Can you believe we are already into October and thinking about preparing for the winter season?
I love seeing the leaves change colour and look forward to crisp frosty mornings, not sure i'm enjoying all this wet weather we are currently having.
Here are my top ten tips for preparing for winter;
Bedding - during the summer months my horses have minimal bedding in their stables but now I will give the stable floors a wash down with some disinfectant and put down a thicker bed.
TIP: Suppliers tend to have special offers on bulk buys so have a shop around and see what bedding works for you and the best deal you can get.
Hay - have you
got a regular hay supplier, again now is the time to shop around and see who your local suppliers are and the quality of their hay. Will they be able to supply you through the winter.
TIP: Those horses living out will appreciate some dry hay at the moment.
Routine - what will your horses daily routine be? How often will you need to visit in a day and will you be able to do it all yourself or will you need some help? If you don't already have regular help with the horse or someone who knows your routine and can step in when needed then now is the time to look for someone. Ask on your yard if there is anyone. If you need to find a freelance groom, ask people for recommendations,
TIP: if you are going to need someone on a regular basis it is worth pre booking them now has I know from my own experience as a groom their diaries fill up fast this time of year.
Rugs - have you got enough rugs for winter, will you be clipping your horse and need extra? Again there are always some good bargains to have now and new rugs coming onto the market so well worth shopping around, if you already have them are they clean and in good repair.
TIP: If they have been stored over summer it is worth getting them out to check them rather then waiting for the cold weather to hit and realising something has made a home in your rug over summer and it is no longer usable.
Be ready for the Ice. Have you got snow shovels, rock salt so you can clear paths to and from the field if you need to.
TIP: Have you got something to break the ice on the water buckets. A hammer tied to the handle can be very useful.
Water - are all your pipes protected, have you got extra water containers you can fill in case pipes freeze.
TIP: Having had to do horses at 5am on freezing mornings I have found filling water containers the night before and covering with old turnout rugs is a very good time saving tip.
Lighting - have you got adequate lighting on your yard or are you going to need a head torch for working with or walking to and from the yard or field. There are lots on the market,, the NV team have just kitted ourselves out with a usb rechargeable one.
TIP: Keep a head torch handy in your car or bag and in your tack room, there is nothing worse than arriving at the yard at 5am to discover there has been a power cut in the night.
Yard - Are all your drains, guttering and downpipes cleared. Tidy away anything you don't need for winter so it is easier to find things.
TIP: Collect rain water wherever possible this will come in handy on those freezing mornings.
Exercise - How often will you be able to exercise your horse over winter, are you still wanting to compete, if you are going to be ridding less during the winter start to cut back now ensure you lower hard feed at the same time as reducing exercise.
TIP: Don't put too much pressure on yourself to work your horse over winter, unless you are one of the lucky ones with an indoor arena working horses during the winter months can be hard.
Your clothing - have you got sufficient warm and waterproof clothing, again lots on the market so have a shop around, I find ski wear very helpful.
TIP: keep a spare waterproof in the tack room for those times you find you either get soaking wet or you just pop to the yard and end up having to get the vet or fix fencing and there longer than you thought.
Winter doesn't need to be a hard slog, by putting things in place now can help save time, energy and money during winter. Enjoy your horse, make sure you find time to ride or stand and brush them and remember why we have them. Spring will come again.