Updated: May 29
It is widely believed that owning a horse is an extremely expensive and time-consuming hobby. Depending on the type of horse(s) you own and the activities you get involved with, there are varying levels of truth in that thought.
For example, if you have a ‘happy hacker’ that is content on living out all year, going on a few hacks each week and munching away in a field of grass, your time and energy expenditure will be on the lower end of the scale.
Contrast that with an eventer that needs stabling to keep them clean, special supplements to keep them calm, and exercising every day of the week and your life will no doubt be much harder!
Owning a horse has its ups and downs, good days and bad, and much of that is influenced by the seasons. I conducted a survey to find out the challenges horse owners face throughout the four seasons, as well as the positives they enjoy from spending time with their best friends. Check out the results below!
The main challenges horse owners face in spring are managing increasing grass levels, keeping horses safe, sane and trim with all that fresh, sweet grass, and playing musical rugs with the changeable weather! While horses love all the new grass, owners often worry about their horses putting on too much weight or suffering from laminitis or colic.
On the other hand, spring also brings lighter evenings, warmer weather and more opportunities to ride. Owners get to spend more time with their horses and enjoy the beautiful scenery of our countryside.
My favourite response: ‘Turning them out without a rug for their first naked roll of the season.’
The number one challenge owners have in summer is flies! Horse flies and midges are out in full force and irritate horses and people alike. Heat, burnt noses and hard ground also pose problems during this season.
The positives of summer include being able to give them a bath in the warm weather, summer showing and competitions, spending long days together, and no mud!
My favourite response: ‘She’s clean! And being able to go out in a t-shirt and shorts and not be cold or come back drenched!’
Autumn brings about a range of dilemmas such as when to clip before winter, when to start rugging, how much grazing to save for the winter months and balancing increasing feeds without over-feeding. Changing temperatures and nights drawing in mean we’re getting closer to winter, which is undoubtedly the least popular season.
There are still things to be positive about in autumn, though – cooler rides, hacking through woodland with its beautiful autumnal colours, and the flies disappear! The softer ground is great for fun rides and hacking, and there is still just enough time to ride in the evenings after work.
My favourite response: ‘Cantering through the woods, kicking up the leaves under the setting sun!’
Finally we come to winter. Unsurprisingly, nobody voted winter as their favourite season in the last question of the survey! The responses were evenly split between the other three seasons, but winter scored a big fat zero!
Wet, cold weather, short days, the risk of snow, and both horses and owners being caked in mud mean that winter tends to suck, hard! Owners worry about mud fever, keeping weight on, finding a rug that keeps them warm enough but not too warm, and more stable time meaning more mucking out.
But there are some nice things about winter, promise! More ground work and trick training helps to build the relationship between horse and rider, hacking on a cold frosty morning, and tucking them up nice and cosy in their stables.
My favourite responses – I loved both of these and can certainly relate to the second one!
‘When they are all in, snuggled in deep straw, munching on hay. Last thing at night... all quiet except for their munching and breathing.’
‘She’s always happy to see me because I will have food!’
Thank you to everyone who took part in the survey – your responses were really helpful in putting together this article.
If you’re thinking about buying a horse or getting involved in sharing a pony, think about the positives and negatives you may experience and whether you could cope! As a horse owner myself, I believe the positives will always outweigh the negatives – even in the worst weather, with mud up to your knees and your fingers freezing despite your gloves, a cuddle with your best friend makes everything better.