Take the Winter Solstice Chore Efficiency Test

This year Winter Solstice, the day with the shortest amount of daylight, occurs on December 21. For most of us in North America we can pretty well count on the kind of weather we’ll have that day: cold, dark, rainy, windy. Maybe even snowy or icy. For those who’ve attended my Horses for Clean Water educational events you know about my test for chore efficiency which is done on this day or at this time of the year.

The Winter Solstice Chore Efficiency Test works this way: you come home from work on Winter Solstice to see if you can make it through all your horse chores with ease. If you can, then you pass the test with flying colors! My reasoning is this: if you can set up your place to be chore efficient on Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, then horse chores will be a breeze come next summer!

Want more ideas on winterizing and making your horse property chore efficient?  Here you go:

  • Bring in footing material for paddocks, confinement areas and other high traffic areas to avoid muddy messes.
  • Begin a manure management program and get manure out of confinement areas and into something productive (like the compost pile.) 
  • Check gutters and downspouts for leaks or needed repairs so you can divert clean rainwater away from high traffic areas.
  • Reroute surface water from driveways, parking areas and adjacent hillsides away from confinement areas.
  • Bring your horses in off your pastures to avoid winter damage overgrazing and compaction.
  • Provide shelter from the driving wind and rain for your horses.
  • Consider a way to heat, light or ventilate your tack room to avoid moldy tack. 
  • Set up a water supply that won’t freeze or get icy cold. 
  • Consider insulating pipes and faucets with heat tape or other insulation materials. 

Do you have adequate outdoor lighting?

Photo: Alayne Blickle

  • Review lighting needs so outdoor areas and stalls are bright enough to care for your horses during the dark winter evenings.
  • Consider your emergency and winter storm preparedness such as having flashlights on hand in easy access locations, a battery-powered radio and a car cell phone charger. 
  • Check horse blankets for needed mending or washing if you plan to blanket. 
  • Consider your own clothing needs to keep you warm and dry during riding, daily chores and farm work.
  • Review equipment needs for daily chores so that you have the right equipment on hand--a manure cart that’s easy to push and dump, a manure fork that’s easy to grip and not missing tines, etc.

Review equipment needs for daily chores so that you have the right equipment on hand.

Photo: Alayne Blickle

Having your horse place set up efficiently will help you get through chore time with more ease and pleasure whether it’s dark and cold or sunny and warm. Let me know what you find out when you take the Winter Solstice Chore Efficiency Test or if you have ideas on how to improve your daily horse life! 

About the Author

Alayne Blickle

Alayne Renée Blickle, a lifelong equestrian and reining competitor, is the creator/director of Horses for Clean Water, an award-winning, nationally acclaimed environmental education program for horse owners. Well known for her enthusiastic, down-to-earth approaches, Alayne is an educator and photojournalist who has worked with horse and livestock owners since 1990 teaching manure composting, pasture management, mud and dust control, water conservation, chemical use reduction, firewise controls and wildlife enhancement. She teaches and travels North America and writes for horse publications. Alayne and her husband raise and train their reining horses at their eco-sensitive guest ranch, Sweet Pepper Ranch, in sunny Nampa, Idaho. She also authors the Smart Horse Keeping blog.

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