While Christmas does not tend to have as profound an effect on horses and ponies as it does on domestic pets such as dogs and cats, it is still worth bearing in mind the fact that the seasonal upheaval, festivities and occasional fireworks can all have an effect on your horse.
If you own a horse or pony, whether you keep them on your own land near to your home or on livery somewhere else, it is wise to plan ahead for the Christmas period and consider how this may impact on your horse or pony and their care.
In this article, we will look at some of the things that you should bear in mind and plan for, in order to make Christmas stable and hassle-free for your horse or pony. Read on to learn more.
Whether your horse is stabled or out at grass all winter, any horse owner will be all too aware that caring for a horse or pony requires a constant supply of essentials like hay, feed, straw and other things that you may have to rely upon other people to deliver.
Ensure that you get in any orders for essentials like hay and feed well ahead of time, because many suppliers and merchants will be closed for a few days or even longer during the holidays, and if you order some of your supplies from online retailers, these may of course be delayed in the holiday post.
Having a regular routine is important for horses and ponies, who need to know when they are going to be fed, let out and brought in for the night. You should try hard to ensure that this routine remains constant even when other things are changing, such as often happens at Christmas, and if you rely on other people for lifts to and from the yard or someone else feeds or let your horse out, find out how this will affect your plans and how to get around it.
On Christmas day, try to make some time to spend an hour or two with your horse or pony, to groom them, check them over and take care of their usual care requirements. It is wise to have a plan in advance for when and how you are going to get to the yard, which may mean postponing your own festivities of course-but it can be really nice too to have a little bit of time out for some quiet time on the yard with your horse, away from all the festive business!
If your yard offers full or part livery, they will almost certainly have arranged cover over Christmas day for their usual jobs-after all, this is all part of running a business caring for animals, which does not take a day off when it suits people!
Double-check this ahead anyway, and find out if anything is changing-and even if your horse or pony is usually cared for by yourself, you may be able to ask the yard to turn your horse out or bring them in on the day itself if you want to try to avoid making two trips to the yard.
Christmas day is a great time to enjoy a ride, either alone or with a friend or two who may want to meet up. The roads tend to be much quieter on Christmas day, which is nice, but it is also worth bearing in mind the fact that people who are driving may also be expecting the roads to be quieter too, and be going faster than usual.
Make sure you wear plenty of high-vis safety gear when riding on Christmas day, and bear in mind that if you are very unlucky, some of the drivers out and about, particularly from lunchtime onwards, may be a little too far into the festive spirit and may not be paying as much attention as they should.
These days, Christmas and New Year often sees people setting off fireworks to celebrate the season, and you can never be totally sure when this is likely to happen.
In many rural areas, fireworks will be distant and so not have such a big impact on horses and their owners as they do on pets in suburban areas, but horses do often get spooked by fireworks, and you should plan accordingly.
Whether your horse or pony will be better off in the field or stabled when fireworks are in the offing is something that you will have to decide upon on an individual basis-if your horse is stabled, you might want to shut the top of the stable door to block out some of the flashes and bangs. Also, leaving a radio on can help to mask the sounds, and keep your horse calmer.
If your horse really panics at bangs and flashes and they are stabled, you may want to consider using travel boots and other guards on your horse overnight, to minimise the chances of them doing themselves an injury if they panic within the enclosed stable.
It is also a good idea to arrange to go along and check your horse in the evening if you know there are going to be fireworks, or think that there might be, to see that they are not getting into a mess.
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