As the colder weather and darker nights set in a lot of horse riders start losing their motivation to ride.
But, like any outdoor sport, the correct gear will make getting you and your horse through the winter fit and healthy so much easier.
Even in cold weather you will find yourself getting hot while out riding. Wearing appropriate layers that will protect you from the wind, rain and cold but can easily be removed if too warm will make winter riding much more enjoyable.
It is important to wear layers that are effective whilst adding as little bulk as possible, as too much bulk will restrict your movement and impair your riding.
A moisture wicking, long sleeved top makes for an excellent base-layer. Cover this with a vest to keep your core warm or a long sleeved fleece if needed. Finally, wear a good coat to give protection from wind and rain.
There are now many different options for thermal and fleece lined riding pants made from water resistant fabric. These pants retain all the features you love, like grippy full seats and knees, whilst shielding you from the weather.
Cold winter temperatures mean you will need to account for extra warm up and cool down time when planning your rides.
Cold muscles are more likely to tear and a hot, sweaty horse being turned out in the chilled air is more prone to illness.
If you are short on time it is better to reduce the intensity of work so that your horse does not sweat than to neglect a proper cool down.
Never put a sweaty horse back into his paddock, especially in wet and cold conditions. Use a cooler rug over the haunches while walking for 10 to 20 minutes to wick away sweat. If necessary towel any remaining sweat off before rugging and turning your horse back out.
If your horse is used to being rugged then consider keeping a quarter sheet on when you ride to keep his muscles warm and dry.
A quarter sheet with fluorescent strips also provides extra hazard protection if you are riding on the roads in darker winter weather.
If your horse is going to be in consistent heavy work over the colder months then clipping is an excellent option. There are a range of clip styles to choose from depending on the level of work.
By removing the long coat from chest, belly, neck and rump areas you reduce the risk of the horse getting chilled from sweat, reduce your cool down time and it also helps to keep your horse cleaner and tidier.
Make sure you rug appropriately after clipping as their natural insulation has been removed.
Metals can get very cold in winter temperatures and your horse will find having it placed straight into his sensitive mouth uncomfortable.
You can warm up the bit before putting on the bridle. Rub it between your hands or wrap it in a warm gel pack for a few minutes to bring it up to a more comfortable temperature.