Winter horse care tips

Throughout my working life with horses I have worked on a variety of yards: a thoroughbred stud, show ponies, eventers, hunters, big livery yards and small private yards. As we are headed towards winter I thought I would put together a list of my tips that I have gathered along the way to make caring for your horse in winter a little bit easier.

  • Label rugs with the key rings that have a tab you can write on to prevent mix ups. These are actually really cheap and fab for labelling a number of things around the yard: haynets, saddles, bridles etc

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  • The best place to dry wet and really muddy rugs is actually on the horse. If they are absolutely sodden and you don’t have spare rugs keep the rug on the horse overnight. It will be dry by the morning. This also prevents putting damp chilly rugs back on your nice warm horse in the morning.
  • If your taps/pipes are prone to freezing over night fill bins/barrels up in the afternoon and then you will have a supply of water in the morning without having to wait for them to defrost.
  • If your horse is susceptible to rugs rubbing away their mane get some mane and tail conditioner and spray on the horse’s mane to help maintain a nice full mane. Bibs are also great to help prevent rubbing on manes, withers and shoulder.
  • Put a thin sheet under your thicker rugs as these are a lot easy to chuck in the washing machine when they get on the grubby side.
  • Buy a heater for your tack room, it will help prevent your tack from getting damp and mouldy and its also much nicer to clean tack in a toasty warm room!
  • If you have a serial rug ripper in the field stick a thin rainsheet over the top of their good rugs so they take the brunt of the damage.
  • You just know your horse will roll in mud the day before you are due to go anywhere making much more work for you. Snuggy hoods are absolutely fantastic for keeping horses clean.

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  • Always have a spare pair of gloves and hat at the yard, nothing worse than forgetting them at home when it blooming freezing. Fingerless gloves are my favourite as you can still do the fiddley jobs without having to take them off.
  • Rubber gloves! Fab for putting over your normal gloves when cleaning out water drinkers and buckets.
  • Thermals and waterproof over trousers are your best friend when its miserable weather. If you are out in it all day there is nothing that makes you feel the cold quicker than being wet. Fab for riding out in too.
  • Old duvets make fantastic stable under rugs and are a great cheaper alternative.
  • If its snowy rub petroleum jelly in the soles of your horses feet to help prevent snow balling up in them and having those snazzy snow platforms and your horse pretending to be a hand higher than they usually are.

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  • Stock up on salt or grit for those unexpected cold snaps.
  • If its really snowy and you need to get hay to the field use a sledge instead of a wheelbarrow. They are much easier to drag than struggle with a heavy wheelbarrow.
  • Buy extra haynets and have a haynet filling session. This will help save a lot of time in the week when you maybe pushed for time.

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  • Buy small holed haynets to make it last longer.
  • De-icer or WD40 are great for thawing out frozen padlocks.
  • On days when it’s very cold break any water troughs that are frozen over, including ponds to prevent any accidents.

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  • If you can, get some hardcore put down in gateways this will definitely help stop them getting poached and stop that fantastic game of stuck in the mud with a horse that is keen to get into their stable!
  • “Sacrifice” one paddock for turnout out if you are able to. Yes it will get horrendously poached but you will be thankful come spring when your other paddocks are well rested. It’s amazing how quickly they “spring back” once the weather gets better.
  • Clip your horse according to their workload and how sweaty they get and then rug accordingly. If you are unsure of what to go for ask for advice.
  • Hot cloth horses after exercise to help reduce the build up of grease and dirt.

So those are my winter horse care tips, hope they are of some use to you. I would love to hear yours, anything to make life with horses on those long winter days easier is a well received.

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