Updated: Dec 27, 2021
A member of the NV Equine team is in the process of getting their own horse, therefore we have been having lots of conversations on routine and why they are important, what they need to include and coming up with a routine that will suit them.
I thought this may be useful to others, either as a new owner or perhaps some one looking for a new yard. I think it is important to know, or have some idea on what routine suits you and your horse and keep that foremost in your mind when looking for a yard.
What do we mean by routine?
The time of day and the order things are done in. No horses don't have a watch so they won't know the time but what they will know is that shortly after their mate is fed you arrive to feed them.
I think doing the jobs in the same order is a lot more important than being at the yard at 5am every morning. With the nature of my job I am not down the yard at the same time everyday, I do have the added bonus that my horses live out and this works for me.
Why is a routine important?
Routines are important for us and the horse.
For us it ensures we make the most of a time and nothing gets forgotten especially on busy yards where there are several members of staff, it is easy for things to get missed if routine is not followed. For me I have several people helping with my horses and by us all knowing the routine the horses behave better and again all jobs are done.
For the horse: Horses are creatures of habit if you watch them in the field they will graze round it in the same order each day. A good example is Rash will go for a roll every time he is let out of the stable whether he has been in for 1 min or 3 hours.
A good routine also helps prevent colic - horses only produce saliva and acid in the stomach when they anticipate feed or are eating if they think they are being fed and then the feed is delayed this build up of acid can cause ulcers and colic. Horses may gather at the gate in anticipation to come in or start showing different behaviour in the stable i.e. walking around or kicking the door. Both of these actions in the field and stable can cause injury.
What should be included in your routine?
The main items to include and these will be carried out on a daily basis.
Cleaning water supplies
Grooming some may groom everyday others just pick feet out.
Changing of rugs
Mucking out and/or poo picking the field
Some people may do the later two a couple of times a week depending on their other commitments.
Extra jobs are
Removing poisonous plants from the field
Cleaning feed and water buckets inc any that are in the field
Cleaning of tack
Tidying manes and tails
I spread my extra jobs out over the week where some people may do them all on the same day.
Other things to consider when putting together your routine
The yards routine - do horses have to be in or out at a certain time
Does the horse need medication - and how often
And of course how much time you have in a day.
My main bit of advice would be to chat to others and ask what they do but don't think you have to follow it to the letter, work out what suits you. If you try one way and it does not work don't be afraid to alter it so it does work.
I have added a picture of the routine we follow on the yard.