Hopefully we won't be getting weeks of snow, ice and freezing temperatures that makes life especially difficult for everyone living and working in the countryside and tending animals.
Preparation is key and now is the time to ensure that all is ship-shape on the yard and that you’re well prepared to protect yourself, and your horses from the elements.
A clean stable is a healthy stable, so scrub it thoroughly throughout and whitewash if possible. Check windows and doors for rusty hinges and make sure there are no draughts. All gutters and drains should be free from debris, because an overflowing pipe can cause a problem with ice build-up, which can, of course, cause accidents.
If you’ve not checked your stable roofs for leaks, please do it soon before it’s too late. Also remember to buy extra light bulbs for the stable now, or you may run out and have to feed/muck out in the dark!
A dry environment in the tack room, should you be lucky enough to have one, is invaluable too. So, if you don’t have a fitted heating system, a good-quality, free standing heater will ensure your tack stays free from damp and mould. It will also create a nice, warm place to sit and enjoy a hot cuppa too.
If finances allow then an industrial washed and dryer are good investments because they help to keep rugs, numnahs and boots clean and dry.
Don’t forget to check the water supply regularly and ensure water pipes and taps are all lagged. A tennis, or football placed in the water trough can help to prevent freezing by creating constant, gentle movement. Put one in the trough now to let your horse(s) become used to seeing it there. But, just in case, make sure you have a suitable implement on hand to break the ice as often as you can.
In the stables, place some chopped apple in water buckets to encourage the horses to drink from them.
However, prolonged winter weather might result in the horse(s) being turned out less. More time in the stables means that he will get through more bedding, so ensure you have enough. Rubber matting might also be worth considering. While the initial cost can be expensive, you will use less bedding and save time when skipping out, it will soon pay for itself.