“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Jack Frost nipping at your nose.”
Uhm, more like Jack Frost gnawing his way through your 15 million layers and then shattering your toes every time you ride (But, I guess that doesn’t have a nice ring to it). Welcome to winter everybody! Luckily in most places winter hasn’t come full force yet. There is still time to ready your horse, barn, and yourself for the upcoming months. So take the time to finish this list and save yourself the stress when there is 29″ of snow! It’s time to up your winter horse care game.
1.Organize Your Tack Trunk
I am not kidding when I say I found empty chapsticks, like a hundred ziplock bags, bobby pins everywhere, and a sweater. Clean out you tack trunk and make sure that what’s in there is in good working order.
2. Check All Fence Lines
This is a major one. Check your fence lines NOW, before the snow starts to pile up or you sink into mud like quicksand. Look for fraying or sagging wires, loose boards, wiggly posts, and popped nails. Try to get any repairs done as soon as possible to save the stress of fixing it in nasty weather.
3. Scrub & Disinfect All Buckets
Anybody else have a dribbler? Grab your 1:10 bleach solution and scrub those babies out, crusted on grain bits and all. Don’t forget to check for cracks and squirt a little WD40 on those snaps.
4. Clean & Disinfect Your Brushes
Even after a few days of wearing a clean blanket Leo’s coat become totally gnarly! Not to mention the layers of mud that get sloshed all over his legs and belly. Grab that 1:10 bleach solution and a vacuum and get your brushes ready for winter grooming.
5. Wash Blankets and Make Repairs
If you haven’t needed to already (lucky!), pull out your blankets and get them washed. My plaid sheet isn’t quite so plaid anymore! I usually try to sneak them into the laundromat and clean them myself for around $5 a load. Also check them for any rips, missing straps, or broken buckles.
6. Stock Up On Winter Supplies
Keep a small container of road salt in your car or at the front of your barn. Dig out your snow brush. Replace the batteries in your headlamp for when the 50 year old barn lights won’t turn on. When I lived in NY I had a collapsible shovel in my trunk just in case. Make sure you (and your barn!) have all of the supplies you will use this winter ready to go.
7. Double Check Your Insurance
Pull out the old AAA card and just double check it’s up to date. Nothing screams “I need roadside assistance” than trying to get your 2001 Honda Civic down your barn’s unplowed driveway.
8. Check Food Storage and Levels
Do a walkthrough of your barn’s feed room and hay storage. When it gets cold all of the critters run to the warmest place in the barn, which is usually where the food is. Check that all grain/supplements are securely stored and, if possible, lifted off the ground. Be sure your hay is in a dry place, off the floor, and be sure you have an adequate supply.
9. Dig Through Your Winter Riding Clothes
“Boy! I looked so hot in my winter riding breeches and helmet cover!” – said no one ever
But hey, you do what you need to survive. Dig through your winter riding clothes, wash them, and make any repairs or new purchases. Find your puffy pair of breeches, that lucky pair of wool socks, a full length rain poncho, and your “Deadliest Catch” gloves. Tip: I keep a bag of extra gloves, scarves, raincoats, and hats in my trunk as well as a full box of hand warmers.
10. Treat Yourself
Okay, winter sucks. When your hobby forces you to be outside in brutal weather you have every right to treat yourself. So I say buy the $15 bath soak, get that gore-tex snow coat, or rack up the punches on your coffee card. You deserve it.
Brrrrr! After living in one of the snowiest cities in America for 22 years I am excited to experience a Seattle winter with Leo. I hope that where ever you are the temperatures stay warm and the snow stays light. As always please share this post on Facebook, Pinterest, and with family and friends.