How should I prepare ahead of a hack in the winter?

 Check tack and equipment for any damage,

Check tack and equipment for any damage,

The British Horse Society's Access Executive, Rachel Fraser, explains a few checks you can do before you head out on hack with your horse this winter. 

Check the weather before you set off and wear appropriate clothing, as weather can change quickly. 

Check tack and equipment for any damage, making sure you have everything you need. 

Even if you're hacking off-road, always wear hi-vis to ensure you can be seen in an emergency. This is especially important over winter, when the daylight fades quickly. 

Take a charged mobile phone with you and tell someone the route you're taking, with a rough idea of when you expect to be back. 

Some yards find it useful to keep a map on the wall with regularly ridden routes in case somebody gets into trouble and needs finding. 

Make sure you and your horse are fit enough for a hack and consider taking a map if you're not familiar with the route. 

Ride with caution as conditions can vary dramatically - you could find a route that was lovely last week is flooded following heavy rain, or is blocked by a fallen tree. 

bridleway-sign

Tackling overgrown bridleways 

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it's each local council's responsibility to maintain bridleways to a safe standard. 

Any issues, including bridleways that have become overgrown and difficult to use should be reported to the relevant council's public rights of way department. 

I'd also recommend contacting your local BHS Access and Bridleways Officer who may be able to help you liaise with the council or even organise a clearance party with the council's permission to tackle the overgrowth.

An offer to help clear a route is often appreciated as, with declining budgets, many councils don't have the resources to do so. 

You can find you local officer by visiting the BHS website www.bhs.org.uk/bhs-in-your-area