Winter months are hard; juggling horses, getting up in the dark, icy windscreens, muddy fields all before work! I start work at 08:00am and so I have gotten my winter morning routine down to a fine art over the years. Winter for me means Hamish goes out in the field during the day and comes into his stable over night, gone are the days of a quick morning poo pick and checking they have four legs. On summer mornings I can be done in 20 minutes, easy peasy. So, if these things are sounding familiar and you want to know how I manage to get all my jobs done and horses turned out before work during the winter, keep reading.
My day starts at 5.30am when my alarm (rudely) awakens me for the day. I normally can’t get myself up at about 5.45pm and literally dress myself and leave. There is no brushing my hair or looking nice – just up and out. But, before I take you out of the door, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Get your yard clothes ready the night before, not only does this mean you can get ready in under 2 minutes but you also don’t have to fumble and crash around, turning lights on and annoying the rest of your household at such an unsociable hour.
Luckily I live only a 10 minute drive from the stables and I usually aim to be here about 6.10am. First thing I do is get the pre-made breakfasts out of the feed room and feed the boys. Having the breakfasts ready made saves so much time and means you can get started on jobs nice and quickly.
Whilst Hamish is eating I take his water bucket out, wash it out and refill it. Whilst it’s filling up I take my skip bucket in and remove the poo’s from his stable (oh yes, I have gotten good at multi-tasking over the years!). He is currently on shavings, last winter he was on straw, but I am hoping we can stick on shavings this year – it’s a lot quicker in the mornings! I use my hands to get the poos out (with gloves on, of course!), it is sooo much easier and saves messing around with the fork trying to get all of the little bits.
Once I’ve done these bits, Hamish as usually finished eating. I check him over, he has a little brush between rug changes and he’s ready to go. I always look at the weather the night before to make sure I have a rug ready the following day. I keep my most used rugs in his stable, so I have everything to hand in the morning. To save him going out any earlier than he already has to, I will also go and grab the following nights hay net, which I have usually made in advance – making your hay nets in advance means that in the morning you can just swap them over and everything is ready for the following night.
He then goes out in the field with Wizard and before I go, I have a quick sweep up of the yard. Then that’s it, I’m done. Bed is ready for the evening, along with water and hay.
I like getting everything ready in the morning for a few reasons:
- It means that after a day at work and getting to the yard in the dark, I know I can just bring straight in. If I want to ride I can and I don’t feel rushed for time, with all my jobs still to do. Also, when the weather is hideous and they have been in it all day, it is nice when you arrive to be able to run and grab them right away – well, I think so anyway!
- Should for any reason Hamish need to come in early, I know his bed is totally ready and if anyone else had to bring him in they could just chuck him in his stable and he would be fine and have everything he needs.
- I am most motivated in the mornings – yes, even in winter when it is cold and dark. Once I have managed to remove myself from the warmth and comfort of my bed, I’m up and ready to go. As the day goes on I start to lack motivation and the thought of finishing work and still needing to do my chores is not a good one!
A few final winter tips would be, if the weather gets really really cold and the taps start to freeze, you can fill up a water container the night before so you can refill water buckets (if your like me you might not have the time to unfreeze the taps first thing in the morning). Also, it is handy to leave yourself an extra few minutes to go and check the water troughs, to break any ice that may have formed over night. This is another one of those extra jobs that can make you late if you don’t leave a few extra minutes. Lastly and very importantly, get you’re coffee travel cup all ready to go the night before then in the morning you just have to boil the kettle and fill it up before you leave.
I think that pretty much covers everything. It usually takes me 45 minutes to do both boys in the morning, if I have everything ready – so it’s definitely achievable to get everything done before work. Do any of you also have early starts before work and do you have any time saving tips for winter?