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Winter care tips for your horsebox and tack
It’s been a marvellous summer. Long sunny days have meant that shows and events have been more successful than ever, and horse riding has never been more popular. A stronger economy and more disposable income has also meant that more people can afford to take up riding and equestrian sports.
But inevitably, autumn is with us again and it won’t be long before the cold winter nights draw in. However, horses don’t care what time of year it is – they still need to be exercised and there are still some times when you’ll need to transport your horse during the winter months, whether it’s a visit to the vets, an autumn meet or steeplechase event or a trip to the farrier. So at this time of year it’s crucial to ensure that your horsebox is in good condition and that you’re ready for driving and towing a box during the wetter, colder months.
Here are a few top tips to keep you safe.
1 –Check that your tyres are in good condition
Like any other vehicle, the condition of your tyres during the winter months is just as important as it is in the summer. Perished or damaged tyres, or those with little or no tread could be incredibly dangerous when driving during wet or icy weather, so make sure your tyres are in good condition with plenty of tread left.
Also ensure that the tyre pressure is correct, as not only could it affect your fuel consumption, but it could also severely affect the handling and stability of your horsebox too.
2 – Check that all lights (including any internal lights) work
With the nights drawing in, it’s imperative that your lights, including stop lights and indicators, work correctly. Not only is it a legal requirement, but it is also an important safety feature to avoid collisions. During the winter months there is a higher possibility that you will be towing a horsebox after dark, so check that your towing board or horsebox lights are functioning correctly. It’s also important to check that any interior lights work properly too, as it’s pretty tough to try and load or off-load a horse while holding a torch in one hand!
3 – Do you have enough rugs?
During the winter the temperature can drop dramatically, and horses need to be kept warm. If you are travelling for any length of time ensure that you have enough dry rugs to keep your animals warm whilst in transit. If they have been eventing all day then the sweat can dry on their skins and lower their body temperature. A cold horse is a miserable horse, so if in doubt, pop in an extra rug just in case.
4 – Storing your horsebox over winter
Once you’ve made the last trip to the last show, it’s time to store the box for the winter. With wooden panel loose boxes it’s best to store them in a dry place if at all possible, so if you have a barn or covered space then park your box where it will have some degree of protection from the elements. Keep an eye on your
tyres, as they will deflate during the winter. Leaving them to go flat could damage the sidewalls, so keep them pumped up regularly.
5 – Keep your tack dry
It’s a rule that anyone who knows about horses should follow – never put tack away wet! Mildew and mould can quickly grow on wet leather in particular, so any tack, rugs, bandages or equipment that won’t be used until next spring should be thoroughly cleaned, dried and stored in a dry tack room.
6 – Keep up with your insurance premiums
Finally, ensure that your monthly insurance premiums for your horsebox insurance are kept up. There are almost as many thefts of tack, equine equipment and horseboxes during the winter as there are in the summer, so don’t let your policy lapse!