Horse Chores For Your Springtime Checklist

Rex-Zeus-Feb2011It’s amazing how just a few weeks can impact the weather.  At the first of February, northern Oklahoma had it’s second ever blizzard warning.  Where I live, there was a record 25″ of snow.  Just a few miles north, there was a record setting 50″ and that area also set the record for the coldest temperature of -23°F.  There was snow for over 2 weeks, which is also out of the normal for Oklahoma.

Now, the temperature was close to 80°F today and the daffodils in my yard have been in bloom for about 2 weeks.  We had our first actual thunderstorm  just a few days ago.  Spring is officially around the corner!  So, it may be a good time for some spring chores.  Here are some chores that you may want to do.

At the barn:

  • Clean and condition your leather tack.  Make sure the leather is dry before applying a leather conditioner.
  • Inspect the leather for any cracks, cuts or splits.  Replace any leather that is damaged.
  • Go through your grooming kit.  Replace any tools that are broken.  This would probably also be a good time to wash your brushes.
  • Clean your clippers.  You can do this yourself or take them to a professional.  You can also have the blades sharpened at the same time.
  • Wash your winter blankets, if you are not going to need them anymore.  Store them in a dry place.  Most blankets come in a zippered plastic bag.  I have kept these to  store my blankets for the summer.  This makes for good dust free storage.
  • A warm dry spring day would be perfect to strip your stall completely (if you have one).  Let them air out for a few hours before you put bedding back in them.  If you have full board, this is probably done periodically through the year.
  • Give your trailer a good cleaning.  Do a thorough inspection and make note of any damage to floors/walls/ceiling/tackroom, worn tires, damaged lighting/wiring, etc.  Make a plan and time frame to get damage fixed.

For the vet:

  • Get vaccinations, if you haven’t already done so.  Check with your vet as to which basic vaccinations are recommended for your area.  Your vet may also have suggestions for additional vaccinations based on the age of your horse and also whether or not you show or trail ride.
  • Don’t forget to get the Coggins test.  A negative Coggins is required if you plan to show, trail Daffodils-Mar2011ride or take your horse to a riding clinic.  Most events want a Coggins that was done within a year, but a few require one that has been done within 6 months of the event.
  • Spring is also when I have my horses’ teeth checked and, if necessary, floated.
  • My gelding will have his sheath cleaned, if needed.

There is a multitude of chores that you can do in the spring.  This is just a small sample.  Plan a work day and make a list of what you want to accomplish that day.  If you don’t finish your list, add it to the next planned work day.  Don’t try to do everything all in one day . . . . your body won’t like it.

Ride With Confidence After A Fall

I’ve had my fair share of falls and most of which I’ve been able to bounce back  quickly.  It seems, though, the older I get, the more apprehensive I’ve become about getting back in the saddle.  As you’ve read, I had a pretty significant fall at the first of January.  It took almost 3 weeks for me to heal enough to walk with no pain.

Oklahoma had a record snow in February which stayed on the ground for about 3 weeks.  That is very unusual for our weather.  So a few weekends ago, the weather finally cooperated enough to allow time to ride again.

I got Dollar from the pasture, groomed him and tacked him up.  I adjusted his cinch again just before we reached the mounting block.  I can’t mount from the ground anymore because of bad knees.

With one foot in the stirrup, I was getting ready to swing over.  Then  . . . WHAM . . . a back spasm.  I had to stand on the mounting block for a bit to let the spasm subside.  I don’t know if that was caused by the accident or if anxiety played a part.  I think both.  I told my trainer I thought this might be a short lesson.

After about 5 minutes, I mounted Dollar and off we went at walk.  I had a lesson in finesse riding that day.  I did lots of straight lines, counting steps for precise turns,  leg yielding, serpentines, etc.  Gait transitions were to be clean and immediate.

Amazingly, I made it thought the entire lesson.  Dismounting was not as easy as it usually is.  I had to swing my leg over and hold on to the saddle so I could make an easy drop to the ground.  I will admit I was a little stiff, but not as much as I thought I would be.

Riding after a fall for anyone can be daunting.  When to get back on a horse will depend on how well you have healed.  Be smart about your injury.  When you are ready, try a short ride at first to access how well you have healed.  Also a good short ride will help you regain your confidence.  If you hurt too much afterward, give yourself more time to heal both physically and mentally.

Also, don’t try not to do extensive training of your horse or a demanding lesson for you.  You may find that your body just won’t cooperate.  Instead, go back to the basics.  It never hurts to refresh on the simple things.  Concentrate on giving good cues so that your horse knows what is being asked.  As stated above, have short rides at first but make them count.  As always, stop on a good note for both you and your horse.