Wednesday 3rd May, 2017
Spring is definitely in the air and as your horse starts to enjoy warmer days and lighter nights, now is the perfect time to turn your attention to your yard. Horse care under the cover of darkness during winter can leave your yard looking less than its best, so schedule a weekend in your diary to make sure that everything from your muck heap to your ménage is in tip top condition.
First things first, let’s focus on your stable. If your horse has been kept in for long periods over the winter then you have likely been using a deep litter bedding system. Deep litter saves both time and money, but if left for longer than 6-8 weeks the ammonia from urine can create an undesirable environment for both you and your horse. Dust all the doors and windows and remove all bedding early in the morning, including the stable matting if you have any. Scrub the floors with non-toxic stable sanitiser to remove any bacteria and leave to air dry, then lay a fresh bed of shavings or straw in the evening, paying particularly attention to rebuilding the banks.
Tack rooms, feed rooms and other storage areas can become quite neglected over the winter, with items being thrown in any old how as you battle the elements. This spring, go through your grooming and feeding equipment and get rid of anything that is broken, hasn’t been used in over 12 months or is past its expiration date. If you don’t have a dedicated storage area then now is the time to update your stables and invest in a purpose-built tack room where you can safely and securely store saddlery, rugs and other equipment.
Removing soiled bedding from your stable is a daily operation, and busy yards with many stabled horses may find that their muck heap quickly becomes unmanageable if not maintained correctly. Ensure that any spills are quickly swept up and that your muck is contained within fencing or walls, always filling it from the back first. Transferring muck from the main heap to another area, preferably away from the yard, can help reduce flies and midges as well as unpleasant odours on warm days, and you can offer free bags of manure to passers-by to help reduce the work load.
The show season is right around the corner so now is the perfect time to kick start the fitness regime for you and your horse. Although the weather is warmer, your paddocks are still likely to be pretty soft underfoot so make sure that your ménage is in good condition. Regularly rake your ménage to avoid any pits forming and look out for any areas where the lining may be ripped or exposed.