Getting Ready For Fall Podcast Episode 020
Hello my favorite equestrians of the internet! Can you believe this is already episode 20 of the podcast?!?! I can’t! It seems like I just started podcasting yesterday. And here we are, already at episode 20!
And I don’t know about where you live, but fall is making itself known where I live. It is getting cold. And last night was the official first freeze, and snow of the season. Thankfully I didn’t wake up to snow on the ground. But it was chilly when I finally got out of bed. Chilly enough that I ran down and turned the furnace on!
Which really got me thinking about getting ready for winter. And that is what I wanted to talk to you about today, getting our barns and horses ready for winter.
My Weekly Riding Lesson
But first I have to share with you that I rode Frisby as my “lesson horse” again this week. I rode on Saturday as planned, but I rode at 1:00 instead of 2:00 because they were forecasting it to start raining later in the afternoon. And I really wanted to make sure I got my lesson time in.
Overall it was a good time riding Frisby. He is very lazy, and stubborn, so I think my legs got a fantastic work out. I even threatened getting my spurs, but it was really windy, and I didn’t want him to spook, and then inadvertently stab him with the spurs, so I didn’t use them this week. But next week, spurs will go on, so I can get some forward movement out of him.
But laziness aside, it was a good lesson I would say. I tried to duplicate what I would work on during my former riding lessons with an instructor. So we did walk and trot, there was no way I was going to be able to motivate him into a canter, so I was happy to be able to get to trot. But I worked on dropping and picking up my stirrups without looking, riding without my stirrups, my diagonals and two point. I did much better this week in two point, I was able to go complete revolutions of the arena in two point, which is a bug improvement. My thighs are still feeling like Jell-O so that is definitely a good sign that I did it right!
I also worked with Ethan one day this week, from the ground. He was a very good boy. And I did work for an hour with him, so I think I can count that as half a lesson, since I didn’t ride him, but that will be coming soon!
$100 Saved From Riding ‘Lessons’
So now that I have 2 lessons completed (and a half) I have $100.00 in my horse fund. And I really think I want to spend it on a pair of the LeMieux sports boots, but I think I am going to wait. With the holiday season coming up fast, Riding Warehouse and other horse stores are bound to have great Black Friday deals, so I think I will hold off until then to spend the money I have saved. That way I can save money while I am buying what I want! I think I will do a tack haul video after I have a little shopping spree from my riding lesson fund.
Ok enough of the weekly riding lesson, let’s get into what I really wanted to talk to you about, getting ready for winter!
Getting Ready For Fall/Winter
Before we know it, winter will be here. And I like to be prepared before winter gets here instead of scrambling to prepare when there is already snow on the ground, and the high temperature for the day is below freezing. So I wanted to share with you what I do, in hopes that maybe it will help you get ready for the winter too.
Did you know a horse will drink between 5 and 10 gallons of water a day? And did you also know they have done studies to prove that horses like their water to be around 40 degrees when they drink? This can be challenging if you live in a climate where the day time temperatures are below freezing. And one way I combat that is to have a tank heater.
Tank heaters are mostly affordable, you just need to have a way to plug it in. I use the higher rated extension cords that are capable of supplying electricity to the heater. We don’t have power in our barn, so we have run extension cords underground that run the electricity out to my tack room, and subsequently the tank heater as well. And every night I plug in the water tank, so it doesn’t freeze, and hopefully it stays temperate enough to encourage my horses to drink.
I also make sure there are multiple sources of water for my horses too. We have a large tank between their pens, and I also have 5-gallon buckets of water in their stalls that are inside of bucket insulators that hopefully remain unfrozen.
I bought these last year, and they helped a little, but sometimes the water still froze solid. This year I am going to try harder to keep them free from ice. If you were thinking about buying these bucket insulators, save your money, they aren’t worth the $99.00 that they cost. In my opinion. That would probably work better in a more temperate climate, but for Colorado winter’s, they don’t insulate enough to protect the buckets from freezing.
And my horses have a water tank out in their main pasture too, so when they are out they can get to water as well. But the main source of water in the winter is their shared paddock tank, so I try to keep that one always ice free, and warm enough to encourage them to drink.
And you can’t get water to the barn without a hose, right? We have special hoses that we only use in the winter, so they get pulled out too. We use the hoses that are lightweight and shrink. They are called flexible lightweight hoses, and you can find the best deals on Amazon.
These are great in the winter because as they shrink down, all of the water gets forced out and then they don’t freeze. There is a rubber center that the water goes through, so it does take longer to fill the water tank, but the extra time is worth it when I don’t have to lug 5-gallon buckets of water out to the horses. Although, it is an excellent work out! And we just store the hoses in a bucket in the garage so they never freeze.
The down side to these hoses is they don’t last forever like traditional hoses do. But if you use it sparingly, like only in the winter time, they will last a couple of years.
To me having lights in my barn and horse’s stalls is a big deal. When the time changes for daylight savings time, I go to work in the dark and I come home in the dark. So being able to see when I am making up hay bags and feed buckets is important. We added some ‘temporary’ lighting to the horses stalls as well as my feed/tack room. I use LED light bulbs, so they don’t get as hot and they don’t use as much electricity.
Then When it’s dark, and I want to shed a little light on the horses, I just flip a switch and presto! I have light!
This has been one of my most favorite additions to the barn, because it is so helpful in the dark months of winter. And it was really affordable to do. I just bought 2 garage lighting kits, secured them in the horses barn and my tack room and added the LED bulbs. All together I spent around $150.00 to do this project. It was worth every penny too.
Switching To Hay Bags
This is something I literally just started doing this week. Instead of feeding my horses off the ground, I have switched to hanging hay bags. After about a day, both of my horses figured out how to use them.
The reason I decided to try this is I want to make sure my horses are eating more naturally, you know like grazing. I even timed them eating their breakfast to see how much of a difference it made. My horses get 2 flakes of hay first think in the morning, and then 1 flake around 11:30 when they get turned out.
So I filled the hay bag with 3 flakes of hay, and then clocked how long it took them to empty the bag. The bag of hay lasted them about 3 hours! And when I feed them on the ground, they can go through 3 flakes of hay in about an hour.
So by making them eat slower, and ‘graze’, the hay lasted 3 times as long. This is much better on their digestive tract and helps them to eat smaller quantities of food over a longer period of time. And it keeps them busy. It gives them something to do. And it’s really entertaining to watch them go at the hay bag!
This way I can save hay, it’s not wasted, and they are eating for longer periods of time. Which is really important during the winter when it’s colder. And again, its better on their digestive system to eat less, longer.
I bought 2 bags at Dover for about $15.00 each, and after my successful first few feedings, I am buying more. That way I can keep bags loaded and ready to go for the mornings when I don’t have a lot of time. The same bag I got at Dover’s for $15.00, I bought from Riding Warehouse for $7.95, per bag when you buy 2 or more.
And I also bought the hardware you need to hang the bags in their stalls for $5.95. This way I can hang the bags in their stalls at night, and they can eat all night long if they want too.
It helps to prevent them from using their hay as bedding, and it slows them down on the entire eating process. I wish I would have done this sooner.
And I found an easy way to fill the bags too. I had an old trash can, and I open up the hay bag into the trash can and fold the top down over the sides. Then I carefully place the flaked hay inside. And once I get to 3 flakes I simply gather up the top, and wa-la….I have a full bag of hay ready to feed my horses!
Having The Blankets on Standby
Now some of you may not like to blanket your horses, and that’s fine. But I do blanket mine when the temperature drops below 20 degrees, or if it is really wet and windy. I have a stand that I made, and I put that at the front of the barn. And when I need to get the blankets, they are ready. The stand also works great to air the blankets out and allow them to dry, in case they get saturated.
But I move the blankets to the front of the barn, so if I need them, they are ready to go. Because putting blankets on horses when it’s blizzarding is no fun, for anyone!
Right now, I try not to blanket my horses quite yet. I want them to have a thick winter coat before I start routinely blanketing them. Especially with Ethan. He doesn’t get too thick of a coat, I’m thinking it’s because of his breed? I’m not sure, but I don’t want to stifle his preparation for winter. I reserve the blankets for when it’s really cold, or cold and wet.
Stocking Up On Hay And Feed
This is a good time to start stockpiling hay, if you can. And your feed as well. It’s a lot easier to get hay and feed when the weather is a little warmer. And during the winter, there is no guarantee that there will be hay available. So For the last several hay runs, we have been buying a few extra bales of hay. Not only to get us through if we can’t get to the feed store, but also just in case there is limited hay available. And during the winter, I also like to give my horses alfalfa cubes. I give them a quart or so in their evening feeding. So when I go and buy my pelleted feeds, I have been buying a bag or two of the cubes as well.
Bringing In Tack and Equipment
Every fall I have a tradition of bringing in all of my tack, along with sprays, and my tack trunks. I keep a grooming box and first aid kit in the barn, but that is about it. If it could freeze, it’s brought inside to weather the winter.
I won’t have nearly the opportunity to ride over the winter, like I do in the summer. So I bring everything inside. This gives me the opportunity to really clean all of my tack well and also protect any perishables from freezing. It also gives me the chance to assess what I don’t need, or never used. Then I make use of my eBay account and sell the items that I no longer need.
It’s kind of like when you purge your closet, and get rid of what you don’t wear, only it’s all related to horse stuff. And I don’t know about you, but I can accumulate a lot of stuff that I don’t need or use. I think part of the reason I accumulate so much stuff is that I buy things to try out a lot, and then share my experience with the item. If I love it, I use it. If I don’t love it, it needs to go. No sense in holding on to things you never use right?
Winter Riding Gear
Time to pack away the thin breeches and short sleeve shirts. These are being replaced with heavier breeches, and long sleeve knit shirts, sweatshirts and sweaters, and thick winter gloves.
I also bought a new pair of heavy-duty winter riding boots. They are durable, waterproof and tall, which is helpful in getting through snow drifts. And they are styled like tall boots, so I can ride in them as well. They have a thick cozy, fleece lining that keeps my toes warm when it’s so cold outside.
This is my second pair, because the pair that I did have are wearing out to the point that my feet were getting wet last winter, so I knew it was time to buy a new pair. I have found they are well worth the $50.00 that they cost in terms of keeping my feet warm and dry with all of the outside work I have to do in the winter. And I bought them a month ago, so the price was low. The last pair I had lasted me 5 years, so I think the cost was worth it. I hope the ones I got this year are as good. I guess I’ll find out after the first big snowstorm comes.
Well, there are my tips in preparing for the winter. I know I didn’t touch on everything. But hopefully you found something useful that you can apply to your own situation. If you have any tips or tricks that you do to prepare for winter, I would love to know! Leave a comment down below and share your ideas with the rest of us. That way we can hopefully have an uneventful winter!
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