Summertime, an’ the living’ is easy

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I’d been planning for a while to do a post on horse-boy’s daily routine. But then his routine changed, so now I can cover both Summer and Winter regimes.

Winter

Turnout for liveries is limited to 4 mornings a week, weather permitting (i.e. no snow, no quagmire, at staff discretion), so they have slightly different routines for “in” days and “out” days. The school horses (and any liveries that also work in the school) go out on the other days – those are their days off working. On the days when he doesn’t go out I need to exercise him either by riding or lunging. All times are approximate, because on a yard of ca. 35 horses it take time for staff to get through any given job!

An average “in” day:

  • Morning feed* & water ca. 7.00
  • Mucking out
  • Hay-net shortly afterwards.
  • Rug changes if necessary
  • 11.00 skipped out
  • 12.00 New hay-nets
  • 4.00 skip out and rug for night-time
  • 4.30 I arrive, do any admin, e.g. pay, book lessons etc. and start grooming, aiming to start riding before…
  • 5.00 Evening feed (official time) & (massive) night hay-nets. Ideally we go out to ride before he sees any other horses getting fed. In actual fact this doesn’t often happen. I do let him have the hay-net while I’m grooming/tacking up because I prefer him to have a bit of hay inside him rather than sloshing stomach acid.
  • We school for between 20 min. and 1 hr., depending on how tired I am, how well we’re working, who else is using the school and what the weather’s like.
  • Once we’re done and he’s cool enough he gets his feed. As we’ve missed official feed time I’m responsible for the feed and so I need to wait for him to finish (he’s on big feeds and eats slowly, so he takes longer to eat a meal than any other horse on the yard) so I can wash the bowl and either fill it ready for his morning feed if the building with the feed in is still open (i.e. before staff leave at 6) or leave it outside the door if not. Woe betide anyone who leaves their horse’s bowl anywhere else!

If I’m unable to get there to ride him on an “in” day I usually end up paying for him to be schooled. Schooling is more costly than getting them to lunge or hack him, but I do see the benefits, so it’s worth paying the little bit extra for schooling. But he only gets it if there’s no way I can exercise him myself.

On “out” days he goes out ca. 7.30 – 11, staying out a bit longer on pleasant days, coming in sooner if it’s very rainy. These days are less routine than the “in” days, because on two of them he and I usually have the day off from each other, on Saturdays I usually have a lesson, probably in the afternoon, and on Thursdays I usually ride after work unless I’m feeling run down in which case we have another day off. Basically the timings work much like an “in” day, but he doesn’t get the morning hay-net because he’s out on the grass.

So that’s winter, when I constantly worry about whether the weather’s good enough for him to get his limited turnout or whether I’ll end up trying to ride 7 days a week just so he gets a chance to move his feet.

But a couple of weeks ago Summer was announced… I think in a normal year Summer routine would have started earlier, but Spring was very late in the UK this year and Summer was its traditional reluctant self.

Summer routine involves being turned out nightly unless there’s torrential rain.

  • 7 .00 Brought in from field and fed “enough to make them leave the grass willingly”
  • 7.30 Rugs changed, feet picked
  • Morning hay-net. For the first week or so of summer turnout they weren’t given this as they were so round with grass they didn’t need anything more! Now the grass is down to a more normal length (these fields had been resting since the autumn) this haynet is back in the routine.
  • Snooze
  • Midday hay-net
  • 2.00 “Evening” meal
  • 2.30 Turnout rugs / fly sheets & fly masks on
  • 3.00 Turnout
  • Muck out
  • 4.30 Unless it’s a day off for us, I arrive, bring him in, groom, tack up, ride and take him back out again when I’m done.

On Summer routine he’s tired! After breakfast he settles down for a snooze (see picture above!) and when I ride he’s a lot less forward and I’m learning I need quite a lot more leg than in winter when he was cooped up and raring to go! Before we went onto Summer routine I’d never seen him lie down and only once or twice seen him dozing standing up. Now I see a lot of that if I’m there when he’s in the stable 🙂

As a typical worried first-time horse owner I was concerned when I first saw him lying like this – does that stretched out back leg hint that there’s a stiffness in the pelvis or that leg and he can’t tuck it under him? Having seen him lying down more often I now think he just likes to stretch a leg like that sometimes, because he does also lie in the more tidy manner with his legs under him when he wants to. It’s so nice to be able to see him when he’s relaxed and sleepy.

*For each feed in winter he gets 1 scoop hi-fi (ca. 300 g.), 1 scoop nuts (ca. 1.5 kg), 1/2 scoop sugar beet pulp (no idea on weight). So far he’s still on the same evening feed in the summer regime, but in the morning they’re being fed “just enough so it’s worth their while coming in from the grass.”

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4 thoughts on “Summertime, an’ the living’ is easy

  1. mellchan says:

    Are you allowed to go ride him anytime you’d like or is 4:30 open arena?

    • Sparrowgrass says:

      I usually get there at 4.30 because that’s when I’m passing the yard on my journey between home & work, so it suits me. In terms of “can I ride him anytime” … well… Access to the yard is between 8 am and 9 pm in the week, from 7 am to 9 pm at the weekend and in that sense I can ride any time in any school available of the 3. However the riding school has priority over liveries and if there’s a lesson booked a school you can’t use it. Liveries can’t book. Teaching officially happens on Wed, Thurs, Sat & Sun but the owner teaches on other days so you can’t rely on any day being totally free from lessons, although it’s not likely you’ll have a problem getting a school. Usually Wed is mental, so we have Wednesday off, but on Thursday there’s rarely much going on after 5.30 in terms of lessons. At the weekend I try to have my lesson on Sat and not ride on Sundays (or ride late in the evening when the lessons have finished). They do keep the big school free for liveries 1.00-2.00 on the weekend but as they only permit 3 horses in the school and there are about 20 livery riders who might want to use it I prefer to keep out of the scrum to get into the school then!

      • mellchan says:

        I assume liveries are equivalent to boarders 🙂 Here we can ride anytime, even if a lesson is in progress as long as we avoid getting in the way. I have been asked to leave several times when someone has paid extra to reserve the arena or if its a newbie attempting to steer for the first time, but that is pretty rare.

        Three arenas is quite large!

      • Sparrowgrass says:

        Yes, boarders 🙂 I suspect our schools are much smaller than your arena, judging by your videos. The little one is 20 x 40m, the next 20 x 60 i think and the big 30 x 60.

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