There’s nothing like a long, wet, cold and miserable winter to make us realisehow time-consuming horse chores are, especially if you have a family and a demanding job. But, whatever your commitments, your horse is still an important part of your life and he needs attention. Not only that, he needs you!

When we’re under pressure, it’s easy to rush home from work, zoom off to the yard, rush through our horse chores and then back to into the warm and dry.

Do we really enjoy rushing around like this? And are we getting what we really want out of our relationship with ourhorse? Probably not. To make things better we need to adjust our attitudes and standards to turn the time we spend with our horse into quality time.

Changing times

Calm your mind during the journey to the yard. Relax and forget about any worries – your horse time starts here. Remember to breathe slowly and deeply into your whole body and think about your horse, not what you have to do when you leave the yard.

Horses hate being made to hurry. If, every time you turn up atthe yard you find your mind is harassed, your horse will sense this. This gets you off to a bad start. Instead, walk calmly and unhurriedly up to your horse and tell him what a great hour or two you are going to have. Take the time to give him some fuss.

There’s always a lot to do when caring for a horse, but is it really necessary for you to do everything at the same time? Could you get by with skipping out and putting in fresh bedding some days and doing a thorough muck-out every other day?

Do you have to groom your horse so completely if you are short of time? Your horse will be happy with the occasional quartering rather than a full groom every day.

When you give your horse a groom, think of it as a treat for your horse and a two-way communication between you. Linger over the areas he likes being touched and be gentle in sensitive areas. Pay close attention to what you are doing, talking to him while you work.

As for exercise, you don’t have to sit on him, particularly ifhe has been turned out. Instead, why not have a go at some close-up work on the ground, such as lungeing or long reining.

HORSE magazine has put together a 24-page guide to help you ‘Get set for winter’, which is packed with expert tips and advice and comes free with the October issue (on sale now). To subscribe online to HORSE magazine at a reduced rate click here.