6 horsey jobs to do in December
Bang on queue for 1st December, freezing temperatures have arrived! And although winter is only one of the seasons, most horse owners spend nine months of the year getting ready for it, getting through it, and getting over it! It’s the hardest and most unpleasant time of year for owners. However, it can be made easier and more bearable with good preparation. So here’s 6 jobs you need to start planning to ensure a stress free December…
“Winter-proof” your yard
Have a good look round your yard to identify what, if any, repairs need to be done. Pay particular attention to fencing as you won’t be able to replace fence posts if the ground is frozen.
Insulate water pipes so that you’ll still have a continuous supply of cold water. If this isn’t possible, water pipes will freeze, so you’ll need to work out how a cold water supply can be provided. At our yard we have a huge bath that is filled up during the day, when the pipes thaw. It’s then covered at night to stop it freezing.
Ensure that plenty of salt or “grit” is available to use in well-trodden routes on the yard, i.e. turn-out routes to and from the field. “Grit” is basically rock salt and it is this that prevents ice from forming in the first place.
Think about what kit you’ll need to get through the winter months. For example, if you need to restrict the grass intake for a laminitic-prone horse, ensure you’ve got the means to do so, i.e. the poles and tape. Also if your water feeders in your stable or fields freeze, ensure that you’ve got sufficient water buckets to hand and that they’re clean and ready to use. Planning for these scenarios in advance will take some of the stress out of them when they occur.
Bulk buy essentials
If you have the room to store larger quantities of bedding, hay, straw and feed, ask your yard mates if they want to do a joint order with you. Compare prices before you place an order as some retailers offer a discount for bulk buying, so you could shave a few pounds off your bill.
Get your horse’s teeth checked
Teeth need to be checked every six months. Now is the perfect time to get them checked to ensure that your horse can chew and digest his food properly. This means that he’ll absorb the maximum amount of nutrients when he needs them the most.
Sort out your winter wardrobe
You’re just as important as your horse! Whilst it’s vital that your horse is warm and dry this winter, it’s equally important that your own winter wardrobe is ready and, ideally, before the weather changes.
Invest in a good base layer, such as the Noble Equestrian Hailey Long Sleeved Crew Riding Top. It’s Opti-Dry technology wicks away moisture to keep you dry and warm. Make sure you have other winter riding must haves such as good winter gloves, gilets and a decent waterproof jacket to hand.
And finally…allow more time
When it’s cold and/or wet, horsey jobs seem to take longer, don’t they?! So avoid putting yourself under too much pressure and allow more time to do your daily chores. So the first job for any owner on a cold morning is to break ice on water troughs and buckets. Horses can actually drink more in the winter, especially as they’re probably eating much more dry hay, rather than grass – which is around 80% water. The water trough is right at the bottom of my horse’s field. So every day now, I know I need to allow time to walk all the way down(groan!) to the bottom of the field to see if it’s frozen or not.
Do you have any tips to share? Tell me in the comments below and I'll add them to the blog!