In part two of this blog series, we are going to finish talking about preparing your horses, barns, and stables for winter!
Hello trail friends, and welcome back to the blog! We hope that you've been working on going through the checklist we shared with you in part one of this blog and putting it to good use for your horses, stables, and barns! We also hope that it helped prepare you with any last-minute items you might have forgotten or might have not even thought about. For all of our first-time horse owners, we know that every changing season brings another lesson to learn, more excitement, and even more surprises. Owning a horse for the first time is very similar to having a child. It is a beautiful and magnificent creature that needs your help, dedication, and care. The longer you have your horse you find out more and more things that all the manuals and books never mentioned. They're worth it though, aren't they?
While so many people might hate the cold weather, especially for those not used to it here in Charleston or the South East, it might surprise you that it can still be a very wonderful and beautiful season with your horse. There is nothing quite like seeing a horse crunch its way through a frosty field in the morning while their breath puffs up around their head. There is also nothing like watching a horse play in the snow, but that might be an even rarer event here in Charleston. You might have to make a trip up north to see that! To make this winter season as special as it can be, make sure to take this blog to heart. Make sure to follow all of the tips, suggestions, and ideas we are providing in both of these checklists to allow both you and your horse to enjoy this chilly season. If you put the work in, this will be an easy winter to navigate and work through. After this crazy year, that is something we all need, right?
For all of our horse owners, don't forget that we have some of the best horse boardings right here in Charleston. We are here to help care for your horse when you need it most. If your stables are barns are ill equipt for the season, if you need to go out of town on an emergency, or just need an extra pair of hands Middleton Equestrian Center boarding is here for you. Please don't hesitate to reach out and talk with us if you have any questions or comments about our horse boarding! Also, we are still open for our historical trail rides! Dress in layers and come see the Lowcountry in a way you never have before! We are still following all COVID precautions, and what better way to adventure out and stay socially distant than on the back of a beautiful horse? If you are still looking for a wonderful holiday or end of the year gift, shop small and give big with Middleton this year! Gift cards are available to give to all of your loved ones. Introduce them to the best horseback riding in Charleston, and share some of the best horseback riding trails in Charleston with your loved ones. Make sure to visit our website to learn more, and we are always here for all of your questions!
Let's get back to the blog series, shall we? We still have a little wiggle room for these last-minute additions for winter preparations since it has been a mild winter here in the Lowcountry so far, but as we all know that can change in an instant. Let's get back to work!
COMFY AND COZY!
As we mentioned in the first part of this blog, your horse will be burning a lot more calories during the winter months to keep them warm. While they are burning these calories to stay warm and eating more to help with this, they will still need a little extra protection from the cold. Allow their natural coats to grow out as much as possible, but keep up with their grooming habits and schedules. If you plan or working or training your horses hard during these cooler months, keep them trimmed. This will make sure that they will not get overheated during their training and work sessions. In either of these situations, make sure to have warm, waterproof, and lightweight blankets to provide extra warmth throughout the winter. Make sure to check your horse's skin often when they wear their blankets for extended periods. Blankets, while extremely helpful, can cause irritation and sores from rubbing or long term wear if not properly taken care of. Before blanket wearing weather arrives, make sure to inspect and clean each of your blankets, since it has been almost a year since they were last used or touched. Replace and repair them if needed before it gets too cold. Also, make sure you have enough blankets for all of your horses. Your younger horses might have had a growth spurt since the last time they wore their blankets, and your older horses might have lost some weight due to their age. If more blankets need to be purchased for these reasons, make sure to do so! Blankets need to fit your horses properly. Ill fitted blankets can cause irritation, be unsafe, or not provide the warmth your horses need while wearing them.
The cold weather will attack one of your horse's most fragile parts of their bodies, and that is their feet! Make sure if they are going to be shod all winter that you pick the proper shoe fittings with your Ferrier. You can choose shoes that will help them navigate the snow and ice much easier and help them prevent slipping. Regardless if you are going to be choosing to keep your horses shod or not, their hooves need to be cleaned of cold wet mud and ice every day to avoid infection and irritation. Make sure that they are also dry at the end of their day when they are put back into their stables. If you are choosing to go without shoes for the winter months, make sure to do so before it gets too cold, and give them time to acclimate to this change.
Make sure your horse has a proper and thorough visit with the vet before the cold weather hits and stays around for a while. It might have been a minute since their winter or spring checkup, and this is a good opportunity to catch any early issues or help prevent anything that could potentially happen to them during the cold months. This can be a great time to ask for other supplements and additives for your horses from your vet to help make the winter months healthier and happier for them. Make sure you give your horse a good balance of indoor and outdoor time throughout the winter. However, it is important to make sure that they are kept away from deep snowdrifts and extra icy paths to prevent slipping and damage done to their legs. Make sure the ventilation in your barns and stables is enough to keep fresh air flowing throughout, enough to limit dust and debris build-up, but not enough to cause drafts in the barn. Your horse's skin can become extra sensitive through the harsh cold months so if it is possible, exercise them in a dry and clean area through the winter!
Also, consider your health, safety, and comfort this time of year. If you get sick and you're unable to care for your horses, what will they do without you? Make sure you have the proper winter clothing to keep you warm and safe while being comfortable enough to do your job and daily tasks of caring for your horse. Also, think about your day to day tasks and duties, and ways to make them easier. One way to help is to insulate your hand tools. You can cover them with blankets when they're not being used, store them in styrofoam, or you can even slip styrofoam pipes over the handles of all of your hand tools to create a little extra insulation. Grabbing or using very cold hand tools can be cold enough to burn, even when wearing gloves. Make sure to properly clean all of your hand tools before these winter months and before the new year. When you get into the depths of winter, you won't want to stop and make time for doing simple tasks like that, you will want to get your work done and get back inside.
This is also an excellent time to service all of your power equipment on your property. Check all of the engines, oil levels, lubricants, and tires on your tractors, mowers, trucks, snowblowers, and all of your powered equipment. When stocking up on equipment and supplies for the winter, don't forget back up items to help with broken hand tools, power tools, and all of your vehicles. Again, you want all of these items to be working properly so when the bad weather comes, you won't get stuck with a broken-down tractor, truck, or snowblower on the bad weather days.
Time to get to work friends! We have been busily working on all of these things ourselves; preparing our horses, barns, stables, tools, equipment, and ourselves for what's to come. Our staff has been working as hard as ever to not only prepare for this but to keep up with keeping our stables and riding equipment sanitized to help keep us all safe during the cold weather. We are thankful that the temperatures during the first few weeks of December have felt more like fall, but who knows when that will change. We also want to thank each of you for what this year has been. You have helped us continue to share our passion and love for our horses and our horse trails. You have helped us continue to show off the beautiful land of the Lowcountry, and you helped keep all of our staff and fellow guests safe and happy. We couldn't be more thankful for all of that! We aren't sure what 2021 will bring, but we hope it's truly a year to celebrate. Stay safe and healthy friends, we can't wait to see you on our trails in the new year! From all of us at Middleton Equestrian Center, we wish you a very Horsey Holiday and a very Horsey New Year!
The Finish Line of 2020
Every industry has been touched by the effects of the current worldwide pandemic. The world of horses and horse racing has been no stranger to these impacts.
Since the pandemic shut the world down in February and March, every industry has felt those reverberations. Quickly gaining on six months of this strange new world here in the Lowcountry, we too have felt the world shifting. We have changed our policies and what services are available to our riders and guests to keep everyone safe and healthy. When the nation started closing down and canceling major events, it was no surprise that horse tracks and horse races started to shut down and cancel in the footsteps of the NBA, NFL, MLB, and the PGA. Every industry has felt the shock waves of these effects, and all of us at home have felt the tremendous loss these decisions have caused.
Out of the safety of our nation and its people, we recognize the importance of these decisions, but there is plenty still left to mourn. What should come as a surprise is that even though it drastically changed, the industry of horse racing didn't actually shut down. In a recent interview, racing analyst Randy Moss mentioned that even though the world has changed and we've adapted to an online world, the world of horse racing can't be stopped. He said, "You can't water or feed horses through Zoom. They can't get veterinary care through Zoom!" So, those behind the scenes, almost 1500 people to every 1000 horses at each American race track according to Moss, have kept the industry afloat. The needs of these living and breathing creatures depended on quick action, which is exactly what happened. Decisions were made to keep both the industry and the industries employees alive and well.
This doesn't mean that every race and event went on as normal. Once things started to shut down it was almost like a domino effect, and it was felt globally.
One of the largest blows our industry saw was the postponement of the Kentucky Derby. For the first time since 1945, it was pushed back to a different date. After weeks and months of waiting, Churchill Downs announced that the race was going to be moved to September 5th. With this change, the entire set up of the Triple Crown was completely changed. For the first time in its 152 years, the Belmont Stakes started the Triple Crown instead of ending it. On July 20th, the race still went on as planned. Here too, no fans were present. Tiz The Law took first. The hope that the Kentucky Derby would be able to have fans in the stadium was still in the works when the date was pushed back. Many believed that by September, things would be looking much different.
During June and early July of this year, it was announced that 14% of the Derby's capacity would be allowed to attend in person. Social distancing and masks along with frequent hand washing and sanitizing were going to be strongly suggested. Whether masks were going to be enforced or not was never solidified, according to CBS news. This decision and the uncertainty of masks were met with skepticism. As weeks went on and the spike in Coronavirus cases went up drastically, the executives of Churchill Downs decided to change their minds. According to CNN, the race will still be run, but without a crowd. The 14% capacity was still 23,000 fans, and that was too much for comfort. Kentucky governor, Andy Beshear, has praised the decision according to CNN. Although it is a tragic disappointment and loss, it is understood. Following the Kentucky Derby will be the Preakness Stakes on October 3rd, officially finishing the Triple Crown of 2020.
The derby was one of the last big sporting events to see such a change. 2020 has been a huge blow to every industry and sports lovers alike. Throughout Europe, with pandemic numbers looking more promising, they are hopeful for races that were postponed to the fall. Many of these races will be run much later than they ever have been before. They hope that by pushing them back they will be able to amp up even more excitement and be able to have some, even if it is limited, crowd engagement. What has 2020 done to your connection to the world of horses? Comment below - we want to hear from you! Until next time, stay safe and stay hopeful.
Middleton Place Team