Winter, The word itself for most people put images of toasty open fires and hot chocolate watching your favourite Christmas movies. However for the equine enthusiast it brings images of muddy fields, frozen troughs and defrosting water pipes.
The goal for the most part is trying to keep your turnout area as mud and ice free as is practical so your horse/pony can be as comfortable as possible. Whilst also preserving your summer grazing. A lot of people have a small paddock that they are willing to sacrifice for their horses to go and get a few hours out in the fresh air, blow off some steam and have a nice dirty roll around, whilst ensuring it takes you as long as possible to get them ready when you do find time between mucking out and filling hay nets to go for a ride.
Top tips for winter grazing:
- Be vigilant about worming, and change your wormer occasionally to suit your horse’s needs. Doing regular worm counts is absolutely vital in the control of worms in a yard. Knowing that different horses are more susceptible to having a high worm count and to treat on an individual basis.
- Never introduce sudden feed changes as this can cause colic. When changing the feeding programme do so over a number of days.
- Keep hay and other feed off the ground by using hay nets and hook on mangers on gates (Stubbs s5pe is the perfect option on page 205 of the Mackey catalogue), as this reduces the chance of your horse ingesting intestinal parasites from manure.
- Remove the manure from the paddock each day (Stubbs stable mate manure collector and rake on page 219 of the Mackey catalogue works a treat) and put it in your muck heap again reducing the chance of your horse ingesting parasites from the eating off the ground if they are picking around themselves.
- Always leave a tap dripping if you think it is going to be very cold as this will stop your pipes freezing and save on an awful lot of boiling kettles.
- Be well prepared and well dressed for the weather. Good quality footwear can be the difference between staying upright and slipping and ending up in a heap, and also your feet turning into blocks of ice.(Grubs footwear starting on page 65 of the Mackey catalogue have all the qualities for the perfect winter boot, Waterproof, Warm, Comfortable with a Grip that cannot be compared to any other boot)