Three things to remember when hacking during winter

Winter can be a great time to spend some quality time out on your horse, taking in the fresh air and enjoying the winter sun and morning frosts. But here are some things you'll want to bear in mind before you get into the saddle.

Plan your route 
Make sure you plan your route before heading out with your horse. This will allow you to predict what to expect and to avoid any hazardous areas such as busy roads or road works. You should also consider the time of day you will be hacking. Pay attention to when the roads will be at their busiest. Will you be passing a school during home time or will it be dark? Tell somebody where you are going and roughly how long you think you will be out and take your mobile phone. These are all things to plan before setting out on a hack.

Correct clothing
Wearing the correct clothing whilst hacking is vital. You and your horse will be exposed to the elements and may be riding through poor weather conditions. Always wear gloves when hacking as your hands can become cold quickly, ensure that you wear comfortable, warm clothes that are suitable for the weather conditions. Reduced light can occur during the day so always make sure both you and your horse wear reflective clothing that can be seen from above as well as from all angles when hacking. This will make you visible to other road users and pedestrians, and; should you need assistance you can be easily seen by your Hi Viz clothing. A medical arm band is also a consideration to wear whilst you are out on your hack. At Church Equestrian, we have a wide range of quality gloves and cold clothing options to help keep you warm whilst riding.

Consider an exercise sheet for cold weather riding, there are many options available from jersey to waterproof and reflective sheets that will keep your horse warm in the cold weather.

If you will be riding in the rain it is advisable that you use rubber grip reins to prevent your hands from slipping. Always ensure that your tack is in good condition and fits correctly before heading off on your ride. We have a highly experienced team that can help you with any queries and to find everything you need to enjoy hacking in the winter.

Road etiquette
Before heading out on to the road with your horse, ensure that you know how to ride on the road safely. Treat all other road users with respect by thanking them if they slow down and pass you by responsibly. Doing this will encourage the use of good etiquette by all road users. You should only go where you have a right of way or where you personally, or all riders have permission to be.

If you are not sure how to ride on the road safely, make sure you seek advice before setting out, learn basic road skills and hand signals, and get some practice in before riding alone. Like all activities with horses taking the time and effort to school your horse is beneficial and can make for a more pleasurable experience in the saddle whilst out hacking. Making this effort will create a much better bond with your horse and you will be contributing to both his physical and mental welfare.

(Photo Credit : sami73 @ Flickr)