Schooling Your Horse Over Autumn & Winter
All things must come to an end and unfortunately that includes summer. Summer is full of fun with lots of shows and competitions and nice weather for hacking. That being said, you can get loads of riding done when summer comes to a close. Autumn and winter can actually be the best time of year to focus and improve your horse’s way of going and your own riding. Plus a good ride is sure to warm you up if the temperature drops! See this blog as a bit of a checklist of exactly what you’ll need for schooling your horse this autumn.
This is an obvious place to start. You’ll definitely be needing tack for schooling your horse. We’re not saying you should go out and buy a new saddle every year but be sure to regularly check the condition of your tack. Make sure you keep your tack in dry place. When the weather gets cold and wet it can make storage areas damp which isn’t good for leather. Consider keeping your tack in a heated area or even purchase some dehumidifiers (you can get some fairly cheap ones) to remove some of the moisture in the air. You may also want to store your tack in storage bags such as bridle bags and saddle bags or use a saddle cover for extra protection. You can even get ride-on saddle covers perfect for both storage and to protect your saddle from the elements when you’re schooling your horse.
If you think your tack is in need of a replacement (or you just want some shiny new tack) think about what tack your horse needs. Obviously a saddle is important. You could go the whole of autumn and winter riding bareback and have the balance of a gymnast and the legs of a body builder by the end of it but we know that’s not for everyone! You’ll also need a bridle. The shape of a noseband can be quite important. There are so many options from plain cavesson nosebands to anatomically design nosebands. If your horse opens his mouth and/or crosses his jaw to try to take control while you’re riding you may want to consider something with a flash, a grackle shaped noseband or similar designs. Also think about if you will want a martingale or breastplate. A martingale can be useful on horses who have a tendency to bring there head up too high (please note putting a martingale on is not an easy fix for getting your horse to work ‘in an outline.’ That’s where the schooling comes in!). A breastplate is generally used for jumping or cross country and helps to prevent the saddle slipping. You can choose if you want one with a martingale attachment or not.
Numnahs & Saddle Pads:
This is the fun bit! You may have had a summer of competing or showing and so you’ve been using plain white saddle pads or plain brown numnahs. Well, while schooling your horse at home you can have loads of fun with colour. Maybe your horse has their own colour scheme or you just want to pick your own favourite colour. If you head to www.naylors.com you can filter by colour on the left hand side of the pages so you can pick your perfect saddle pad. Another thing to consider is what shape you’d like. You’ll want a shape to fit your saddle. ‘General purpose’ or ‘all purpose’ shapes are a good starting point. If you have a dressage saddle you may want more of a a straight cut square shape. If your saddle is very forward cut you’ll want a jumping shape. . You may want to opt for a numnah and not a saddle pad, think of it as less material for getting dirty and covered in hair. Whichever shape you choose be sure to have more than one to hand so that when one is in the wash/drying you can use the other.
Whether your horse is clipped over autumn and winter or even if not and the temperatures just drop you may want to consider an exercise sheet. This is a small rug that covers the hind quarters. This can help to keep your horse warm which can help with the warming up of muscles over the back and in the hind quarters. You may also want to opt for a waterproof option to keep your horse dry if you often ride outside. What’s even better is that you can get hi-vis options perfect for hacking out. These are great for visibility year round (you always need hi-vis when riding out) but we’d highly recommend them when the mornings and nights are darker and the weather is colder. You can even get designs that are reflective but aren’t in fluorescent colours (such as the Night Rider pictured below). These are great if you want to use them for both hacking and schooling but your horse is too fashion conscious to wear in hi-vis while working in an arena.
Boots & Bandages:
It’s important not to forget leg protection when schooling your horse. To start with think about the sort of work your horse does. Do they do lots of flat work? You may want to consider brushing boots, support wraps or bandages. These protect your horses legs from scrapes and some impact. If your horse is prone to brushing their legs together when working you’ll want to use boots for schooling but even if not it’s recommended you use them for any lunging you do. If your horse is prone to over reaching you will want some over reach boots. These will offer protection to the horse but can also help to prevent shoes being caught and loosened. If your horse does jumping schooling you’ll want some tendon and fetlock boots. These offer support to the tendons in the legs but can also protect from impact too. There are so many options when it comes to horse boots that we can’t mention all of them. Each boot is designed for a purpose so it is important to buy boots appropriate to the work your horse does.
So now you’ve got everything you need to make the most of your riding over autumn and winter! If there’s anything you still need be sure to head to www.naylors.com or visit one of our stores to get kitted out. This time of year can be perfect for really focusing on small goals without a heavy focus on particular competitions or shows. That being said, you may be able to find the ocasional indoor competition over the cooler months if you want to show off how well you’ve been doing with schooling your horse.
We’d love to see pictures of your horse’s schooling wardrobes, why not share a picture with us on social media using @naylorsonline.