Because the days in winter are so short, we often feel like all we ever do is rush about getting from work or school to the yard in order to muck out, prepare feeds, fill haynets and change rugs before it gets dark. There never seems to be enough hours in the day to have quality time with our horses, and very little time to ride. The good news is that with some forward planning, and a positive attitude there is much you can do to enjoy the winter months.
Use the weekends to get yourself organized. Invest in several haynets and fill them all up, so that you can save time on mid-week mornings and evenings. Assess how much food and hay you have and if necessary, order a new supply so that you are not panicking in the week because youíve run out. Find out when your horse food retailer is going to be closed over the festive season and arrange for a delivery to arrive in plenty of time.
Share the load
If there are several horses and owners on your yard, get together and arrange a rota so that you can take it in turns to feed and turn out in the mornings. Make sure everyone has each otherís mobile numbers on their phones so that you can be contacted in an emergency. Get your car serviced so that it doesnít let you down in the mornings and keep a high visibility jacket and a torch handy, so that you are prepared for anything.
Try and resist being such a perfectionist during the winter. Look for ways that you can save time by cutting back on how much you do. For example, perhaps you can skip out during the week, putting fresh bedding on top and leave doing a thorough mucking out until the weekend. Remember too, that your horse wonít mind if he doesnít have every tiny speck of mud groomed off him each night, and will be quite happy with a quick brush during the week rather than a full grooming session.
Horses do not like being rushed, and so resolve to allow more time each day so that you are not trying to drag them out of their stables and charge down to the field in a great hurry. Resolve to slow down, practice deep breathing and put some relaxing music on in your car on the way to the stables, so that you donít arrive feeling stressed and anxious.
Remember that the only reason we have horses is for our pleasure and enjoyment. Looking after them shouldnít be a chore, so when you are with them give them your full attention and make time to get to know them. Even if you donít have time to ride you can have fun just being with them, finding out what kind of things they like and what they donít. Try grooming, giving them a massage or just generally making a fuss of them. By building a relationship with your horse from the ground, you will increase the trust and communication between you when you ride.
Author: Andrea McHugh