Winter is here, and for most of us in the Northern Hemisphere, so is colder weather. Before the temperature dips too much further, follow these six tips to make sure your horse barn or equestrian facility is ready for the cold months to come.
1. Give Your Barn a Deep Clean
In our October 2021 blog post, we showed you the best way to clean a horse stall. Follow those guidelines for your entire barn, and your equestrian facility will be squeaky clean.
2. Make Sure Pipes & Other Water Vessels Don’t Burst
When temperatures dip below freezing, water in or near your barn is likely to freeze too. And when that happens, any pipe or vessel holding water can easily burst or break, leading to flooding and icy surfaces.
If your barn has plumbing, install a small, safe heater by the water source to keep water flowing. If you don’t have plumbing in your barn, refresh the water regularly throughout a freezing day or install water-safe heaters in your horse’s trough or bucket.
3. Keep Pests Away
Some insects, like spiders, can survive winter’s chilly temperatures by moving to a protected area like a barn or stable. By keeping surfaces clean, removing manure, and drying any wet areas, you will be able to keep after these insects. Regular visits from an exterminator are useful too, but make sure to hire one who uses animal-friendly pesticides.
You may also consider keeping a few cats around your equestrian facility. Cats are natural predators and will be happy to take care of any rodents they see. They can also help keep the bug population down. They may not eat the insects, but they will play with them enough to kill them or at least scare them away.
4. Maintain Proper Ventilation
Just like in the summer, ventilation is a key necessity for horses. Horses don’t mind the cold the same way people do, so you don’t need to close up your barn to keep heat from escaping. Doing so will make your barn stuffy, which can lead to items becoming moldy or germy — and this can cause respiratory issues in horses. Ensure any fixtures that provide airflow, like vents and windows, are in proper working order and that airflow is not obstructed.
5. Check the Integrity of Your Barn’s Roof
Make sure the roof of your equestrian facility can withstand snow sitting on it for prolonged periods. If your horse barn or equestrian facility was built by a quality contractor, this shouldn’t be a problem. But if you have doubts, and/or if you have an older barn, give the roof a check.
Also, throughout the winter, make sure that snow and ice aren’t building up under eaves or getting into open windows. This can cause wood to rot, which is bad for the integrity of the structure. It can also cause ice to form on floors, creating a slip hazard, which is bad for both you and your horses!
6. Buy or Make a Few New Toys for Your Horses
Although horses can continue to go outside each day, they will still end up being inside their stalls for longer periods of time in the winter, especially if it snows frequently where your equestrian facility is located. If horses get bored, they may sway into, kick, or chew on their stalls. This is not good for your horses or the stalls! Help keep boredom at bay by giving them access to a few new toys. You don’t have to buy anything special. Just a ball or a new rope with a few knots in it can keep horses entertained.
A little prevention goes a long way in making sure your horses stay safe and comfortable through the winter season. Another item to add to your checklist? Start planning projects you’d like to tackle in the spring! If you’re thinking of sprucing up your horse stalls, barn doors, or any other part of your equestrian facility, check out our blog and our Products pages for some inspiration.