Love is in the air — but is an extra kiss on your horse’s velvety muzzle the best way to show you love him? We’ve come up with the following list to help you find the best way to his heart…
1. Ride somewhere new
Spice up your routine with a visit to somewhere new to ride — either an alternative arena or place to hack. Your horse will love it — and so will you!
2. Turn him out
Boggy fields are a common sight at this time of year, but utilise any other spaces you have — a barn, arena etc — and let him stretch his legs.
3. Give him more forage
Forage — the main source of which is hay/haylage — is key to a healthy gut. Giving it to your horse ad lib (unlimited) is the best way.
4. How warm is he?
You might be feeling cold, but it takes a lot more for your horse to feel cold too. Does he really need that extra rug on? Feel underneath what he’s wearing to check for signs of him being uncomfortable.
5. Let him indulge in any sunshine
Admittedly sunshine is a rarity at the moment, but should it appear, consider allowing your horse some time standing in the sun without a rug on. His vitamin D levels will probably be lower at this time of year (and so may yours!) so it will do his coat and general health a lot of good.
6. Chop some carrots up in his feed
He’ll be delighted to find small, manageable chunks of carrot (or another healthy, horse-friendly treat) added to his feed.
7. Let him search
If you’re keen for him to eat more forage, try mixing some treats (carrot chunks for example) with his hay.
8. Give him hay in different ways
Let him choose how he wants to eat — from a haynet, in a hay bar or on the floor — by splitting his forage between all three inside his stable.
9. Give him a toy in the stable
February generally goes hand in hand with longer periods in the stable due to wet weather and freezing temperatures. Help alleviate boredom with a toy he can lick, roll around to forage for nuts or pull carrots from.
10. Book a physio appointment
When did your horse last have his back checked? Now is as good a time as any, just in time for a work increase when spring finally arrives.
11. How’s your saddle?
While we’re on the topic of checks — what about the fit of your saddle? Horses change shape all the time, especially when condition drops off and the workload decreases during winter, so it’s worth getting a professional to give your tack the once over.
12. Check his teeth
Last, but definitely not least, work out when your horse’s teeth were last checked by a vet or industry professional. A horse whose unhappy in the mouth won’t be a pleasure to ride — routine checks are a good way to catch potential problems early.
13. Spend time on the ground
If your horsey time is all about riding, allocate some time to extra grooming sessions and generally just being with him. Horses are great listeners — and it’s a great way to build your bond.
14. Let him apple bob
It’s not for every horse, but some will love chunks of apple added to their water so that they float on the top. It’s a fun game and will boost their water intake too — bonus!
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