Fall is making its exit around the Saddle Club. The irrigation and sprinkler systems have been blown out and the grass, bushes and trees are showing signs of chillier temps. This means the onslaught of winter is not far behind.
If you haven’t already, now’s the time for barn owners to get ready for winter’s sting. Here are a few tips to help you and your horse(s) be prepared for Old Man Winter.
1. Clean tack rooms. Remove any tack, supplies or items that won’t withstand freezing temperatures. If you have a refrigerator, unplug it for the winter and remove any items you have stored inside.
2. Keep winter tools handy. Place all winter tools you’ll need in a convenient location but not where your horse(s) can get to or be injured by them. This includes snow shovels, wheel barrels, snow blowers, 4-wheel ATVs or any other equipment you may use to maintain your barn during the winter months.
3. Winterize water exterior source. Before temps drop to the freezing level, disconnect all hoses from faucets and remove splitters. Store your drained garden hose so you can readily use it as needed. Use insulated outdoor faucet covers or any other form of cover to protect outside spigots.
4. Install tank heaters. Temperatures are already dipping below freezing at night so tank heaters should be installed in your water troughs. Tank heaters cannot exceed 1,000 watts per barn. If you have two water troughs, use a 500 watt heater in each trough.
5. Stock up on Hay. Horses need an ample amount of hay during the winter to stay warm. The rule of thumb: horses should be fed about two-percent of their body weight in hay/forage daily. That’s about 600 pounds of hay per month for a 1,000-pound horse. As the fiber is digested, heat is generated to help keep the horse’s body warm, even in freezing temperatures. Make sure your hay is kept clean and dry.
6. Have horse blankets ready: If your horse wears a blanket during the winter, make sure it’s clean, dry, in good shape and ready to use.
WORKING YOUR HORSE IN THE WINTER
It’s good practice to get your horse out and moving around as much as possible during the winter months to help keep them healthy and happy. We are fortunate to have a covered arena that serves as a perfect place for exercising and riding your horse during seasons of inclement weather. Please be courteous when using the covered arena and don’t leave your horse(s) unattended for long periods of time. It is a popular place for members to exercise their horses during the winter months and use of it should be limited to no more than 30 minutes by any one individual when others are waiting. The arena is for all members to enjoy so please follow the club’s ground rules on use of arenas and amenities. (Click here to read the Saddle Club Ground Rules)
Be mindful that icy walkways are just as dangerous to horses as they are to people. Please use caution when walking your horse around the grounds. Regular snow plowing will be done throughout the winter season, but ice still builds up in spots and can be very tricky to navigate.
More information on braving the winter with your horse can be found by clicking on the "Find Out More" button below:
Here’s hoping everyone (including horses) has a mild, safe and happy winter.
And that spring arrives early!