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Beginning of the Year Annual Tasks

organizing tips Dec 30, 2023
January 1 calendar photo

At the beginning of each year, there are things I like to do to ensure that I am all set for the upcoming year with horses. These range from memberships to trainings to horse care items. 

I like to get these done at the beginning of the year because it serves as both a nice reminder, as well as getting everything set so that I don't have to worry about these popping up randomly throughout the year and forgetting about them. For example, before I get into the full list, I like to do Coggins at the beginning of the year. This gets me set for the whole year so I don't have to worry about it expiring in the middle of the competition season! (Although for those of you who live somewhere where January/February isn't the off-season, then maybe you could consider these items for your actual off-season.) So without further ado:

  • Coggins
    • As mentioned above, I like to get this done at the beginning of the year in the off-season. Then I don't have to worry about it expiring partway through the year and scrambling to get it re-done. It is easy enough for me to just have to check the year on the coggins to ensure I have the right one for travels/submissions.
  • Dentist
    • Get this done in the off-season so that:
      • A) Your horses are ready to go when they come back into full work
      • B) They don't have any issues with drug testing from the sedatives
  • Memberships
    • I have most of mine on auto-renew at this point, but if you don't want to go that route, it's not a bad idea to use this time of year to renew them manually. USEF, USEA, USDF, USHJA, FEI, or whatever organizations you need to belong to.
  • Safesport Training
    • I always like to do this one in the off-season as well. I have a little extra time for it, and again, then I am set for the entire competition season.
    • Pro-tip: I found out after the first renewal that the 1-year expiration date they give you after your Safesport training is always 1 year from completion, not the actual competition/calendar year or 1 year from your initial expiration date. So to me, it is especially important to get this done in your regular off-season, so that you don't have any last-minute long training sessions to get it renewed in order to compete. I wait a little bit closer to my actual first competition to get this one done. 
  • Vaccinations
    • My vet and I both like to get most of the "spring vaccinations" out of the way in February. This is for a couple reasons.
      • One, these springtime illnesses start popping up by March (obviously dependent on where you live and where you compete), so we like to have their immune response updated before that exposure starts going around.
      • Two, if your horse ever feels a little under the weather from these vaccinations, it is nice to have it in the off-season rather than in the middle of your training and competition.
      • As a reminder, technically you only need the flu/rhino vaccination to compete in the USEF/FEI realm. They require this to be given every 6 months (after the initial "loading" vaccination regimen). But depending on where you live and compete, you typically want to get several others such as WEE/EEE/VEE, Rabies, Tetanus, West Nile, Potomac, and/or others. Also important to consider, even if you don't live in an area where one of these viruses is present, is whether any horses at your barn would be potentially bringing anything back from their travels. For example, Potomac isn't necessarily super common where I live (Ohio), but I compete on the east coast a lot, so not only do I get my horses vaccinated for it, but it's a good idea for the other horses in my barn to get the vaccination in case one of mine may bring it back from their travels.
  • Trailer - This could be done at the end or beginning of the competition season, but getting your trailer checked over/serviced is always a good idea. Lights, electrical, brakes, tires, etc. This also goes for your truck if your truck is mainly used for the trailer and not your daily driving. (Obviously daily driving, you should be keeping up with this maintenance as needed when it comes up).
    • If you live in an area that freezes in the winter, I recommend removing any liquids from your trailer (liniments, fly sprays, etc.) just to ensure nothing freezes and bursts that you are left to clean up. If you have a living quarter trailer, you may need to "winterize" it if you live in a cold area so that none of the liquids freeze in the pipes/tanks. 

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