4 Horsey Jobs to do in May
For me, May is a month of two halves: on the one hand it’s about saying goodbye to winter rugs and on the other about preparation for the onslaught of summer flies, healthy hooves and bathing my horse. With that in mind, here are the jobs I'm doing this month...
Ne'er cast a clout till May be out
What is it they say about the month of May? “Ne'er cast a clout till May be out”. I apply this old English proverb when planning the washing of my horse’s rugs, i.e. I don’t get any of them cleaned until the end of May! The correct cleaning of any fabric that comes into contact with your horse is an important part of good hygiene, which is essential for his well being. Not only does accumulated dirt reduce the effectiveness of a rug, it can also lead to unpleasant skin conditions. Do bear in mind though, washing your medium weight turnout rug in your washing machine at home will not achieve the same result as if it’s professionally washed as it’s really a specialist job that requires the right technology and wash programmes.
Most equestrians think that the flies get worse every year and that’s probably going to be the case this year given that we had another mild winter. So dealing with flies will be made all the more easy with the right kit. So get your fly mask and rug out from last year and check that they’re clean and intact. Consider replacing them if they’re torn or ripped. Wash them if you need to just as you would a dirty rug, otherwise they will simply attract flies. Make sure you’ve got fly repellent too so that you can use it when the hot weather actually arrives, or you may need to squeeze in some unplanned shopping!
Let bathing commence
Although bathing a horse is not technically challenging, a few tools make the job immeasurably easier and quicker. So ensure you’ve got everything you need for the washing and the drying process before you make a start. A curry comb will loosen the dirt and sweat up from your horse’s coat and will enable the shampoo to get right down to the skin, while sparing your fingernails! A grooming mitt also does the job.
A sweat scraper is a must for bathing. Don't be fooled by the name as you can use it to scrap off all the excess water. A few soft sponges are also helpful for delicate places such as the face.
However before you even think about bathing him, check the weather forecast first and think about the best time of day to cover him with cold water!
As long as your horse's hooves are in good condition to begin with, believe it or not, they should cope very well with hot and dry conditions. However, what horses find much harder to cope with is continual changes in climate and temperatures - that's to say from one weather extreme to the other, where conditions are terribly wet and then incredibly dry only to have to deal with wet conditions once again. Therefore, long hot summers are, in fact, far less challenging when it comes to hoof health. The problem is that a typical UK summer usually consists of damp, warm spells paired with intermittent downpours!
If problems do start to occur, consider using a hoof care product. Do bear in mind that hoof varnishes restrict the foot's natural ability of regulating humidity, whereas a hoof hardener will help to protect a weaker hoof against changes in the weather. The best products to use contain naturally produced substances, with lanolin being the ideal choice. Lanolin acts as a much needed barrier whilst at the same time enhancing moisture levels in the hoof.
Over to you!
Do you have any horsey rituals you follow at this time of year? Share them in the comments below, you never know your tip may just help someone else!