Beating the midges

Most fly repellents are limited in their effectiveness and there are times when they simply don’t work AT ALL. One of those times is at dusk on evenings of high humidity. On several occasions the horses have destroyed their field when I have come out to get them in the morning (despite being plastered with fly repellent the night before) because they were running around trying to get rid of the midges. After close observation and a lot of research, I discovered the offending blood sucking midges were called ‘can’t-see-ums’.


Yes, that’s actually what they are called on account of being very hard to see! When you look closely you’ll find them crawling all over the horses’ underside and midline, sheath, inner thighs, armpits, inside and outside of the legs, back of the pasterns etc. Vile little creatures that make the horses’ life hell. More extensive research led to a pretty effective solution. Plaster your horse in fly repellent as usual but then use an aqueous cream (one that washes off) – I have been using udder cream) on all the ‘tasty’ areas. Slap it on thick so the midges can’t attach themselves. Wash off with soapy warm water in the morning. Bingo!


Staying warm

A top tip to keep warm in ‘arctic’ weather for you and your horse is to wear wool! You can’t beat good old fashioned wool. Let’s face it, it’s been used by humans and animals for millennia! I wear a long hand-knitted cardigan which goes right down to my knees indoors and Talisman sports a woollen blanket in between stable rugs, adding warmth and reducing the number of layers required (and the weight on his back). He also has a woollen exercise blanket if the full blanket is too much which, though it has no fastenings, doesn’t move once wedged between rugs.

Warm feet

In the super-cold and wet weather, dry your yard boots overnight (mine go in a cupboard next to the Rayburn) so you put your feet into warm boots in the morning (oh joy!) and plaster them (if they are leather) in grease each day when you do your horse’s hooves. Result – dry, warm feet and your boots will last a lot longer too! Warm legs also help to keep your feet warm and I am a great fan of ski salopettes for that!


Flowers to lift the spirit!

In the relentless depths of winter when light is limited, it’s freezing cold and the omnipresent colour outside is grey, a bunch of flowers does wonders to lift the spirit!


…..colour in the fruit bowl works too!


Muddy tractor wheels

This is for fellow smallholders or those in possession of a tractor! The best way to clean your tractor’s wheels after doing a muddy job (before you bring it back onto a clean yard or drive) is to use a hoof-pick. Works a treat!