The Stables

Five Things You Need To Get You Through Winter With Horses

1 Sense of Humour

This is the only thing that will get you through winter when owning horses. If you haven’t got a sense of humour then you will never get through the winter months.  You will need to see the funny side of pushing a wheelbarrow through a bog trying to get to the muck heap with sideways rain lashing in your face. You will have to learn to smile when your horse comes in looking like a prehistoric swamp monster when you spent half an hour that morning brushing the mud off them – which is now all over you. You will have to learn to laugh when you go to the feed merchant and get your bank card out for the fifth time that month buying more bedding, feed or replacement rugs which they have ripped to shreds… If these factors don’t make you chuckle, then don’t buy a horse!

2. A Flexible Bank Account

You will notice your bank balance will be tested heavily during winter when caring for horses. As mentioned above, you will be buying more feed, bedding, and hay during the depths of the cold and wet months. Not only can rugs be an extra expense, horses tend to pull shoes off in the boggy fields or need buckets of pig oil to keep their legs free of mud fever.  Your hay bill will be more than a weekly take away, so think twice when ordering a Chinese on a Friday night and perhaps save it for another large bale of hay!

3. Time

Horse ownership in the winter needs your time. If you are not prepared to lose one to two hours a day just in looking after them normally consisting of two visits to the yard, then this equestrian life is not for you! Be prepared to get up in darkness in all weathers to see to your horse’s breakfast and then rug, oil up (to keep the dreaded mud fever at bay) and make the precarious trip in slippery mud turning your horse out. You then have a stable full of muck, wee, and hay debris to clear up and redo for the evening. You then make another trip to the yard (normally in dusk or darkness again) to collect from the field now a wet and muddy horse.  After rug changing and leg wrapping, they will then undo the tidy and clean stable. Factor in actually getting in the saddle to ride, adds up to many hours a week looking after our much loved equines.

4 Warm Waterproof Clothing

It is vital to survive the winter months with good clothing. You will need a warm and waterproof jacket, some over trousers to save you washing five pairs of trousers a week that are permanently mud stained or wet. A hat and a neck warmer are essential together with some sturdy pair of gloves to keep you from getting frostbite. You have to remember that you will be spending around fifteen hours minimum outside in the cold a week, looking after your horse (see you will need time!) A tough and warm pair of wellies are fundamental in making it through the muddy terrain. However, a good quality pair is the equivalent of probably a two week food shop. So you will have to be frugal when making your families dinners for a couple of weeks!

5 Positive Outlook

It is probably around February when you are thinking how to draft the “For Sale or For Loan” ad. Put the pen down or don’t search for horse selling websites on the internet. Instead, think positive thoughts and have the mindset that warm and sunny days are on the horizon. Imagine those balmy light evenings when you can hack out with your horse with your lightweight jods and polo shirt on. Your bank account will be having a rest and your over trousers are slung in the hall cupboard for an eight month rest. However, come October those equestrian winter blues will be looming again….

by Samantha Hobden ( a long suffering horse owner that is fed up with winter!)