Learning to ride – In the snow
Winter can be an enchanting time of year and a winter getaway can prove to be a magical adventure, taking in the best the season has to offer. There are a number of horse riding destinations that can be relied upon to provide the fairy tale white blankets of snow, from Finland, Norway and Sweden in Europe to Canada in North America.
Learning to ride is something that most children embrace with enthusiasm, however for adults who have never ridden before it can seem a daunting prospect.
For some, simply walking in the snow is supremely challenging, so riding a four-legged creature must be terribly difficult, surely?
Well, no. Horses and ponies are the original four-wheel drive vehicle, they go where land rovers fear to tread. These horses and ponies are bred for their environment and know their job, you will be surprised at just how sure-footed they are. The breeds used for riding in these parts of the world are typically smaller and stockier in build, with plenty of hair for warmth!
Many are kept ‘barefoot’, meaning they do not have horseshoes and can utilise their natural hoof structure to help them balance on the slippery ground. Those that do have shoes have a specially designed variety that feature extra metal hooks, similar in function to studs on football boots, designed to give them extra grip.
Many riders and horse owners use Vaseline or grease to coat the base of their horses’ hooves and so prevent the snow balling up inside, which can otherwise cause a build up of stilt-like icy snow.
Riding allows you to access areas which would otherwise be unreachable during long periods of cold weather. This opens up a world of unblemished beauty, impassable by motor vehicles and beyond the reach of even the most dedicated hikers.
Once you’ve got the hang of holding your reins and are feeling balanced in the saddle, you will be able to relax and chat to your riding companions while taking in the view.
The back of a sturdy horse or pony can even provide a base from which you can take photographs of the plants, animals and landscapes around you.
Even for those who have never sat on a horse before, a winter riding holiday opens up a new world of destinations and possibilities. Time spent with the family taking on new adventures will form lifelong memories for children and adults alike, while single travellers will be able to learn a new skill and have stories to tell upon their return.