Winter Activities for You and Your Horse

With an abundance of short days ahead, the winter can seem very long and a reduction in activities and general stimulus can cause horses and ponies (and even their owners!) to become bored and restless.

Help yourself and your horse to shun the winter blues and stay in great physical and mental shape by filling the days and weeks ahead with a variety of fun activities.Here’s a few ideas:

 

Get Some Exercise

Cold, unpleasant weather can mean that horses spend long periods of time in stables, but this can contribute to boredom and more importantly, poor digestive and respiratory health so get outside with your horse as often as possible for some exercise.

Before heading out, take care to protect yourselves from slips and trips by gritting your yard regularly and sweeping up any mud and debris, and remember to dress yourself and your horse or pony appropriately for the conditions.

Before any hacks or arena sessions, allow extra time for a warm-up to limit the risk of any injury.

A turnout or exercise rug will help your horse stay warm and prevent muscle stiffness but if he’s prone to sweating, you may need to clip your horse or dry him thoroughly after exercise to prevent any moisture from lowering his body temperature, causing discomfort or other skin conditions such as rain scald and mud fever.

Socialise

Horses, just like us, are social animals and their grazing time, even in winter fields when the grass is sparse or of poor quality, gives them the opportunity to socialise with other horses so maintain their pasture time as far as possible.

However, your horse needs opportunities to socialise and bond with you too!

Get the best of both worlds by riding out on group hacks or spending time at the yard on wet days to groom, massage, feed and nurture a trusting and positive relationship with your horse.

New Equestrian Skills

If the winter forces you to make significant changes to your horse or pony’s daily routine then boredom can quickly set in, but every horse, regardless of their usual activity levels can benefit from using the spare time to learn new equestrian skills and so can their owners.

If you have suitable indoor space, winter is the ideal time to begin or develop your grooming, dressage, jumping or broaden your knowledge of equine care by completing a formal qualification.

Be Playful

Help your horse to alleviate the stress or boredom caused by hours spent in the stable by providing them with some activity toys.

Heavy-duty play balls that horses can kick or toss around as well as chew toys that can save your wooden fixtures from being gnawed and make great boredom busters.

Combine them with purpose-made feeding toys that make getting at haylage, compound horse feeds, supplements or treats an interesting challenge and your horse or pony will be well occupied.

Much like doubled up haynets, feeding toys slow down your horse’s eating to both satisfy his requirement to chew and ensure that the additional nutrients and energy he needs to maintain a healthy weight and condition during the cold winter months are available.

And now for something completely different… the Booze berry!

Found up anlogod down the country in chic bars, niche suppliers, country events and all over social media, Pinkster Gin has ridden on the crest of the Gin renaissance that sees no sign of slowing down. Distilled in small batches, locally grown raspberries are then hand-steeped in the core spirit at the company’s HQ, local to us, near Cambridge, creating its distinctive colour and flavour. The gin is deliciously dry, with a hint of fruit and an exceptionally smooth finish.pinkster%20gt%202

There’s raspberry on the nose as the juniper comes through and then a slight spice that develops and lingers. For the perfect drink after a long day out with your horses, serve with Fever-Tree tonic, a raspberry and a sprig of well-spanked fresh mint.  Spanking the mint (clapping it in your hands before you place it in the glass on top of the ice) releases the minty aromas!

0000015_boozy-berries_550.pngThe innovation behind Pinkster came about purely by accident when founder Stephen Marsh was experimenting at home and, after working his way through an entire fruit bowl, discovered that raspberry delivered the best flavour. Best of all, the raspberries are recycled, albeit slightly intoxicated (28% proof!), and sold as Boozy Berries.

So aside from eating these fruity gems straight from the jar what else can be done with them? On a wet Saturday afternoon I decided to try out some of my own kitchen experiments, combining flavour ideas suggested to me by my children (who don’t drink Gin I may add…) and my own thoughts on what makes the perfect boozy pudding. What evolved was….

Lemon Curd and Boozy Berry Ice Cream!

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Ingredients

325 g Good Quality Lemon Curd

1 Unwaxed lemon

284 ml Double Cream

250 g Natural Yoghurt

¼ to ½ a Jar of Pinkster Boozy Berries (depending on taste & desired ‘boozyness’)

Mint to Garnish

Method

Finely grate the zest and squeeze the juice from the lemon.

Very lightly whip the cream with an electric or hand whisk until it is just starting to thicken but has not yet formed into stiff peaks.

Using a metal spoon, fold in the lemon zest and juice and yogurt. Gradually fold in the lemon curd then pour into a 1 litre freezer proof tub with lid.

Place in the freezer for 4-5 hours until fully frozen or dig out that really expensive ice cream maker you use about once a year!

Remove the container every hour or so to stir with a fork, making sure the more frozen edges are mixed in. After about 2 hours, when the ice cream is firming up, drain 1/4 to 1/2 a jar of Boozy Berries into a bowl. Crush them lightly with the back of a fork and stir  into the ice cream mix, so they are evenly distributed. Return the container to the freezer for another 2 – 3 hrs to, giving the odd blend to distribute the frozen edges.

To Serve -If making in advance, take out of the freezer and place in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to soften slightly before serving. Garnish with boozy berries, fresh mint and if you feel in the mood a small shot of the Boozy Berry liquor or a well-mixed Pinkster G&T.

Boozy Berries are sold online at www.pinkstergin.com (£6 for a 300g jar) or via select retail outlets – see the website for details.

Many thanks to Pinkster for sending over the Berries & some of their amazing gin for Team B&W to try.