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Tips for Winter Driving

Winter driving conditions...

... can be rather challenging for a whip. Read below about tips for winter driving.

We have to face cold temperatures, rain-, snow- or even icy rainfall, it is getting earlier dark and road surfaces can be icy at various points and becoming all of a sudden slippery. Car drivers might not see you in time and need longer to react and the vehicles might behave different on slippery roads. Keep in mind that service vehicles, like salting- or ploughing vehicles will be around.On snowy winter roads you should consider to use a sleigh instead of a carriage.


You will soon feel pretty cold. Sitting on a carriage or sleigh without a possibility of moving much around, will "freeze" your muscles through soon. Always wear warm clothing and a warm apron or blanket. Bear in mind to keep apron or blanket and reins well sorted and seperate from each other.Keep especially an eye on your extremities: wear warm winter boots and driving gloves, which are suitable for low temperatures and driving. Protect your head, ears (and face, if necessary) with warm gear. In the UK you can see drivers wearing yellow or orange reflecting safety jackets: they are very warm and waterproof and you are really good visible for others. Also are they very handy, as you have enough pockets and zips to store necessary things, like e.g. a mobile phone. And,l ike always: never drive without a groom.

The Horse

Be sure to have control over him at all time. He should be experienced and calm, and not be bothered by bad weather, snow or cars/lorries passing by and splashing water. Avoid driving in a speedy pace and returning with a horse sweated through. Drivers who use their horses regularly shave them partly. The horse can dry up and their fur be kept tidy a lot easier. If the horse is shoed, make sure they are suitable for winter conditions. Winter roads can be tricky. Also remember that snow might build up under the hoof sole. For better visibility you can put reflective bandages or safety blankets on.

The Harness

Make sure it is tidy and well oiled (leather harness) before you harness up. See here for details of harness care.That means, that after every carriage or sleigh ride wash (and oil) it and examine it thoroughly for defects and where necessary, repair them instantly. Get rid of sweat- and salt marks, which can destroy leather or even synthetic material and make sure there is no dirt left on surfaces touching the horse's skin.

The Vehicle

The best tips for winter driving are not helping, if you and your vehicle are lacking in visibility.You need to be well visible for others, reflectors (white to the front, red to the back) will help a lot. You need also suitable lamps. Be aware that in winter conditions people will see you later or very late. Make sure all functions are o.k. and working well. After your ride clean the vehicle thoroughly to avoid corrosion and malfunction of parts, like e.g. the steering, the brakes, weight-bearing parts or mechanisms for trace fixation. On a carriage with rubber tires check the profile of the tires, on a sleigh make sure the sled runners are in good working order.

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