Time Saving Tips to Help Make the Most of Winter

I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds winter and lack of daylight to be a bit of a problem when it comes to riding and looking after horses. It's dark out at about 5pm and between working, studying and seeing friends it can be a real juggling act to get any horsey things done before its gets too dark and I can't see what I'm doing :( 

I've learnt a few tips and time saving strategies to help get me through the dark, damp winters and give me more time for the fun stuff such as hacking, schooling and a bit of jumping before it gets too dark to ride. 

Stock up on haynets! I had 2 horses to feed every evening (and mornings too if the field was poached) and found that filling up all my haynets at the weekend saved me a bit of time each evening.

Need soaked hay? Then feeding haylage may be worth looking into, its nutritious and delicious (I can't get enough of the smell!!) and usually contains far less dust spores then normal hay thus no need for soaking! :)

Muck out, tie up haynets and refill water buckets in the morning so that you are free to do whatever you like in the evening. Make the most of the limited light and have a quick schooling or intense grooming session :)

Putting a summer sheet or fleece under winter rugs keeps the winter rugs clean and free from grease and dirt. A summer sheet can be thrown in the wash and is far easier to dry then a thick rug.

Always keep a torch handy! I've had to muck out in the dark after a power outage on more then one occasion and it's not a fun or easy experience. I really like the little head torches (can be purchased from a local hardware or agri store) as it keeps your hands free for other tasks such as mucking out or wound cleaning.

Horses use burn calories in winter just keeping warm so by putting rugs on you should in theory need to feed less. For those particularly poor doers it is worth investing in a neck cover to minimise head loss. Neck covers are brilliant for keeping horses clean and cutting down on grooming time! I would not have survived without my trusty Horseware Rugs! 

A football in water troughs keeps them from freezing over. (I'd avoid using tennis balls as I've seen first hand dogs choking on them so dread to think what would happen to an over-playful horse!)

My absolute biggest top tip that saved me both time and money is switching to rubber matting. Initially its quite expensive but they hugely cut down on the amount of bedding used. Each morning I would simply lift out poo's  and fluff up the shaving banks around the edge. The urine drains away under the mats and so the horse is dry and somewhat clean (Unless they like to sit in their own poo ... arghh!)

Do you have any time saving tips for Winter? 
It's not all bad news though - I'll have a post up soon about why Winter is great and we should be embracing it!

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