Are you giving your horse time off over Christmas? A few days off, a lighter work load or just some well earned down time? Are you turning your horse out over the festive break or keeping your horse stabled? Whatever you decide to do, if you do give your horse some rest time, here are some great tips on keeping them happy during the holiday season.
Horses will be quite happy out in the field. If they are clipped do make sure they are rugged well and that you check their rugs on a regular basis. Check all clips and buckles are fastened and that leg straps and circles are correct.
Check the fencing is secure and safe. No sharp nails or broken rails. With electric fencing make sure the tape is taught and the battery is connected.
Fresh water must always be available. If temperatures drop check it has not frozen. Break the ice if required. Buckets must be cleaned out regularly.
Poo pick regularly and check for any rubbish or debris that may need removing. If feeding hay – top up as required and remove any soiled hay.
Pick your horses feet out regularly and groom/re position rugs as required.
If you keep your horse in over Christmas then have a read of these great tips to make sure their time in the stable is a happy one.
Horses are herd animals and therefore like company so if possible allow others to be stabled near to your horse. As long as they are quiet neighbours and are not going to cause your horse distress!
Put some safety mirrors up in your horses stable. Looking at himself can keep him entertained and be comforting.
Haynets are great ways to keep your horse trickle feeding over long periods of time. Select one with small holes so it takes your horse longer to eat. Tubs or blocks of licks are a great way to alleviate boredom and get some minerals into your horse too. They can be on the ground, fixed to the wall or suspended from a rope.
Keeping them occupied
Vegetable peelings (carrots,parsnips, apples, pears etc) are great little treats to boost your horses spirits. You can also try putting a swede on a rope and hanging it from the ceiling or wall for them to nibble at and play with.
Leave a radio on so your horse has constant back ground noise. Sometimes even the music can be relaxing for them!
Regular grooming and massage sessions are a must. Keeping the contact with your horse is vital and grooming and massaging are ideal for this. A good grooming session will not only remove dust and dirt but also help to promote blood circulation and healthy skin and coat. Make sure you pay good attention to your horses feet to avoid thrush from setting in.
And don’t forget…
Pick grass for your horse and feed it to him; from a bucket or just off the floor. He will appreciate this especially if you cannot hand graze or turnout.
Make sure the bedding is suitable and plentiful. Shavings are great if you have a greedy horse who may eat all their bed, they are also great for horses with respiratory issues too. Banks need to be built in to help prevent the horse getting cast and rubber matting is also great for cushioning.
Last but not least…
Do remember to regularly skip and muck your horse out and refresh bedding and forage as required. Horses can go to the toilet around eight times per day so keep an eye on droppings littering up the stable. If your horse is wearing rugs then remember to take these off regularly. Make sure to check underneath and to re position. Keep an eye on the amount of rugs and your horses temperature. It is better to use layers rather than one heavy rug. You can remove or top up as required.