Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Rider’s Wednesday: Three More Fall Gotta-do’s

I spent the entire day yesterday at a big draft horse / driving horse auction in Topeka, IN. I picked up a 6 ¼” eggbutt snaffle bit to start working my 2 year old Percheron. Watched hundreds of Haflingers, spotted drafts, and grade horses go through the arena. Saw scores more Percherons, Shires, Clydes, and Belgians that will all go to new homes by the end of the week. Was appalled that prices were SCANDALOUSLY low. Made me glad I wasn’t selling. Also made me happy for what I have in the barn. There’s nothing like being grateful for what you’ve got.

It’s cold here. Temperatures are dropping fast. There's even been ice on the water trough in the mornings lately. And so, with a nod toward the rapidly approaching winter months, allow me to suggest more important things to take care of before snow flies:

1. De-Cobweb
Shorter days and frigid temperatures probably mean that your horses are going to be spending more time indoors. Use an extendable duster or old-fashioned broom and ladder to give your barn the once-over.

Not only will this make the place look better, but it will also eliminate a lot of dust that could irritate or damage your horse’s lungs. Additionally, de-cobwebbing forces you to do a detailed “sweep” of your barn, looking into corners you often ignore. Who knows what you might find?

2. Update Instructions
With the holidays coming, chances are you’ll need a barn-sitter at some point during the winter months. Take the opportunity now, when things are relatively calm (as opposed to when you’re running through the house, obsessing about missing your flight) to write detailed instructions for whoever might have to feed.

Make sure that the instructions include the type / name / brand of commercially available feed that each horse gets. Include how much feed each horse receives, how often the horses are fed, and at what times. Also write up a short “Barn Routine” that includes such things as pasture time, special instructions for latching gates or stall doors, directions for stall cleaning / manure dumping, and anything else that needs attention.

Also remember to include emergency phone numbers – yours, a trusted friend or neighbor’s, and the vet’s.

3. Scrub Buckets, Brushes, Bits, and Tack
…And everything else that needs cleaning. If you have a nice sunny day, it’s a good idea to let the buckets, brushes, and bits dry outside. Clean and oil leather goods, then get them out of the barn, unless you have a heated tack room. Extreme cold is never good for leather.

Happy cleaning! You'll be glad you did -- I promise.