The winter months tend to make owning a horse or running a yard hard work. With shorter daylight hours, cold temperatures, rainy days and muddy fields. It is important to be organised and ready for any type of weather that could impact and affect the management of our horses. Sunshine, rain or snow, we know that yard duties are daily so follow the THEx guide in how to be prepared for winter.
1) Yard – Start your winter preparations early by having a look around the yard and fixing all the jobs that you have been putting off!
- Check the door fittings and replace any damaged hinges and bolts
- Change any light bulbs that need replacing
- Keep a torch with batteries on the yard in case the electricity goes out
- Check and clear the gutters and downpipes to allow for an increase in rainfall or snow
- Have a tidy out of your tack room and store room and put any unwanted tack and accessories on THEx for free.
- Think about insulting your taps and pips ready for when the weather turns colder.
- Levelling the sandschool regularly can help to prevent it from freezing
- Pack away any poles and jumps that are not in regular use and try to raise them off the floor so that they do not collect leaves and rot.
- Fill a bucket with grit or salt that can be spread across the yard to prevent ice forming
2) Stables – it is likely that your horses will spend more time in their stables over winter than during the summer months, so it is important to check them before the horses come in.
- Check the stables are in good condition, that there are no leaks in the roof and the doors and fittings can still be secured
- Lift, clean and replace any rubber matting to make it easier to muck out
- Ensure that even if it freezes your horse has access to a clean water supply by insulating supply pipes
3) Field – if you are still able to turn your horses out during winter think about avoiding the mud now by making the following preparations.
- Have some hardcore delivered, or paddock mats on flat ground, and lay it down in field entrances, gates and walkways which are likely to get muddy
- Rotate your field turnout. Pastures cannot survive continuous grazing when soft ground under foot.
- If ice forms in the water troughs, ensure you break the ice and remove it to delay the water from freezing too quickly again.
4) Horse – your horses also need to get ready for the colder months
- Stock up on winter supplies. Fill your yard up with more feed, hay and bedding as it is likely the horses will be in their stables more during the winter period
- Water – ensure that weather the horses are turned out or stables that they always have access to fresh water. Check daily to ensure that it hasn’t frozen over
- Rugs – if your horse is clipped then they are likely to need rugs for the winter. If you need rugs cleaning or mending before the winter, then THEx would advise speaking to one of our horse laundry partners THEx Business Directory. They offer an efficient and affordable horse rug laundry service. They can also collect and deliver your rugs straight to your yard!
- Keep the horses moving – even if it snows. Horses are used to living outside so make sure that they have the time to be ‘horses’ weather they are put on the horse walker, lunged, turned out or ridden. However, be cautious when riding in snow in case it is slippery or their hooves become compacted with snow.
5) Horsebox / Trailer – your transport also needs to survive the winter!
- If you have the facilities store your horsebox or trailer undercover to prevent them from being damaged by the weather.
- Maintenance checks on the horsebox, such as topping up the oil and tyre pressures can allow for safer journeys for both you and your horse.
- When you are transporting your horse, make sure that you have supplies in either the car or horsebox in case you breakdown or your journey is delayed.
Finally, don’t forget to prepare yourself for the cold winter days! Reacquaint yourself with your waterproof coat and find your woolly hat and gloves. Maybe even treat yourself to some new boots to keep your feet warm and dry. Lastly take your kettle to the yard. From bathing the horses to a hot cup of coffee (Baileys works as a great milk alternative…) a kettle is a key part of your horse winter survival kit!