I love my horses but I do not love Winter.
On the other hand my daughter loves having horses in Autumn and Winter more than Summer.
Winter and horses require planning, patience and some warm clothing. So I thought I would come and bring you 10 Winter Horse Ownership Tips.
1 . Hat – yes to ride these are important but in winter to keep you warm is just as important. I flit between my bobble hat and my Red Bear Equestrian baseball cap depending on how wet it is. You lose most heat through your head so it makes sense to keep it warm.
2. Get yourself a colander, there is nothing worse than removing ice from water troughs and buckets, so once you have broken it up use a colander to remove broken pieces of ice and keep your hands dry.
3. Keep your padlocks wrapped in plastics bags. Wrap a plastic bag round your padlocks will stop the majority of the water getting in and therefore minimise ice getting in and freezing your locks shut.
4. Don’t always feel you have to ride, a day off when the weather is really miserable or a short lunging session is great for your horse in different ways.
5.Poached fields….who wants to ride in those? Take this opportunity to hack out and introduce your horse to new sights and sounds.
6. To clean or not to clean? Legs of course. Do whatever is right for your horse. Don’t feel pressured. I have had horses I have had to hose off every evening to keep mud fever at bay (make sure the water isn’t to cold or you can cause cracks, although too warm can also be as much of a problem) My current ones need their legs left alone all winter, yes they look a mess but they are healthy, pain free and they don’t care how they look.
7. Lag water pipes or invest in some water containers if your pipes tend to freeze. No water is not what you need on a cold winter morning.
8. Get a slow cooker. Both for you and your horse. Great for making sure you have something warm to eat when you get home but also great to fill with a flask of water and keep it warm for grooming and cleaning off or adding to feed. Plus without the fire risk of a stove or fire.
9. Layers. Several thinner layers will keep you warmer than thicker layers. I am the expert on this spending about 9 months of the year feeling cold. I will often layer our base layers (these are fab as they wick away moisture keeping you dry and warm), with one of our hoodies and finishing with our new bear jacket which in itself is superwarm, windproof and waterproof. I also make sure I have at least two pairs of socks on and tend to use snow boots for around the yard as they are warmer than wellies. Plus I have several pairs of gloves at the yard and in the car so I always have at least one pair to keep me warm.
10. Get prepared, make up feed buckets for the week ahead or make up haynets and hang them ready where they are kept dry. This means one less job when you arrive and the light is quickly disappearing, you are freezing, rushing and you have a horse who wants his tea.
Remember It doesn’t last and summer evenings will be here eventually.