Welcome to the last “hurrah” of summer. Traditionally, Labor Day weekend signifies the end of the warm days of fun and we start to entertain the thoughts of fall and even old man winter.
During this busy time of year we can use a few more hours in our day. Below are some “hacks and hints” to make the transition from summer to fall a bit easier for the equestrian in your life.
First and foremost, develop a mindset of “How can I make my fall and winter easier and more rewarding for myself?” Put on your winter glasses and see life for a few moments as if you were in the middle of a brutal winter. Think back to things you wish you had done last year to prepare for the winter.
Should you have placed your driveway reflector markers out earlier around your yard, marking the areas you didn’t want driven over in the snow? Perhaps, you waited until the last minute and weren’t able to put them in the ground, due to the ground freezing early?
This happened to me last year and made for a colorful Facebook video as I angrily shook my reflector poles at the frozen ground in defiance! After last year, I don’t care if we get an “Indian summer,” those driveway reflectors are going in the ground before Halloween!
Cleaning up the areas you frequent most should hit the top of your list. Make things neat and orderly. To do this, the local dollar store has a few items that may help. Use your imagination and you may be surprised by how much you can save. The dollar store can be your pocketbook’s friend with their scrub brushes and cheap bleach for cleaning your water buckets, floors, walls and bins. There’s time to knock down those pesky cobwebs before winter!
Pick up a soft cloth mesh laundry bag … use this bag to put your polo wraps, neoprene splint boots or bell boots when you wash them. This way they don’t twist up or damage your washer by banging around and are easier to clean.
Grab up a soap dispensing dish scrubber. Fill it with soap and scrub away on the feed bins and bars on your stalls.
A kitty litter scoop is perfect to pull the hay out of water buckets and will help fish out ice during cold weather.
Use Listerine for fungus. Use the “old style” brown regular Listerine. Put some into a small spray bottle and it will work wonders on horses that have been rubbing out their tails or manes. Just spray and comb thru and in a week or less the hair will start growing back and the itching will stop. You can also use the Listerine on your bits. Just a few squirts and a quick wipe after you ride will keep them clean and “gunk” free!
Duct tape can fix anything! From wrapping around the metal handle on a water bucket so the horse can’t get caught on it, write on it to label feed bins or horse stalls, you can even patch a blanket, duct tape is a wonder!
Baby wipes are perfect for any spill, cleanup or touch up. They’re also a quick way to clean your horse’s face and eyes. Always have some in your grooming box.
A small headlamp works great to keep your hands free when working in a dark stall, feeding at night or when you are doing a lot of close up work and the light around you isn’t the best.
Pool noodles, those fun Styrofoam pool toys, work great if cut down to fit inside your riding boots or western boots to keep the shafts upright and not crushed down.
A neat way to store your bell boots or split boots is to put a Velcro strip on the side of your grooming area and use the Velcro on the boots themselves to stick it to the strip to store them.
Another great storage idea is to use one of those canvas over-the-door shoe organizers and put your polo wraps, horse boots and grooming tools in each of the little pockets.
Instead of stacking blankets and letting mice and dust gather in them, hang up an expanding closet rod across one end of your tack room and hang the blankets up on it. If they slip, wrap the rod with vet wrap tape on the rod; it will prevent them from falling.
Your riding bits, oh they get grimy! To clean them quick and hygienically, put them in the top rack of your dishwasher and let it do the tough cleaning work for you!
Olive oil from the dollar store is a quick moisturizer for your leather tack. Just wipe leather first with a damp clean towel and then use a light layer of olive oil to moisturize it. Great for your riding boots too.
Keep your riding helmet fresh and clean. Put some rubbing alcohol in a small spray bottle and just spray the inside of your helmet after each use.
Finally, since we are headed into a cold winter, keep a can of cooking spray or jar of Vaseline handy in the barn. You will find these are great products to keep snow and ice from balling up and freezing inside the bottom of the hooves of your horses when you go riding. Just spray a little cooking spray, or apply a little Vaseline on the bottom of your horse’s hooves, to help keep the ice and snow away! Happy Trails!