The days are finally starting to draw back out, and the late winter days are starting to make an appearance. We’re now starting to see snowfall and snow is forecast across the UK – so how can we make our lives easier at the yard through this cold snap?

Like anything with horses, it can be a challenge. The yard gets icy, the water freezes, the grazing disappears, and our horses can get a little bit fresh!

Haynets

Filling hay nets for the week can save you a lot of time. To make this easier, why not buy a haynet filler, or better yet – make your own! Mine is a simple plastic barrel with three bolts to loop the haynet over. I used to hate filling haynets, and now it takes no time at all!

Water

Frozen taps are the bane of winter yard life. We need water for mixing feed, topping up buckets, tending to injuries… aside from trying to insulate pipes as much as possible to reduce the severity of the freeze, be sure to keep a couple of 25l water containers filled up and stored somewhere out of the direct cold. I always make sure to undo the caps once they’re in place, otherwise you may end up with them frozen on too!

Keeping warm and dry

It’s not just the snow we need to watch out for. The good old British weather usually means rain and lots of it. I don’t know about you, but full waterproof trousers when you’re already layered up to the max makes me swelteringly hot. I found these last year. They’re actually cycling “trousers”, and they’re called Rain Legs. They’re a bit like chaps, but are down to the knee with velcro straps to hold them in place, and are windproof, waterproof and really warm in the saddle. Not only that, you can roll them up and pop them in place around the waistband when you’re not using them.

Good gloves

Whether for yard chores or riding, a good pair of gloves is essential. It became apparent when I sorted out my tack room that I have several pairs of gloves – ranging from woolly gloves and mittens to riding gloves and all-round gloves.

These are my mucking out gloves, and they’re Shires with nitrile rubber palms and fingers. I tend to muck out by hand in order to reduce wastage of Rio’s bedding and these are the perfect gloves for the job. Warm but fitted, they’re a bit like a second skin, not getting in the way.

Protection

In wet conditions, and with the windy days we are having, our horses are bound to have a few slips and slides in the field. It’s a good idea to keep your first aid kit topped up, but also preventative measures can go a long way too! Rio has a pair of Premier Equine infrared boots, and an Arc Equine to help his rehab along, but there are plenty of options out there, so have a look around and see what works for you and your horse!

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.

Hal Borland

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