Make Winter Easy on Yourself!Winter’s got a foot in the door; the days are drawing in, the clocks have gone back and you’ll soon be slogging through icy mud to tend your equine friends.
Don’t give in to despair … spring will be back before you know it! Meanwhile, you can make the drudgery of the winter months as bearable as possible by making some timely preparations.
Here are some suggestions to help conquer the cold spell ahead …
Your horse is going to be spending more time stabled in the coming months, so his indoor space needs to be clean, dry, comfortable and a healthy environment.
PUT THE STABLE IN ORDER
Start with a deep clean, stripping it out thoroughly, and disinfect the floors and walls with a good scrub or pressure wash. A closed, damp environment can increase the risk of infections like thrush, or respiratory problems, so get rid of all the bacteria.
Make sure there is adequate ventilation and that you can open windows and doors. You may feel chilly indoors but horses are more comfortable with low temperatures and will be healthier with some airflow while confined.
Pay attention to insulating the water supply and containers. Horses drink twice as much in the winter as they do in summer, so the last thing you want is for pipes and water buckets to freeze. Lag pipes, check any water heater you might have to ensure it works properly, and protect water buckets in rubber tyres with a football popped on the surface to prevent ice forming.
SAFEGUARD THE YARD
You know from experience that you’ll soon be facing a waterlogged yard, that will eventually become icy and hazardous for you and your horse, particularly if it snows. Lay in a stock of supplies of salt, sand and clay litter to sprinkle around the yard when conditions deteriorate.
Make sure you have a good snow shovel and a strong, bright torch ready for the consequences of any heavy snow storm. We always like to say the golden rule is to expect and prepare for the worst, and then hopefully nothing will be as bad as one expects!
If you put off sorting and assessing the state of your winter horse rugs when you put them away in the spring you’ll now have to play catch up! If your stock of stable or heavy turnout rugs can last another season, they’ll doubtless need mending, reproofing and/or washing. This is best done professionally, unless you have the required equipment to hand like spare rug clips, buckles and surcingles as well as reproofing spray.
(Totally Tack has a rug rescue service available – just drop your rugs off at our shop in Frome, Somerset).
If you need replacement or new winter rugs for your horse, best source these as soon as possible before they’re all sold out.
Make a careful inventory of your feed and supplement stocks, medications, first aid supplies, grooming equipment and everything else you are likely to need. Make sure they are replenished sufficiently to see you through a spell of bad weather when it may not be possible to get supplies in.
Remember as the temperature decreases, your horse’s calorie intake will increase to compensate, so ensure you have enough hay and perhaps some commercial feed to add variety to the diet.
SUIT AND BOOT UPOnce you’ve prepared your horse for the worst of winter, it’s a good idea to consider your own comfort! Being dressed to withstand the chill in the right sort of clothing and footwear makes having to muck out freezing stalls that much easier!
Feet are extremely important. Treat yourself to a pair of top quality yard boots and some pairs of thermal socks.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT OVER-WINTERING YOUR HORSE, WE HAVE A WEALTH OF EXPERIENCE AND ACADEMIC EQUINE KNOW-HOW .... GIVE US A CALL ON 01373 22 8242 AND WE'LL BE HAPPY TO HELP!!