stay outside for 12 hours a day it is extremely difficult to remain warm at all times. Standing still is the worst but equally, when you ride/muck out/hay up etc and sweat, you are then having to spend the rest of the day in damp clothes. Not great for staying warm.
Technical clothes that wick moisture well and keep you warm are not cheap and usually out of reach for many who work with horses or who keep horses on a shoestring budget.
The system that works for me is to have:
1) Layers – and have a change of clothes with you (the bottom layers)
2) Best wool underwear you can find, you will not regret it – I got a very thin wool vest from friend from Norway and it’s been my best winter friend ever since. It is very soft on the skin and unbelievably insulating.
3) Ski wear…for some reason even fairly good skiing clothes are less expensive than similar equestrian clothing. Get yourself a fleece lined ski trousers for all around-the-yard activities (or even use them as a before-and-after-lesson over trousers) and you won’t look back. I tried Musto over-trousers (they were admittedly very good for half-a-day but didn’t stand up too well to non-stop British winter rain or Norwegian winter temperatures), some fancy jodhpurs etc etc Nothing beats my ski trousers and I have tested them in pretty extreme conditions!
4) Heated Clothing If your budget stretches comfortably to let you purchase some equestrian specific winter goodies I recommend Exoglo Heated Clothing. You can buy these diamonds at the Altogether Equestrian shop.
A few years ago my clients got together and bought me a heated gilet from another company called Blazerwear, for my birthday. My model isn’t as comprehensively warming as Exoglo but it has been a life saver during many winter teaching hours.
I know that Blazerwear also has heated gloves and socks – now that does sound like a great idea 🙂
5) Good diet – yep, eat well and healthy and half of your mental problems with winter will be the thing of the past.
Finally, have positive people around you…No matter what you do, surround yourself by as many positive people you can. Avoid moaning, always-grumpy folk because especially in the winter, that’s way too much negative energy to deal with. By all means, help those who want to be helped but steer clear from draining people. If you are dealing with any stressful changes in your life or working on something new or are trying to remain positive yourself, find someone with a good sense of humour. Someone you would jump into an ice cold water with just for the experience 😉
Stay warm. Keep Training. Keep smiling 🙂
Oh, and share your winter blues beating tricks in the comments!
- Dear summer, come back – all is forgiven (kickingon.wordpress.com)
- Things Only Equestrian Women Will Understand (aspireequestrian.wordpress.com)
- Equestrian version of eat in and take away…what kind of rider are you? What kind of rider would you like to be? (aspireequestrian.wordpress.com)
- Forget cold: Here’s the real challenge of winter cycling (blogs.calgaryherald.com)
- Crieff Hydro Riding Centre – Winter Riding (crieffhydronews.com)