In the Saddle: Top tips to survuve winter

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It's the worse time of the year for every equestrian. Cold, dark nights and often no chance to ride. Christmas is over and we have months to get through before spring is on the way. So, how can we survive?

First thing is to remember it's not going to last forever. It's easy to get bogged down in muddy gates (trust me, we have lost our fair share of wellies this winter) and feel you're forever in the dark but it is only seasonal. Lighter nights are on their way.

With less turnout available cut down stable dust by using good quality hay and dust-free bedding. Ensure the stables are well ventilated and horses are turned out to minimise stable coughs,colic and stretch their legs. Even if it is restricted grazing.

Restrict food intake if you can't turnout due to bad weather. No-one likes a fizzy horse leaping about on the roads.

Rugs are a great time saver for the busy equestrian enabling you to reduce time grooming and more time in the saddle. We all know that time spent in the saddle is good for the soul sending feel-good endorphins around our brain.

Use only one of your paddocks in the winter. Sacrificing one prevents all your fields being ruined. Using sand or woodchip in gateways helps.

Using a good body spray such as Absorbine show sheen on legs, manes and tails does help flick mud off easier.

Have two pairs of gloves-one which are waterproof and thermal for yard jobs and picking muddy hooves out (I love the Le Mieux ones) then a warm winter pair for riding only.

Use a hoof pick to smash through ice in water troughs. I've tried the ball in the trough idea, it is useless.

Stuff all your hay nets at the weekend to save time in the week. Put on music - it doesn't seem such a bad task.

Finally invest in thermal breeches to keep warm. Musto Snugs are well worth the £100 investment. Trust me on this. Roll on spring.