The next time your vet­eri­nar­ian or far­rier comes call­ing this win­ter, take these 7 steps to make the visit a bit more com­fort­able.

EQUUS - - Eq Conversati­ons -

1. Clear path­ways and park­ing ar­eas. Be­ing able to reach your horse eas­ily and safely is es­sen­tial for a vet­eri­nar­ian or far­rier. Re­move ice from slip­pery sur­faces, min­i­mize mud in walk­ways, and shovel snow in high-traf­fic ar­eas.

2. Pro­vide shel­ter. A spa­cious barn of­fers the best pro­tec­tion from freez­ing wind, rain, snow and other win­ter el­e­ments. But if you don’t have one or even a run-in shed, and the weather is par­tic­u­larly bad, con­sider clear­ing out a large garage or stor­age shed to pro­vide a tem­po­rary shel­ter.

3. Ar­range for il­lu­mi­na­tion. A source of light may be a ne­ces­sity dur­ing the shorter, darker days of win­ter. If your shel­ter doesn’t have built-in light­ing, you’ll need to get cre­ative. Por­ta­ble work lights, also called “trou­ble lights,” that plug into out­lets then clamp to or hang from rafters are a good choice, but in a pinch camp­ing lanterns, flash­lights and even the head­lights of a truck can do.

4. Pre­pare your horse. At a min­i­mum, you’ll want to have your horse wait­ing in the ap­pro­pri­ate area when the far­rier or vet­eri­nar­ian ar­rives. If trim­ming, shoe­ing or a lame­ness exam is on the sched­ule, do your best to clean the mud off your horse’s hooves and legs. Also make your­self avail­able to help out and be pre­pared to re­move blan­kets, if nec­es­sary, dur­ing the visit.

5. Sup­ply warm water. If your barn doesn’t have hot water, keep a bucket heater or elec­tric ket­tle on hand in case your vet­eri­nar­ian or far­rier needs warm water. Even if warm water isn’t a ne­ces­sity, most vet­eri­nar­i­ans and far­ri­ers will ap­pre­ci­ate not hav­ing to wash their hands in freez­ing water dur­ing the depths of win­ter.

6. Set up a por­ta­ble heater. Your vet­eri­nar­ian and far­rier will ar­rive dressed for the weather, but it’s also nice to have a warm area avail­able for ex­tended con­sul­ta­tions or pa­per­work. A por­ta­ble heater set in a tack room or feed room can pro­vide a warm respite from the chill. Of course, be sure to turn the heater off and un­plug it when no one is in the im­me­di­ate area.

7. Of­fer a warm bev­er­age. Pro­vid­ing a hot choco­late, cof­fee or tea, per­haps in a “to go” cup at the end of the visit, is a nice ges­ture.

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