Winter will be here before we know it. Is your barn ready for snow and cold temperatures? If not, here's a to-do list for you.
There are a lot of things to do both outside and inside to make sure your horses are safe, comfortable, and well fed through the winter.
- First, inspect the outside of the barn. Look carefully for any damage or deterioration: loose boards, broken windows, missing shingles, and so on. Make sure you finish all the needed repairs before winter arrives.
- Winterize your plumbing. Get a plumber to check that all your plumbing - both indoor and outdoor - is in working condition and properly insulated. If you don't have them already, install water heaters and heated waterers.
- Inspect your wiring. Ask an electrician to inspect the entire electrical system in your barn to make sure it's safe and sufficient for your electrical needs. Also, be sure you have a secondary power source such as a generator.
- Make sure you have proper ventilation in your barn. There shouldn't be any drafts, but you should have sufficient ventilation so you don't create respiratory issues for your horses during the winter months.
- Check your hay and bedding supplies. If it's not possible to store enough hay and bedding for the whole winter, make sure you have a reliable supplier for both, who can deliver needed supplies on a short notice and even in inclement weather.
- Check that all horse clothing has been returned from the cleaners and repaired if needed. Also, have an extra turnout sheet on hand for every size of horse you own in case a turnout blanket gets wet and needs to be temporarily replaced with a warm blanket covered by a turnout sheet.
- Make a thorough snow removal plan. You need to guarantee access for both horses and humans on the pathways to and from the barn and pastures. Also, keep at least one trailer plowed out at all times so you can easily transport a horse in case of emergency.
None of these sound like very glamorous tasks, but it's best to do them now and be prepared than to be sorry later. Once winter hits in earnest, you won't need to scramble to do what needs to be done.
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