Holidays are a busy time of year for anyone, let alone horse owners.

 Between the shopping, the visiting, the parties, and gift wrapping, it’s enough to stress the most even-keeled horse owner. If you consider yourself to be…well…the chillaxed type except for around the holidays you’re not alone. The holidays can be tough on horse owners. Despite our best intentions, we feel that we can’t get enough done.

Here are few tips to survive…and maybe even enjoy… the holidays with your family, your friends, and your horses.

Time Management Tips: Time management is at the top of my list. The more you do, the more you think you should do. The list just keeps growing. Here’s how to close the gap between what you think you should do and what you can do.

  • Make a list. Check it twice. Then cross off at least a third without doing it. You might be the type that makes a list in the morning when you’re feeling energetic and then by late afternoon you feel overwhelmed. Pick at least three things on your list that no-one would notice if you didn’t complete them.  
  • Limit gift giving. We all cave to peer pressure when it comes to gift giving. You’d think peer pressure wouldn’t matter, but we stress about whether our gifts will ‘measure up’. Start a trend and keep it small and simple. Keeping it small and simple can actually challenge you to focus on what is important, spending time with those you love.
  • Pick two holiday events that you want to attend and say no to all the rest. If you feel guilty turning down invitations, suggest a post-holiday get together when things aren’t as hectic.  
  • Schedule unplugged time for your horse even if you can’t ride. Sit in your horse’s stall, talk to him, brush him, daydream. Leave your phone in the car and give him what he really needs; your undivided attention.
  • Pencil in ‘spending time with my horse’ on your calendar and stick with it. This is your gift to yourself and your horse, a time to recharge. Everyone in your life, including your horse, will appreciate you taking care of yourself first.  

 

Decorating: I love to decorate the barn for the holidays. I’m sure you do, too. Here are a few safety tips.

  • Hang all garlands, wreaths, and decorations well out of reach of your most curious horse. Garlands, wreaths, and kissing balls may include toxic plants like yew or mistletoe. Even small amounts can be fatal to horses.
  • All electrical plugins for lights should be UL rated for indoor/outdoor use. Be sure your horse cannot reach the wires. Check last year’s lights for signs of wear and tear or rodent damage before hanging.
  • Turn off all holiday lights at night and when you are not at home.
  • LED lights are a great choice for hanging in barns. LED bulbs burn cooler than regular bulbs and are more cost-effective.
  • Keep holiday decorations low-key so as not to scare the horses. Some horses may be spooked by giant reindeers or a bouncing snowman. Handling horses can get pretty dicey.

Horse Treats: Everyone loves to give their horses treats at the holidays. If you’re making treats, here is a partial list of natural and safe ingredients.

  • Carrots
  • Apples
  • Molasses
  • Hemp oil- a nutritious additive packed with Omega-3 and Omega-6.
  • Flaxseed oil and flax seed
  • Unpasteurized honey-packed with antioxidants. The darker the honey, the more antioxidants.
  • Cinnamon
  • Dried cranberries
  • Raisins
  • Herbal tea
  • Whole oat flour or whole wheat flour
  • Oats
  • Small amounts of baking soda or baking powder
  • Peppermint crushed (not a health food, but horses love them!)

Here’s an easy holiday treat recipe: Let us know how your horse likes them!  

1 c. shredded carrots

1c. grated or crushed apple

2 tbls applesauce (unsweetened)

½ c. raisins

¼ c. molasses

1c. oats

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 c. whole oat flour

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine all ingredients and form into 1 inch balls. Bake for 20-25 minutes on a parchment lined baking sheet or until golden brown. The parchment paper provides more even baking and a non-stick surface.  

Happy Holidays to all of you and be sure to share your holiday photos and stories with us!

 

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