6 Top Winter Tips

6 Top Winter Care Tips for Horse Owner

By Wendy Talbot on 20 November 2018

The bad news is that winter is fast approaching but the good news is that by following our six top tips you should be ready to tackle it head on.

Put your winter rugs in order:

Making sure that rugs are clean, waterproofed and rip-free now means they will be ready then you need them. It’s also worth checking that they still fit properly, especially if you have a youngster who did some growing over the summer!

Clean your stables:

If your horse has been living out during the summer now is the time to give the stable a proper spring clean. Hose down rubber matting, sweep the cobwebs from the corners and brush the dust from the walls. Water and feed buckets are also likely to benefit from a good scrub.

Get the oil out:

Give latches, bolts and locks some care – check they open and close smoothly. You’ll thank yourself that all these things are easy to operate when you are rushing around on a winter’s night in semi-darkness, with your cumbersome gloves on. And don’t forget to oil your wheelbarrow wheel too – it will make all the difference when you are pushing it, fully laden, across a muddy field.

Order your hay and bedding:

Winter can be a stealthy beast –a balmy autumn can transform into gale force winds and rain overnight. Your laid back, field kept horse can suddenly become a fire breathing maniac, churning green fields into plough in an instant. With hay and bedding stocked and ready you will be properly organised for when your snorting, weather-sensitive monster decides it’s time to come in overnight.

Have your clippers serviced:

Hurriedly packed away after the last clip at the beginning of the year, it’s easy to forget that your clippers might need servicing and the blades sharpening. Send them away to a service company now and they’ll be ready for when you need them. Well-maintained clippers will not only last longer but they will give your horse a better and more comfortable clip too.

Lag your water pipes:

We all hate humping buckets of water, especially when trying not to fall over on an icy yard in the middle of winter. While lagging your pipes probably won’t prevent them from freezing in the very coldest weather it should protect them during heavy frosts. Foam pipe insulation is easy to fix and can be doubly secured with a handy piece of baler twine or some gaffer tape!

Other related content: 

Caring for your Your Guide to Winter Horse Care

2. Give the saddle special treatment

Your saddle is a complex bit of kit and needs special treatment. Yes, you need to condition it after cleaning, but you need to be very careful about the girth straps because too much oil can weaken them3 and it’s important for safe riding that they remain strong. So condition the girth straps roughly once a year, but condition the rest of the saddle more frequently.

You should also invest in a proper saddle rack and saddle cover  – the former to help the saddle keep its shape and the latter to keep the dust off. Avoid stacking saddles on top of each other because this can damage the leather.

To manage your horse’s health routine – try our HorseDialog mobile app

3. Be on the watch for mould

Mould is a menace in the damp British climate. It can eat away at your horse tack, causing potentially dangerous equipment failures.4
Good ventilation helps to reduce the spread of mould, but don’t be tempted to leave your saddle in hot sun as a mould-prevention strategy; too much sun exposure will damage the leather too.

To reduce the risk of mouldy horse tack, clean it thoroughly with a water-based cleaner, make sure it’s dry before putting it away and keep your tack room well aired if possible.

4. Take extra care in winter

Think about how your skin feels in winter when you’re going from the freezing outdoors to the overheated indoors and back again. It’s the same thing with your horse’s tack: sudden changes in temperature can be very drying. So in winter, take extra care over conditioning your horse tackafter cleaning.

Winter might also be a time for you to take a break from riding, which means your horse tack will be stored for a while. If so, give your tack an extra good cleaning and conditioning session and make certain it’s completely dry before putting it away.

5. Ask the manufacturer

There is a huge range of different tack-care products on the market, some much more expensive than others. The wrong product, or a product used in the wrong way, could do more harm than good. To be sure that a product is right for a specific piece of tack, check the manufacturer’s guidelines. They often have a list of recommended products. If you’re still not sure, it might be worth contacting the manufacturer directly. They’re the experts on what’s right for the horse tack they make.

Other related content: 

Caring for your Horse’s teeth 


[1] Horse Magazine  

[2] Chronoof horse.com

[3] Saddlesense.com 

[4] Horsechannel.com 



Wendy graduated from Bristol University in 1999. She then went on to complete a residency at Liverpool University and holds a European Diploma in Equine Internal Medicine. After working in practice for 13 years, she joined Zoetis in 2012 as the National Equine Veterinary Manager.

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