As every equestrian knows, preparing for winter can feel all doom and gloom, especially as for me it means that the eventing season is coming to a close! The recent weather has really made it feel like winter is already upon us, with heavy rain and wind, therefore we’ve begun to make the necessary changes to prepare for the coming season.
Throughout the summer the majority of the horses are out and night and in during the day, this allows for them to keep out of the heat and flies; now we have changed them back over so that they are in at night and out during the day (even if for the past couple of days, they haven’t gone out at all due to the terrible weather!).
Most of my competition horses have had their first clip, having changed in their winter coats, and many are already ready for the second! I’m an all or nothing girl and tend to either not clip or take everything off, so most of my horses have their legs clipped out too – however with a couple of the pink-skinned one I have to be careful not to predispose them to the dreaded mud-fever that comes with this weather! Of course, now that they are all clipped out the warm cosy rugs have come out too. I try not to over-rug, but I do love to see them all cosy in their heavyweights!
Another change that I make heading in to winter is that for most of the horses I add sugarbeet to their diets – some of the lighter-weight horses have it throughout the year – but most don’t and so during the colder months they all get it added in! I find it helps to replace some of the goodness that is lost from the grass, and also has been discovered to help horses that may get gastric ulcers, and so is a good addition when the horses have less turnout and are eating more haylage!
Another part of our preparations is to move our young-stock and broodmares to their winter grazing on a local dairy farm – thankfully the pasture there is great, and they can live out, as although the weather turns I believe that living out id the best possible thing for young horses (and makes for six less stables to muck out!).
As its only October I hope that we will still have some more warmer, sunny days but unfortunately, I think they are on their way out! Let’s hope for a crisp, cold winter, not a boggy, damp one!