Winter doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. What could be more joyful than a yard full of warm, cosy, happy horses, whilst the surrounding landscape is covered in frost? That said the winter months tend to make owning a horse or running a yard hard work. So, it’s important to be organised and ready for whatever the weather throws at us. Here are some top tips to get you through the cold, dark and muddy days.
- Check and change any light bulbs that need replacing. Keep a torch with batteries handy just in case of power cuts.
- Check doors and gate latches and hinges, battling with a wonky gate or door in freezing temperatures is not fun!
- Clear gutters, downpipes and drains so that rain or snow doesn’t cause the yard to flood
- Have some grit or sand handy to spread across the yard to prevent ice forming and limit the risk of you, or your horse slipping.
- If you haven’t done so already, repair any leaking roofs without delay.
- Make sure your taps and pipes are insulated so that they don’t freeze and your horse always has access to clean water.
- Care for your tack – Carr & Day & Martin have a fantastic range of products for both daily use and intensive protection.
- Tidy up; put away unneeded tack and equipment. Remember to store any wooden jumps or poles that are not in regular use so they don’t rot.
- Make sure your first aid kit is fully stocked and easily accessible, rooting through cupboards or piles of rugs to find it in an emergency is less than ideal.
- If your horse is living out, or spends a lot of time turned out, it can be a good idea to try to create a dry standing area by using gravel or mats, so they can get out of the wet mud for at least part of the day.
- Fields can take a real hammering in wet weather so try to minimize poaching where possible. Rotating your fields, or if you don’t have multiple fields, try dividing your field into smaller areas so that you can rotate your horse from one section to another.
- Check water troughs at least twice daily in very cold weather, breaking and removing any ice that has formed.
- Stock up on feed, hay and bedding as your horse may need more over the colder months.
- Monitor your horse’s weight and condition regularly and adjust their feed if needed. Our handy body condition scoring guide is available here.
- If your horse is living in, make sure they get out of their stable each day. If you cannot ride or turn them out, try lunging or loose schooling them.
- Organise rugs: hopefully, by now you’ve already cleaned and repaired any damage to the rugs your horse may need over the next few months. When not in use, ensure your winter rugs are folded or hung up to eliminate the risk of them being trodden on, caught or ripped.
- If you clip your horse, make sure your clippers are oiled and sharpened regularly.
- Look after your horse’s hooves, as they have to deal with adverse conditions such as wet, muddy fields and hard frozen or snow covered ground. We recommend using Carr & Day & Martin Cornucrescine range of products to keep your horse’s hooves healthy.
- Keep an eye out for mud fever. If your horse is prone to this condition using Foran Equine M.R.S Ointment is an excellent moisture barrier ointment, plus is contains the natural antiseptic, tea tree oil, to aid skin restoration.
- If you have the facilities, store your horsebox undercover to prevent it being damaged by the weather.
- Even if you don’t plan to use your horsebox much over the winter it’s essential that you carry out any maintenance (oil, type pressure etc) as you never know when you might need it.
- When travelling with your horse make sure that you have supplies just in case you breakdown or your journey is delayed.
Finally, don’t forget to prepare yourself! Have a kettle on the yard; from washing horses, defrosting pipes to making a hot cup of tea or coffee a kettle is a winter survival essential! If you haven’t done so already, wash and reproof your waterproof clothing. Maybe even treat yourself to a new padded jacket, hat or boots; we have lots to choose from.
Winter can seem never-ending but hopefully these tips will help make life a little easier and failing that remember it’s just a few more months before the spring, and horseflies, are back!