Having a horse is a bit like having a child – but with more mess! If you’re like most horse owners, stable care is part and parcel of your daily life. They’re a big commitment in terms of time, but any reluctance is soon washed away when you see your horse’s face over the stable door. Here are some tips to help you handle the big four (feeding, stable cleaning, grooming and watering) and make sure your horse is getting top-notch care. Some of them even help you save precious time, because who wants to be doing stable chores when you could be riding?
1. Measure and prepare feed
Obviously, your horse will need his food if you want him to be happy and healthy. While you can measure it out each time you go down, it generally saves time to buy a set of scales and a series of small buckets labelled with breakfast and dinner. On a quiet day, measure out enough meals for the rest of the week.
2. Mucking out
It’s up to you whether you use straw or shavings, but your horse’s stable needs to be kept clean either way. Some people only do light mucking out during the week and then remove the entire bed and replace it over the weekend, whereas others prefer to muck out daily. Make sure to remove any wet or soiled patches and pick out any manure. It’s easiest to do this with the horse outside of the stable.
3. Poo pick the fields
Stable duties aren’t just limited to stables, unfortunately! Remove manure from your paddocks regularly – either daily in small amounts, or thoroughly at least once a week.
4. Provide water
Make sure you fill up your buckets with fresh water each and every day
5. Groom your horse
At least once a day, a horse should get a good grooming to remove mud and dust. You should also pick out his feet and give your horse a quick brush before riding to stop dirt and mud rubbing against his skin while you ride.
6. Give adequate hay
Your horse needs enough hay or haylage to last the entire night in order to prevent ulcers and colic. Use a haynet, or just feed from the floor! You can prepare enough haynets for the entire week on one day, if you want to save time on busy days.
7. Change rugs
In the winter months especially, remember to change your rugs to suit the temperature and time of day – that snug winter duvet will be no use in the midday sun!
8. Clean buckets
Feed and water buckets (or automatic waterers) will need regular scrubbing to prevent bacteria and grime. Warm water, a hard brush and some elbow grease will be your best friends here! If stains are stubborn, some white vinegar can help to lift them.
Finish off by giving the feed room, store room, your stable entrance and any walkways a good sweep after you’ve finished the rest of your stable chores.
10. Clean your tack
If you’ve done all your regular duties, give your tack some extra attention. Wipe down leather with a clean, damp cloth, and then add leather conditioner (and polish if applicable) for clean, shiny tack that you’re proud of.