We don’t mean to nag, but there are a few chores that, in an ideal world, you’ll have done before February arrives...
1. Reclip your horse as soon as possible
It is said: “Clipping a horse in February is a really bad idea, as his summer coat will be starting to make an appearance and you’ll just go and ruin it by chopping off the tip of it.” Once your clipping duties for the season are complete, don’t go putting the blades away, only to get them out again in October and realise they’re completely blunt. Send them away to be sharpened now, and consider getting the clippers serviced while you’re at it.
2. Clear out, clean up and cash in
Let’s face it, we all have stuff we don’t need:
➤ The broken headcollar at the bottom of a trunk in the tackroom “just in case” it comes in handy one day — that day will never come
➤ Rugs that are no longer waterproof — proof them or sling them out
➤ Girths that have come unstitched — stitch or ditch them
➤ Take items you no longer need to the second-hand shop, car boot sale or sell them on eBay
➤ Ensure your summer rugs are washed and repaired in preparation for use in a few months. There’s wishful thinking!
3. Sort out the lorry/trailer
If you haven’t already prepared your lorry for winter, it’s high time to get on the case or ask a mechanic to do so for you. “Winterising” your horsebox includes getting the tyres checked and replaced if necessary; topping up your anti-freeze, and draining the water tank. You could have the seasons’ dents knocked out, too — unless you can’t see the point since your horse/that gate post/the branch that sticks out on the lane are only going to put them back in again a week later.
4. Get geeky, get organised
This is a fun chore. Really. Invest in a calendar, plan out your season and pin it in the tackroom. Or even better register for Equo and you can do it all on your phone. Get your competition hopes penciled in, because if horses get wind of a championship they will throw a shoe at least. Mark on your lessons, too. This is truly motivational stuff. Book the farrier, schedule your horse’s annual vaccinations and set reminders to worm him appropriately. You’ll feel super organised.
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5. Tend to your gateways
Not quite so much fun, but your horse’s pasterns will thank you. Keeping your field gateways as dry as possible will help to fend off mud fever and thrush. Putting hardcore down prevents poaching, but recycling old shavings makes an economical alternative. You could try using electric fence to protect the gateway, although this may move the poached area a few metres back and exacerbate the problem. If you have an ongoing problem, seek professional advice in time for next year.