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Weathering winter takes preparation and diligence — for both you and your horses. Winter impacts almost everything that goes into keeping you and your equine friends comfortable. Even your tack organization needs some attention before everyone starts spending more time indoors.
If you choose to blanket your horses, winter can take a toll on them so it is always helpful to have more than one. Over the season straps may break or blankets may rip. You certainly don’t want your equine friend shivering because a blanket didn’t hold up until spring. Also, don’t forget that you always need some spares for cleaning day. Already have extra blankets but no place to store them? Hang some new blanket racks and get those blankets off the floor and organized.
How is other your tack? Do you need to replace your halters, saddle pads, or leads for winter? How are your girths holding up? These are heavy use items that can quickly show signs of wear.
Just like people, winter drives horses indoors. Similar to a bored child tired of being indoors, your horses will benefit with some diversions to keep them busy. And if you own a cribber, a diversion and deterrent is even more important. Invest in some stimulating treats, such as toys and jolly balls or cribbing straps to prevent destructive bad habits. Having some extra salt around is a good idea, too.
Organization is important to winter safety. A good new year’s resolution is to tidy up the stable or barn. Dust off or replace bulbs so things are a little brighter. Get rid of extra feed bags or piles of junk. Old papers and worn tack are great places for mice and rats to hide. Keeping your tack organized offers the double-bonus of protection. Not only is your tack easy to find, but it is also safe from uninvited guests. Hang new bridle buckets, tack hooks and saddle racks to get things tidy. Organized tack, well-lit walkways, and tidy stalls offer protection to you, your horses, and anyone else who frequents your barn.
Have you thought about your buckets and feeders? Are they in good condition, or did they barely survive last winter? Do you have some spares in case dislodging ice causes them to break? It’s always a good idea to make sure your buckets and feeders are in good condition before the really bad weather begins. You may even consider some heated supplies.
Finally, consider your own comfort and safety in extreme winter temperatures. Leather boots can wear and crack, especially in pressure points. You may need a new pair, so do a thorough inspection before the weather turns nasty. Think about your gloves, too. They also take a beating during winter months. Remember to protect yourself as well as you do your horses.