Winterizing Your Tack Box
 By Winniefield Park   •   3rd Dec 2017   •   832 views   •   0 comments

As I write this snow is gently sifting downwards, and enough is already on the ground to cover the grass. Apparently there is something call meteorological winter that starts on December 1, even though itís not officially 'calendar winter' until later in the month. The cold weather and winter conditions have already begun. This means it's time to bring my tack box home, put away the summer stuff and organize the winter stuff. Actually, it's a chore that's overdue.

What Comes Out
Itís time to put away my summer gloves and fly mask. Anything fabric gets washed first and then stashed until the spring. Likewise, anything liquid that could freeze is stored at home. I may use a grooming spray during the winter, but a frozen solid bottle wonít be useful. So, it comes home and I have to remember to take it with me when I think Iím going to use it. I certainly wonít be using fly spray or shampoo. And instead of a liquid wound dressing for quick first-aid fix-ups, oil-based creams are handier in winter.

I donít keep my boots at the barn, but some of you might. If they do go in your tack trunk, itís time to clean and put away your summer boots and get out the warmer winter ones. If you didn't do it last spring, you might want to apply some waterproofing conditioner before you wear them. Iím a firm believer in cleaning and fixing things to prolong their life as long as possible. Plus, Iím a tad parsimonious (cheap) so I donít want to buy new stuff if I donít absolutely have to.

Sticky horse treats freeze hard, so instead of giving my horse a sweet ice pellet, I store those at home, and take them in a baggy in my pocket. That way they stay chewable.

Other items to clean and store are clippers, braiding elastics and other show oriented gear Iím unlikely to use over the winter. I also take out my file, scissors and anything else likely to rust if the barn stays continually damp as can happen as the season transition. I actually carry my saddle and bridle back and forth until itís consistently cold, so they donít mold in the damp. Brushes will probably get a cleaning too.

The last thing I take out of my tack box is the accumulated dirt and chaff. Itís surprising how much builds up since spring.

What Goes Back In
My lighted hoof pick will probably need a new battery. And, my bit warmer is a must for the cold weather. My winter gloves will live in my coat pocket so they are warm when I put them on, but I like to throw work gloves in. Often Iíll just go visit my horse and if there is a bale of hay to be moved or some manure to shovel, itís nice to have warm gloves handy. Of course, brushes and combs will go back into the box, as well as two lead ropes (in case one disappears), an extra halter, an old towel, and a set of cross ties, just in case the ones already there go missing or get broken.

One must-have that I use in the winter is the little packs that heat up when you shake them. I stash these in my truck and at the barn. If you get the shivers, itís amazing how one of these little squares can help you feel warmer, and prevent your fingers freezing around the reins. I buy a bulk box and it lasts me all winter.

The other must-have I always try to keep on hand and rust free is a sharp hay knife. you just never know when you have to cut up a tight bale of hay or free a horse's halter from wherever it's snagged on.

In the winter, in addition to my horseís regular snaffle bridle, I also keep a side-pull in my tack box. Sometimes in really cold weather, itís faster to use this then wait for the bit warmer to warm up her bit. And of course, her bum sheet is folded up in there too so sheíll comfortable without her winter blanket on the cold days when I ride.

So thatís how I prepare for winter at the barn. Do you change out the stuff in your tack box according to the season?
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