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Preparing Your Horse & Barn for the Winter

Begin earlier to winterize the barn.

  • Author: canpubco
  • Number of views: 2444
Preparing Your Horse  & Barn for the Winter
1. Test water heaters
Before the thermostat indicates it’s below freezing, make sure any heaters you use for your buckets and troughs are working correctly. Wrap exposed water lines with pipe insulation. Monitor the water meter to ensure your horses are drinking normally.
2. Insulate your hand tools
Slip pieces of foam pipe insulation over the handles of wheelbarrows, rakes, shovels, and other barn tools, especially those made of metal. This will prevent frost, protect your hands and make the morning chores more acceptable during the winter months.
3. Mow and drag your pastures
Cutting weeds before they go to seed will help keep them under control next year, and especially if you’re taking your horses off the grass for the winter, dragging the manure will give plenty of time to decompose.
4. Inspect your roofs
Repair any problems you find or arrange to have the work done. If you’re unsure about the integrity of any structure that houses animals, keep it empty until you can have it examined by a professional. Check to make sure all snow guards are in place. These devices are mounted on the roof to prevent large snow slides.
5. Walk your fence lines
Shake the posts as you go, looking for loose bands or wires, protruding nails or fasteners, leaning or other signs of developing weakness. Carry a tool belt to make minor repairs as you go, as well as brightly colored tape to mark areas that will require more attention later.
6. Make sure lights are working
As winter means shorter days and less daylight, make sure all work areas are well lit.
7. Stock up on snow supplies
A number of substances – salt, sand, ash – are useful for providing traction on icy footing. Salt is better at melting ice, but it can also kill vegetation and burn unprotected hooves. Sand and ash are safer but can slow the melting process once temperatures start to rise.
8. Service power equipment
Change your engine oil, flush and replace antifreeze, lubricate and tune up snowblowers, mowers, tractors, and other power equipment. Don’t forget to check and replace any worn tires.
9. Inspect your blankets
Even if you cleaned and stored your blankets properly at the end of last season, take them out and check them again before using. Mold, insects, or rodents may have gotten to them while they were in storage. Check for loose straps, frayed fabric, holes or foul smells, and repair or replace any blankets that need attention.
10. Stockpile hay, feeds, and necessary supplies
Have extras of all necessities on hand in case winter storms make deliveries or trips to the feed store impossible. Keep about two extra week’s worth of feeds and supplements on hand. Check all expiration dates before purchasing feed.
11. Prepare your horse’s hooves
Going to pull your horse’s shoes for the winter? It’s best to do it while the weather is still warmer, so the horse can acclimate before the ground is frozen hard. If the footing will be slick, some horses may do better with traction devices, such as studs or borium.
12. Adjust the airflow in each stall
Too little ventilation in a horse’s stall means that airborne dust can accumulate quickly to unhealthy levels. Too much airflow can mean bone-chilling drafts. Scuff your boots in the bedding, enough to kick up dust. After five minutes use a flashlight or other light source to check the air.
By preparing your barn and horse(s) before the winter season hits, you will be much more prepared and equipped. You’ll rest easier knowing your property is safe and your horses are comfortable.

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