The winter months and unpredictable British weather, cold temperatures and fewer daylight hours can mean that running an equestrian yard during the winter is a whole different ball game. In addition to tending to the horses and the usual yard maintenance, the darkness, ice and snow of the winter months can bring a plethora of additional issues to contend with. During these months, it is even more important to make sure your equestrian yard is as efficient as possible. As experienced owners of the Sheepgate yard, we have put together our top 10 tips for surviving winter and making your yard more efficient…
#1 Tip for Surviving Winter - Keeping an Eye on the Weather
The key to making your equestrian yard more efficient and surviving the winter is to be prepared. Keeping an eye on the weather forecast as much as possible during the winter months will help you to stay ahead. Being aware of when there are likely to be gale-force winds, frost and snow will help you to be as prepared as possible so that you can take the necessary precautions to keep your yard in good condition.
#2 Tip for Surviving Winter - Get Ahead with Yard Maintenance
Before the cold winter months set in, there are a few maintenance tasks we recommend you get ahead with, to ensure your equestrian yard runs as efficiently as possible over the winter. Check to make sure there are no leaks in the stable roof and lift, clean and replace any rubber matting in your yard stables so it is not as difficult to muck out. In addition to the stable maintenance, check your yard buildings and replace any rusting or damaged screws or bolts before the frost sets in – doing this now will prevent a whole host of problems further down the line.
#3 Tip for Surviving Winter - Planning Ahead for your Horses
To make running your yard easier and more efficient over the winter months, plan ahead by preparing hay nets and feeds in advance with coloured buckets for each horse. Your horses are likely to spend more time in their stable over the winter months so ensuring you have good quality hay in the stables will help to reduce dust and improve ventilation.
#4 Tip for Surviving Winter - Ice Ice Baby
The morning after a cold winter’s night, make sure to break up and remove any ice which has formed in the water troughs, as this will stop the water from freezing as quickly. You can also ensure the horses in your yard will still be able to access drinking water if their trough freezes by having insulated supply pipes.
#5 Tip for Surviving Winter - Looking After Yourself
Your yard and your horses are relying on you during the winter months, so in order for your yard to be more efficient, you need to be looking after yourself to make sure that you are well enough to run the yard. Don’t just make do during the winter and get cold and wet, ensure that you have the right gear to stay warm and dry. In particular, we recommend Ariat Boots or Wellies as well as Ariat Gloves, to help you to stay cosy and warm whilst working on your equestrian yard.
#6 Tip for Surviving Winter - Preventing Freezing
To ensure you have access to water on your equestrian yard during the colder months, lag the pipes and shake hoses to prevent the water from freezing. In addition, regularly clear gutters and downpipes to prevent the pipes from freezing over and bursting. Taking these preventative measures will help prevent problems in your yard further down the line and help to make your yard more efficient.
#7 Tip for Surviving Winter - Preventing Hazards
As well as taking precautions to ensure that pipes do not freeze over, to make your equestrian yard more efficient we also recommend throwing salt on the floor to prevent ice from becoming a dangerous hazard. Consider also getting paddock mats to cover the ground at field entrances, gates and walkways which could become muddy and then turn to ice. Also keep antifreeze on hand to ensure that you are not caught out by a cold spell.
#8 Tip for Surviving Winter - Let there be Light
During the winter season, the nights draw in, with the shortest day of the year having less than 9 hours of daylight. To make your yard as efficient as possible, keep the correct light bulbs on hand for your tack room, stables and other yard buildings in case a bulb goes out in the afternoon once it is already dark. Another top tip is to keep a torch nearby at all times during the winter months.
#9 Tip for Surviving Winter - Tidy Tack Room, Tidy Mind
Prior to the start of the winter season, tidy your tack room and remove any unnecessary items. As well as being good practice to make your yard more efficient throughout the year, tidying your tack room is particularly important during the winter months when you might need to quickly find items such as a torch or antifreeze.
#10 Tip for Surviving Winter - Take Turns on Turnout
To make your equestrian yard more efficient during winter, rotate your field turnout. Rotating turnout is essential during the colder months because pastures cannot continue to live through constant grazing when the ground is soft.
Making your Yard more Efficient During the Winter Months
There is no denying that running an equestrian yard during the winter months can be challenging. As a result of the additional challenges brought by the cold, dark British weather, it is even more important to make your yard as efficient as possible during the winter months. Being prepared is vital when it comes to making your equestrian yard more efficient during the winter. But it is also important that you wrap up warm and look after yourself, so that you stay fit and well to continue running your yard. Shop our range of winter yard essentials now.