As the shorter and colder days and longer nights roll around again, it is time to start thinking about winterising your horse and the stable ready for the even colder weather just around the corner.
Whilst “winterising” your horse may not be a term you hear every day, it is a simple way to ensure all of your supplies, equipment and your horse is ready for the cold weather to come. It is really just like preparing your home and your vehicle so you aren’t taken by surprise when the snow finally arrives to stay.
Winterising your horse and the stable
This is also a great time to check the straps, buckles or fasteners on rugs and to make any repairs that may be required. Any damaged straps or areas of wear on the rugs or blankets can pose a risk for the horse, particularly if the rug is left on when the horse is turned out.
If you have washed the rugs, spray a waterproofing compound on the exterior surface. This will help to prevent the rugs from becoming wet while on the horse. There are some terrific new options for horse rugs on the market so this could be a great time to buy your horse a much-deserved winter present.
Feed and Bedding
It is also a very wise choice to have a few weeks of feed on hand in the event of a dramatic blizzard or storm. It is much easier to move baled hay and bags of feed and bedding around in the stable than trying to arrange to have it brought in when the weather is less favourable for travel and traffic.
It is also a good idea to talk to your stable manager and discuss the best feeding routines and requirements for your horse. Horses that are less active in the winter may require a modification of their feeding routines to help them to stay in top shape. If you are going to be riding this winter on a regular basis or if your horse will be out in the paddock this will not be as much of a concern.
Take the time to completely inspect the stall. While there may be a stable manager that has this task, it never hurts to give the stall a close inspection yourself. Look for any nails or splinters that are protruding, check to make sure the automatic waterer is functioning or that the water dish is clean and in good shape if it is filled manually each day. Look for any signs of water accumulation on the walls or the floor as this could indicate leaks in walls, the roof or even ground seepage that will keep the area of the floor wet all winter long.
Hooves and Shoes
If you haven’t scheduled a farrier visit now is the right time. If your horse is shod have the shoes checked and adjusted as needed to give your horse secure footing for winter ground conditions.
For a horse that is not shod, trimming the hooves to the correct length will help to prevent ice and snow from packing up in the sole of the hoof. You will still need to use a hoof pick to clean out the ice and snow, but it will make the task much easier.
Winterising your horse doesn’t have to take a lot of time. It is all about being prepared and ensuring your horse will be comfortable, dry and well-cared for all winter long.