Winter is just around the corner and with it comes colder temperatures and more time for your horse to spend indoors. While your horse is enjoying the last of the beautiful pasture conditions and moderate temperatures, it is time for you to start thinking about winterizing your barn. You want to plan ahead for this because before you know it, your horse will be running for the comfort of their barn to get out of the cold. Read below for some tips to get your barn ready for winter.
When was the last time you did a detailed clean of your barn? Chances are there are leaves, dirt, or other natural debris that has found its way into your barn over the fall so now is a perfect time to clean that up. Bring out all of your horse’s bedding and stall mats and shake out any dust buildup. Now that you can see more of your barn floor, take a broom and brush out the stalls of leaves, sticks, and dirt that has accumulated underneath the mats or in the corners of the stalls. Powerwash the stalls and the other hallways in your barn to get that hard-to-scrub dirt. While you have your powerwasher out, might as well use it on the outside of your barn too. Powerwash the door, the sides, and the area surrounding your barn if you have concrete. Lay down some fresh hay for your horse and consider using barn lime. Barn lime kills any bacteria that could have gotten into your barn during the fall and also suppresses the smell of ammonia. Give your horse a fresh and clean space to enjoy over the winter.
Prepare water sources for freezing temperatures
Deeper into the winter season you may experience freezing temperatures which can cause issues with your horse’s water supply. To get ahead of this, make sure your water tanks are in good shape and in an area that protects them from ice. Check that your electric waterers are working, and will continue to work, and that they are not shocking your horse. Have a backup plan if your pipes or troughs begin to freeze. Heating buckets can be used on your horse’s troughs to prevent the water from getting too cold or freezing. You can also insulate your pipes to keep them from freezing. In the winter, horses feel like they don’t have to drink as much water because they are not getting as much exercise or heat. Consider adding warm water to their water supply to encourage them to drink and be sure to keep ice out of the water, which could further deter them from drinking.
Make barn repairs
Whether you have weather damage to your barn or just start to notice structural damage due to age, now is the time to make those barn repairs you have been meaning to do. It is better to get them done now than wait for the repairs to cause issues that you have to go out into the cold to fix. Fix any boards, barn doors, or windows that have come out of place. Any unwanted passageways into the barn could create a draft of cold air and defeat the purpose of the shelter of the barn. Be sure to make these repairs but have a ventilation system in place as your horse will be spending more time in the barn and need to continue to get fresh air. Fix any roof leaks and check the sturdiness of your roof before the snow comes. You don’t want the snow to drip cold water in on your horse or potentially cave in your entire roof.
All of these plans and ways to prepare should be made ahead of time! By planning ahead, you can prevent issues that may arise and have to be dealt with during the winter months. You don’t want to be out in the middle of a blizzard fixing a leak in your barn roof. Have backups if your horse’s water supply gets frozen or the pipes freeze. Have extra blankets in case your horses get cold or they want to spend some time outside. Have extra hay in handy since your horse won’t be grazing on as much grass as they have been. You should also think about how you are going to keep your horse moving and exercising during the colder months. They won’t be moving around in the pasture as much so come up with a schedule to keep them moving in some way.
Entering a new season means it is also a great opportunity to get your horse checked for any illness or pain that they may have gotten over the fall. Fall laminitis is very common so check your horse to see if they contracted it so that you can begin treatment. After spending the past three seasons outside, there is a chance that bacteria could have gotten into their system which you may not have noticed. Before your horse settles down for the winter, have them treated for any discomfort.
If you are looking to get your horse’s physical done or just want a vet consult, Dr. Reilly is offering free check-ups just in time for winter. You can call him at 610-436-5174 or contact him through our website to set up an appointment.