The nights are drawing in, the temperature is beginning to fall... we're heading for that time of year again! Winter can be a challenge for the most dedicated of horse owners, so we've put together a few simple winter time saving tips for the horse owner, to make the season a little more bearable.
- If you don't have time for a full schooling session, or it's too dark or icy for roadwork, a short 20 minutes on the lunge can help your horse stay fit and will allow him to stretch his legs.
- Invest in a quantity of 5 or 6 haynets. Fill them up in advance on a Sunday to save time during the week!
- Develop a rota system. Get together with other horse owners on the yard and draw up a rota to turn out and bring in for each other on set days.
- Keep an eye on the weather forecast and make sure you have a supply of rock salt on hand for those slippery concrete walkways.
- Buy a set of overalls, available online or from most agricultural suppliers and farm stores. These can go straight over your day clothes and save you getting changed.
- Buy a cheap plastic ball to place in water-troughs. This doesn't always prevent freezing if the temperatures really plummet but it can certainly help allow your horse access to drinking water.
- Keep a torch and a spare set of batteries in your car for checking your horse over in the field. Wind-up or LED lanterns are also great to have on hand. Even if your yard has electric and is well lit, rural areas are notorious for power-cuts in winter... be prepared!
- Mix (dry) morning feeds the night before. Buy bucket covers to keep feed, vermin and dust-free.
- Purchase an economy double duvet (available in most supermarkets). They make a great, cheap, emergency stand-by (to go underneath quiltied rugs) if temperatures fall. Even though they are sheltered from the elements, stable kept horses have limited movement, so can get chilly on on icy cold night.
- Consider deep-littering during the week, with a good clear out, wash and disinfect of the stable on a Saturday. This not only saves time but can keep the stable a little warmer.
TOP TIP: BOOK A RIDING HOLIDAY!
Whether you head off in search of winter sun, snowy trails, or perhaps take the opportunity to learn a new skill on a dressage or polo holiday, a short-break away will leave you refreshed and ready to cope with the remainder of the long, drawn-out UK winter.
- Head south for some winter sun. European destinations such as Southern Spain and Portugal are generally milder and offer a brief respite from the sub-zero chill of the UK. Alternatively, South Africa has some fantastic opportunities for sunny riding, and December and January are exceptionally hot and dry in Colombia.