Empty your horse’s stable and give it a thorough clean. You’ll want to do this in warm weather and while your horse can stay out for the night. Remove the bedding and any rubber matting, and thoroughly sweep out the stable and remove cobwebs. Then wash the stable walls and floor with an appropriate disinfectant and a power washer, if you have one. While the rubber matting is out, disinfect and power-wash that, too. Check any fixtures and fittings in the stable for damage, then once the stable has fully dried, replace the matting and bedding.
Mend broken fencing and tricky gates.
Clean up pieces of spare tack. They can become stiff and mouldy if left unattended for a while, so give them a good clean and leather items an oil.
While you’re moving around the yard, keep an eye out for any areas where rodents are getting in and block them securely. Rats can chew through most materials, so attach a piece of steel mesh over your repair as a back-up.
Give your tack a good clean and oil if necessary. For that extra finishing touch, polish the metal parts – but don’t use metal polish on the bit, just buff it with a clean, dry cloth. While you’re cleaning it, check for any repairs that need doing.
Give your grooming kit an overhaul, and wash and disinfect all your brushes.
Replace damaged water and feed buckets.
If you have planters or hanging baskets on the yard, replace dead plants with new ones. If you don’t have any, buying some will really brighten the place up.
Any items you don’t need or use can be sold at a horsey jumble sale. Not only will it clear out clutter in your tack room, but the money can go towards any new items you’ve had your eye on.
If you’ve noticed any problems around the yard, such as poor drainage or damaged guttering, get it fixed sooner rather than later while it’s fresh in your mind.
Pull out everything in your hay barn, feed room and tack room, and thoroughly sweep them all out, removing cobwebs as you go. If you’re worried about the dust, you could protect yourself by wearing a dust mask. As well as making these areas clean and tidy, if you do have any rats lurking around it could frighten them off. They don’t like change, so regularly moving everything around and sweeping behind things, such as feed bins and hay bales, will put them off making a home there and they will hopefully move on.
Put up a tool tidy or some nails in the wall to hang your mucking out tools on.
Your yard might be well-swept, but what about other areas around the yard? The non-essential areas often get less attention in the winter, and wind can blow hay and bedding everywhere. Sweep areas of hardstanding and rake areas of gravel or grass.
Send your horse’s rugs off to be cleaned and repaired, and then pack them away in sealed plastic bags. It’s best to get it done before you forget and find you have to use dirty, damaged rugs next winter – we’ve all done it!
Clean out the guttering around your stables to remove leaves and other debris, so that it functions properly.
While the weather is warmer, take the opportunity to scrub out the water troughs in the fields – they are probably green and slimy, and full of dead leaves.
Invest in some plastic storage boxes, so that when you’re clearing out your tack room you can store similar items tidily together. Mark the boxes with a permanent marker so that you know where everything is at a glance, without having to rummage through everything all the time.
Paint stables, and treat wooden structures and fencing.
Give your trailer a spruce-up and get it serviced, so that it’s ready for the summer shows. Disinfect the inside and the ramp, get any repairs done, check the tyres and oil any stiff or squeaky parts. You could also get super-organised and load it up ready with the items you like to take with you, such as spare tack, a first-aid kit, water containers, buckets and sponges, and a grooming kit.