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Are you ready for winter?

Here are some top tips to help horse owners save time and money through the winter.

Stable Bedding

Ask local businesses if they shred their paper and whether they would donate it to you if you collected it on a regular basis. This will help the business dispose of the paper for free and save you oodles of money on bedding!

Feeding hay

In the stable - Put your hay / haylage straight from the wheelbarrow onto the stable floor, its a healthier eating position for your horse and saves you time. The only problem is if you have a greedy horse who hoovers it all up in one go and then stands hungry!

In the field - If you throw hay into your horse's field, avoid waste by making a frame out of old pallets. You should be able to get pallets free from warehouses who usually have surplus crates they want to get rid of. Cut the pallets down to a size for your horses to comfortably get their heads over and then screw or tie wrap four pallets together to make a square enclosure for the hay. The slats in the pallets are usually narrow enough to prevent horses an ponies getting their hooves caught, but just check this first. This DIY hay enclosure will stop the hay from being blown away and getting trodden in to mud, which will save you time and money!

The war against mud

Mud fever - use nappy rash cream to help block the mud from the legs, a much cheaper alternative than equestrian creams on the market. Simply apply liberally to clean legs before you turn your horse out, remember to dry your horse’s legs first as wet legs can encourage mud fever.

Ride clean - wear a pair of wellies when you are preparing your horse for a ride and change into a nice pair of clean boots when your are ready to mount and vice versa when you dismount. This will prevent your stirrups, girth, exercise sheet and the horse’s sides from being caked in mud from your boots! Oh and you will look smart too!

Scruffy is in this winter - When riding you only need to give the areas touching tack a good groom so don't feel like your horse has to be spotless for every winter ride!

Snuggy and clean - if you do like your horse to look his best when you ride out, invest in a snuggy hood to keep his neck and face mud free ready for riding.

Beating the chill factor

Cosy legs – on those chilly winter days try wearing one or two pairs of tights under your jodhpurs, they are great for insulation – jockeys swear by it!

Cosy hands - There’s nothing worse than cold wet gloves when you are riding and ice cold water when you are washing those buckets out! Brrrr! Keep a pair of rubber gloves handy to put on over your gloves when washing buckets, this will keep your hands warm and dry! You can also wear a pair of disposable / latex gloves under your riding gloves to stop your hands getting wet during riding.

For snowy rides

When snow is on the ground, rub cooking oil or Vaseline into your horse’s hooves. This will prevent the snow from sticking and collecting in the hooves, in addition to this, always carry a hoof pick with you when you go out for a hack.
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