Monday, 3 November 2014

Winter Tips

I love this picture, it makes snow look so romantic and beautiful but I have to confess that I am not a big fan of the winter.  Yes, when it is dry and crisp and you can be outside it is lovely but unfortunately mostly it is wet and/or absolutely freezing.  Nearly all the hours I spend with the horses are in the dark, there is no time to ride in the week and the weekends are nearly always wet, windy or icy.  Now the clocks have changed (UK) we are left with only a small window of light to spend with our horses.  In a few more weeks it will be dark when we leave for and get home from work!  The mud where I keep the horses is absolutely awful because of the high clay content.  The horses are never completely clean because the clay is impossible to shift.  My boots are heavy and getting the wheelbarrow to the muck heap is a real challenge! 

Yes, enough of the whinging, I am lucky to have some lovely horses to look after!

So, to try to make it all a bit more bearable (in addition to my Winter To Do List) I have a few routines I have that help me save as much time as possible so that I can use every moment of light to ride/lunge.

I thought I would share these with you along with a few tips I have picked up. I am sure you will know and use some of them but maybe I will have a new one for you too.....

  • Get organised, put up shelves, cabinets and hooks and put all your equine equipment in order.  If everything has its place you will always know where to find it and won't spend time searching. 
  • Make sure you have somewhere to hang wet rugs to dry and if you can have a spare.  The cold nights in the winter don't allow the rugs to dry and putting a wet one on the following morning always seems a bit cruel. 
  •  Don't walk anywhere without carrying something, if you go past the hay barn then pick up a haynet, when you put your horse in the stable change the rug at the same time and take the outdoor rug to its 'home' on your way to get the feed.  Obviously this will alter depending on the set up of your yard but think about it and don't waste time walking about empty handed! 
  • If you can, fill lots of haynets at the weekend so you don't waste time filling them in the week. 
  • Put your horse on a weekly deep litter, so you only skip out in the week and clear the wet out at the weekend.
  • If you are trying to fit in a ride in the last bits of light then just brush your horse where the saddle and bridle go - you can give him a good brush afterwards. (Remember if going out on the road where your Hi-Viz gear.) 
  •  Have your tools and everyday kit organised so you know exactly where it is and don't waste time searching. 
  •  Install automatic water bowls.  These are obviously an expense but really do save time (and your back).  They do need cleaning out to ensure the water stays fresh and it obviously means you can't track how much water your horse is drinking.  The pipes to the bowls can be prone to freezing in the winter so you may need to use water buckets on these occasions. 
  •  If you are short on time in the evenings then make up the feeds for the evening when you do the morning ones (in separate buckets) or if you are short on time in the evening make them up in the morning. 
  • Have a pen knife or a special yard knife handy for cutting the baler twine on your hay bales so you don't waste time hunting for something.  Always replace it so that you know where to find it next time! 
  • Pick feet out into a skip to avoid the need to sweep up afterwards.  You may need to introduce this slowly if your horse is nervous.
  • Put some baler twine on your hoof pick and hang it outside the stable so you always know where to find it!

I am sure you could suggest more ways to save time, please share and put your ideas in the comments section below!

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Until next time!

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