It’s coming up to that time of the year that all horse owners begrudge. As the long days switch to long nights, as the horses become progressively fluffier and as it slowly becomes impossible to simply hose the sweat from your horse after riding them, it hits a point where as horse owners we have to accept that winter has arrived.
But there are a few things that you can do in the lead up to winter to prepare yourself, and your horse, for the upcoming season.
From checking your rugs are all still in working order, to putting together an emergency set of clothes, here are a few little things you can do to make the transition into winter a little easier…
Seven ways for horse owners to get ready for winter:
Check your horse’s rugs
Many horse owners choose to clip their horses during winter; a decision that often seems bizarre for non-horsey people, it’s one that horse owners across the board understand is necessary as horses become fluffier and it becomes important to avoid them catching a chill from the sweat they produce whilst they are being ridden.
However, clipping means you then need to rug your horse. If you’re not one of those organised owners who gets their winter rugs washed, reproofed and repaired as we come into Spring, then now is the time to get all of the above done. It might seem like a faff now but it will reduce those panicked moments when you go to grab a rug you need for your horse, only to find that a mouse has chewed threw the lining whilst it has been packed away.
Get bedding, hay and feed in ready
If you keep your horse on a livery yard, chances are that turnout is reduced during the winter months. Which means that after a long summer of the horses living out in the fields 24/7, you suddenly find yourself needing to purchase bedding, hay and feed again. Save yourself the stress of having to get it all in last minute and start slowly getting in a few extra bales ahead of the transition.
Tidy your stable
If your stable has sat empty for the best part of the past few months, now is the time to turn your attention to it. From brushing away the cobwebs that have multiplied in the corner of the stable, to giving the floor a good disinfect, checking your water buckets haven’t got any holes in them. It’s far easier to get all of these little tasks completed without having to work around the times your horse is in their stable, so the earlier you get this done the better!
Make sure your lights are working
Whether you're using a headtorch to help with those inevitable times when you find yourself poo-picking in the dark, or you're strapping them to your horse when you go hacking after work, you need to check they're still working before you find yourself needing to use them.
Get your hi-vis washed and ready
The fading light and the impending clock change means that many horse riders find themselves having to ride in less than favourable conditions after work. Get all of your hi-vis out now and give it a good wash to make sure it is as bright as it can be. It’s also the perfect time to work out if anything needs replacing or if you’re missing anything from your collection to ensure that you can be seen as well as possible when you’re out riding your horse during winter.
Have an emergency change of clothes ready
There is nothing worse than getting soaked during a ride in the middle of winter, only to then remember that you still need to do your stable before you can go home. Put together a spare change of clothes and have it either in your car or stored somewhere at the yard so that on those days when you find yourself soaked through to the skin, or covered in mud, you can quickly change into a new set of clothes.
Dig out your waterproofs
Finally, if like me, at the start of summer you threw your waterproof clothes to the back of your wardrobe and forgot about them, you’re going to want to dig them out and make sure they are stored at the yard again pretty soon. From your trusty old wellies, to your favourite long wax coat, they're essential items for horse owners during winter.
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