Freezing temperatures and the threat of snow don’t make our daily horse chores appealing but being prepared can help to make things easier.
Despite the mild spell after the festive period, winter is far from over, in fact we are promised more of the white stuff in the coming weeks and waking up to the bitter chill of a dark, frosty morning can test even the hardiest of horse owner.
With a little forethought winter doesn’t have to bring the blues. With safety in mind, grit high traffic areas around the yard to help prevent any nasty slips. Put hoses inside at night to stop them splitting as they freeze and remember to insulate taps and pipes where possible. Unfortunately, an extra water supply is still often necessary but there are a couple of ways to help when it comes to water buckets. Try placing any outside buckets inside a larger insulator such as another bucket (plastic or rubber) or old tyre, the space between the two can be filled with straw to give extra warmth. Another tried and tested method in a larger water container is a plastic bottle filled with salt water (securely fastened) floated on top of your horse’s water. The salt in the bottle stops it from freezing and it will move around the surface of the water bucket with the breeze to help prevent a solid top!
If you’re horse is rugged up cosily then you should be wrapped up too! Wearing multiple thin layers are better than one thick one and investing in a good close-fitting base layer garment is a good start. Cosy fleece body warmers and thin padded jackets are ideal under a waterproof coat, building vital layers to trap warm air and keep you dry. Although it’s a myth that most of your body heat is lost through your head, if the rest of your body is covered then that is the place any heat would escape, so it is still important to keep our heads snug too.
Don’t underestimate the necessity of thick welly socks either, they will keep toes toasty for trudging through muddy, icy puddles – providing they’re worn inside a pair of solid waterproof boots! For an extra boost of heat keep a packet of chemical foot or hand warmers in the tack room, they could be a life saver on a cold day to shove down your wellies while you’re waiting for the farrier. As for hands, when it comes to choosing gloves, you’ll thank yourself for spending a little more on a pair fit for purpose when it comes to fiddly or wet jobs around the yard. As a final edition to your ‘beat the cold’ kit, add a good lip balm and intensive hand cream to the grooming box to fight off chapped lips and sore hands.
Rather than groan to the sound of the alarm over the coming weeks, think how lucky we are to witness the glistening beauty of an icy landscape against the backdrop of a glowing sunrise while others are still in bed…
…ok, well let’s just look forward to spring!