Baby, it’s cold outside…but it won’t be forever. Before you know it, winter will be a fading memory and the season will be in full swing. We asked championship riders and professional trainers what horse owners should do to get ready for spring and compiled their answers for you. If you want to ride like a pro, try preparing like one.
1. Schedule spring vet appointments. Make sure your horses are set to be seen for routine vet exams, vaccines, and dental care by booking the appointments now.
2. Keep on top of farrier work. Winter brings its own hoof-care concerns. Whether you keep your horses shoed and or have them go barefoot in the winter, maintaining healthy hooves will make the spring transition much smoother.
3. Get fly gear ready for spring. Don’t wait for pests to be a problem. Gather fly gear and check its fit and condition now so it’s ready to use when your horse needs it.
4. Create your calendar. If you’re riding competitively, make a list of all the events you want to attend during the year and put them on your calendar. This will help you plan training and logistics while keeping your goals literally in sight.
5. Clean your tack. We’re not talking about a quick once-over, but a good, deep cleaning. Get it gleaming in a way you don’t have time for during the busy season.
6. Wash the warm-weather blankets. You know how hard it is to get the blankets washed when they’re in daily use, so grab a good book and take a trip to the laundromat for a mass cleaning.
7. Keep riding your horse. An elite athlete doesn’t stop training during the off-season, and neither should your horse. Riding all winter prevents injury and keeps them physically fit for competition. Even if your horse is on vacation for the winter, they need exercise. Turn-outs may not be big enough; get them out and active.
8. Feed mineral salt. Stress and dehydration are big winter concerns. Offering mineral salts to keep them drinking and promote good health so they’re ready for spring training, is an excellent option.
9. Work on your horse’s body condition score. Now is the time to make tweaks that will improve their score before competition season. Do they need fattening up? Slimming? Work with a vet or equine trainer to formulate a plan to take you through the rest of the year.
10. Set up a chiropractic visit. Having a chiropractor evaluate your horse before you bring them back to work will make sure their body is aligned correctly. Correct alignment prevents soreness and allows your hose to carry himself properly and use his body well.
11. Do some serious cleaning. If you touch it in the warm months, clean it now–and don’t overlook things like horse brushes. To clean those, dunk them in a bucket of soapy water and let them dry so they’ll be ready to care for the spring coat.
12. Get clipping. If you body clip your horses, make sure to get them fully clipped before the end of January. If you wait until February, the summer coat will already be growing.
13. Do trailer maintenance. Clean and perform necessary maintenance on your ride so you’re ready to roll when it’s time.
Got a tip of your own? Tell us what you think horse owners should do in the winter to prepare for spring.