Before you know it, the days will get shorter, the temperature will start dropping, and your horse will get fuzzier! Winter is on its way. Are you prepared? Now's the time to get your stable and horse ready for the chilly months ahead, so you won't be running around like crazy when winter finally hits. What are you waiting for? Grab our trusty checklist and get to work.
If you were very organized in the spring, your blankets and rugs should be clean and packed away nicely. But if you are like most of us, they are dirty and thrown on the tack room floor! Grab the stable rugs and throw them in the washing machine, or take them to a laundromat. Hose off New Zealand rugs, and when they're clean and dry, paint them with a waterproofing solution. If rugs or blankets are ripped, take them to a saddler to be fixed.
You should have two turnout blankets. If one gets wet or extra-muddy, you can put the other one on your horse.
Strip your stable of old straw or shavings. Throw down some hydrated lime to freshen up the floors. If the floor is made of dirt or sand, rake it flat. Then put down a fluffy, new bed of shavings or straw.
Grab a broom and get rid of cobwebs.
Wash out all buckets.
Check the salt block. It might need replacing.
Make sure that brooms, pitchforks, rakes, wheelbarrows and shovels are all in good condition. You'll need them for mucking out.
Buy a couple bags of kitty litter and store them away. Kitty litter comes in handy if the floor get icy around the stable. Sprinkling kitty litter on ice helps prevent slipping and sliding.
Start the season out right with a brand-new currycomb. You know you're going to use it a lot on your muddy horse!
Oil gate hinges and latches to help prevent freezing during cold weather. You can also use spray lubrication like WD-40.
If gateways and areas around the water trough get muddy during the winter months, ask mom or dad if you can get a truckload of Class I sand (very fine gravel) delivered and spread where the mud appears. Class I sand can help prevent a gateway turning into a soupy mess.
Check the insulating tape on water pipes. You may need to wrap more insulation around pipes to prevent them freezing later on in the season.
Most horses eat hay during the winter months. By now you or your barn owner should have sorted out a supply of hay. It's best to buy enough hay for the whole winter from the same source/farm. You don't want to have to switch hay in the middle of the winter. Check that your hay is stored properly. It should be placed on wooden pallets in a dry place. Pallets let air circulate under the bales so they don't get wet or moldy.
If you use haynets, make sure they are still in good condition. Sometimes the string breaks and hay falls out of big holes in the net.
Time to hunt for your winter riding clothes. Winter coats should be washed and ready to go.
Check your chaps (if you wear them) to make sure they don't need to be repaired.
If you don't have a pair of rubber boots, go to a discount store and invest in some. You'll be happy you have them once the fields get muddy. They come in handy for mucking out as well.
Invest in a pair of insulated gloves. You'll need them when the weather gets cold. Earmuffs that can be worn under your helmet while you're riding are a smart purchase as well.