We know lots of you are waiting for the eventing season to start up again. Equine vet Katie Offer pictured here on her 6yo who she competed to BE100 offers some tips to see you through the winter. Katie has competed at Intermediate and 1*.
A break form work in the winter gives your horse time to physically and mentally recover from a busy season. The type of holiday and amount of time off is individual to your horse. For example, young horses that are still growing may benefit from a longer holiday whereas older horses may benefit from being kept in light work to prevent niggles developing. The type of holiday is also individual- some horses do well being roughed off in the field without shoes on, whereas others will be knocking on the gate wanting to come in.
Once my horse is finished their holiday I give them a good of a check over. I feel all over their legs, checking for any lumps and bumps, then give them a thorough trot up and check for lameness. I also check his teeth, back and saddle and make any changes as needed. I like to know that I am starting the season with a fit and well pony!
Winter is a great time to build up a base level of fitness for the year ahead. Hacking is a great way to do this without drilling round in circles in the school. Mixing in as much hill work as possible will help to develop both cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength without hours of work on the roads.
Winter is the time to get your homework done for the next season. I like to pick a particular area that I would like to focus on each winter. For example, this winter with my horse I am aiming to develop his canter particularly as he is a big lad who struggles to maintain connection. I might also try for a couple days hunting to build confidence cross country.
Once my horse is in and fit I intend to get out competing over the winter. It helps keep both me and my boy sane! BS and BD do a winter eventer’s membership that is great to get out and about. A bit of arena eventing will also help me get my cross-country fix. If I am aiming to step up a level next year, then I will make sure that I can jump a round of BS and do a BD test at the required level or higher by the end of winter.
Plan your season
The BE fixture list for 2017 is already out! Get your diary out and get planning. I like to start the season with some aims for the season. I then break them down into smaller short term aims and plan my season from there.
Fix and replace your kit from the last season
If you’re anything like me, various bits of kit will need replacing and/or fixing after last season. Now is the time to do it, before you turn up at your first event of the season and find that your stopwatch is out of battery (…and then miss out on a placing by a couple of time faults, trust me).