Winter time-saving tips

An at-a-glance guide for busy horseowners

  • Buy five or six haynets and fill all of them they can be stored ready for use.
  • Deep litter your bed during the week. Take all the wet out once a week, disinfect the floor and leave it to dry.
  • Before bringing your horse out of his stable, pick his feet out into a rubber skip.
  • To save time sweeping the yard, take your horse out of his stable before mucking out and push your wheelbarrow all the way in. Then place an old blanket on top to move from the stable to the muck heap without making a mess on the yard.
  • Builder’s merchant sacks are ideal containers for dirty bedding as they are strong and durable. Once filled, the corners can be tied and the bag can be moved to the muckheap.
  • Attach some baling twine, or a piece of brightly-coloured ribbon, to a hoofpick and place it on a hook outside your stable door. This way you will always be able to locate your hoofpick when you need it.
  • Use a cotton summer sheet under your horse’s stable rug to protect it from grease and dirt. A cotton sheet is easier to wash and dry than a thick quilted rug.
  • If your horse needs his hay soaked, consider feeding haylage for the winter months, as it doesn’t need soaking.
  • Make up all your weekly feeds at once and store them individually in clean, rodent-proof containers with lids. Each feed can then be emptied into your horse’s bucket or manger, dampened if necessary and fed to your horse.
  • Get together with another horseowner and draw up a rota to turn out and bring in for each other on set days. You will then be able to take it in turns to have the occasional evening or morning off.
  • Keep a headcollar and torch in your car, you can then go straight to the field without having to go to the yard first. A torch is also invaluable for investigating wounds and other injuries when artificial light casts shadows.
  • Prioritise. Have a set order in which you do things and stick to it. Small or less important jobs can always be left for another day when you have more time.
  • Keep your horse clean and warm by investing in a hood or neck cover.
  • Invest in a hose to bring your water to wherever you need it rather than trying to struggle unnecessarily up and down the yard with those heavy water buckets.
  • Keep a selection of old leadrope clips wrapped in an oily rag. These are perfect for temporarily fixing a broken leg strap clip or buckle, until permanent repairs can be made.
  • Keep an eye on the weather forecast and take precautionary measures if sub-zero temperatures are predicted by putting down plenty of rock salt around any areas that are likely to freeze over in the cold.
  • Invest in a set of overalls to wear over your daytime clothes. This will save time changing or going home.
  • A small plastic football floating in your horse’s field trough or a small plastic ball floating in his water bucket stops water freezing over and allows access to fresh water in all but the coldest of weather.
  • Buy a household duvet and duvet cover, use it under a stable rug in place of multiple quilted rugs. They are cheaper to buy and the cover is easily washed.
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