Wednesday 14th December, 2016
Christmas is almost here; the trees are up and the stockings are hung as we make our homes truly festive ahead of the holidays. But what about our stables? Decorating the yard can be a fun event for all, especially a riding tables or livery yard with many inhabitants, but there are some important do’s and don’ts to keep your horse safe while celebrating the season.
Tinsel certainly adds a bit of sparkle to the stables, but curious horses or known crib biters may ingest the foil strands, and this could cause a gastric obstruction resulting in colic and far more serious complications such as gastric torsion, or ‘twisted gut’. Do your horse a favour (not to mention your bank balance) and avoid unwanted emergency treatment by keeping tinsel well away from your stable doors and windows.
Avoid using hanging decorations at all costs. Garlands may look very pretty hung across the ceiling of your living room, but when hung in a stable they pose a huge health risk for your horse. Horses can catch their heads and necks in low hanging strings and easily become entangled in the stable, causing panic and possible injury. Keep all hanging garlands well out of reach of horses and ponies, preferably limiting them to the tack room only.
Stables undergo a great deal of wear and tear, from both the elements and from the equines who inhabit them. If your stable has seen better days, then why not give your horse the ultimate Christmas present and update his lodgings? Quality stables and shelters can be built in as little as a few days, and a solid, draught free building will not only keep your horse safe and secure, but will undoubtedly make his Christmas a more comfortable and cosy one.
Don’t forget to give your horse a stocking for Christmas, but be careful where you hang it and what you put in it! It is a well-known fact that horses can smell polo mints at fifty paces, and they have been known to nibble through the stockings and eat the whole packet, wrapper and all. Make sure you hang your stocking well out of reach of your horse!
Horses love titbits, but we need to be careful not to indulge their sweet tooth too much, especially in the case of laminitic ponies or those who are on box rest. Generous horse owners may be tempted to share their own Christmas treats, but like dogs, horses are sensitive to the chemical theobromine in chocolate so this should be avoided at all costs. Prepare some equine safe, sweet treats for Christmas day such as carrots, apples, celery and lettuce.
Invest in some horse friendly Christmas toys to keep your horse entertained while he is stabled over the Christmas period. You can pick up some wonderful stable balls shaped like Christmas puddings to bring a bit of festivity to your stall.