Don’t let the photo fool you, it is still wintertime where I live, in fact the snow started flying with a vengeance earlier this week. So now I have more time to figure out what to do while my riding area is covered with yet even more snow.
It isn’t as awful as it may seem I am portraying it. The down time has been allowing me to get in shape, which will HOPEFULLY improve my riding this spring and summer. And It is giving me time to build some jumps, and also to add new posts here for you to read. But one other area that can be focused on is working with my horses, without tacking up and riding.
For starts, I have to say I love playing with my horses. I think I actually spend more time grooming them, and cleaning the barn than I do actually riding. But, there are other things you can do with your horses than just grooming them when the weather or footing is not conducive to riding, and here are some ideas to get you started.
Clean out the tack room, and make a list of everything you have. Do you have a mess of tack that you tore apart last year, and never put back together? Will you need anything for the upcoming riding season? Take advantage of this down time, and the sales that a lot of online retailers have throughout the winter. For example, at the time of writing this, State Line Tack has 20% off everything. If you have been meaning to replace items, why not do it now? You will save money and time by ordering necessary items now, and getting prepared for your riding season.
Build a Barn First Aid Kit
Find a bin, and dedicate it to being your barn first aid kit. You don’t have to get fancy, unless you want to. A grooming tote works great for this, and so does a bucket, or even a milk crate. Be creative! Every barn needs a first aid kit for the horses, as well as the humans, so make your own, and have a little peace of mind that you will be ready to go in case of an emergency. And let’s be honest, with horses, there is always an emergency that comes up. You can put whatever you want in it, but this is what I have in mine, and it has suited me very well:
- Vet wrap
- 4 x 4 gauze
- Headlamp (A hands free light source)
- Box of Nitrile gloves
- Silvasorb gel (better than triple antibiotic)
- Alushield (a wound spray that seals the wound)
- Bandage scissors
- Duct tape
- Vetericyn Wound Spray (A must have for your kit, trust me!)
- Vetericyn Ophthalmic Gel
- Hand sanitizer
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Betadine swabs
- ABD pads (or feminine hygiene pads-a lot cheaper!)
- Saline solution (like for contact lenses)
- Epsom salts
- Roll of paper towels
- Band aids (all different sizes)
This is not an all-inclusive list of everything you could possibly need in your barn first aid kit, but it is a really good start! If you have the supplies listed above, you will be in pretty good shape if something were to happen at your barn.
Intense Grooming Sessions
For me, this is a no brainier! If it is around freezing, it is warm enough to be out grooming my horses! I do not have the luxury of indoor stalls, or even a light in my “barn”. But, with my headlamp, a warm coat and gloves, I can get out and groom my horses thoroughly every couple of days in the winter. It may be cold, but by doing the physical activity, I increase my own body temperature, and stay warm.
It also teaches my horses to expect me working around them while they are eating, or just hanging out in their stalls. I am able to work on desensitizing each horse by playing with their ears, picking up their feet, moving around them with my groom box, and whatever else I can think of. I like to think they enjoy my company too!
Teaching Your Horse New Skills
How about learning some new things with your horse, like teaching him to lower his head for you when you put his halter or bridle on? Or how about working on getting him to pick up his feet with a simple swipe of your hand? Or how about teaching him to side pass, or back up? All of these things can be done within your horses stall. Spend a few minutes every day working on something new with your horse until he does it with perfection and then move on to something new. It will give you something to do, and keep your horse busy as well.
Organize Your Tack or Feed Room
I am probably the messiest person when it comes to my tack room. I have stuff all over the place! But, winter is the perfect time to take everything remaining in my tack room out, and get that room organized! I should probably do it on a weekly basis, but I am not that on top of it, so usually when I run out of stuff to do is when I clean and organize, especially when I am getting anxious to start my regular spring riding routine.
The same goes for the feed room. This room I am better about keeping a little more organized, but still not the best. But usually I will clean and sweep on a weekly basis. It makes me happy every time I open the door and being able to see everything put away in its place! Now, if I could be as diligent with my tack room, I would be extremely organized, and happy, so that is the area I will be working on the most this winter.
Of course you can be building something, and no, not just horse jumps! You can also make things for your tack room, like a personalized bridle or saddle rack, a whip holder, or whatever it is that you may need in order to keep your tack room tidy, and important items close by. You could also re-purpose an old dresser, or build a shelf so you could have extra space to keep your horse related items organized.
Well with this post, as well as the previous ones, I bet I have given you a lot of different projects that you will be able to do to make the winter pass by quickly, and will also get you ready to ride. Spring is coming, I promise, but hopefully now you will be able to stay busy so the time will go quickly as you prepare.