Don’t Let The Cold Front Sneak Up On You
By Erika Druker, PleasureHorse.com
It’s that time of the year again, where all of the leaves have disappeared and we all dread the snowfall. When it comes to preparing my barn back in Massachusetts, I have different ways of preparing my horses and myself for the colder days that lay ahead.
First of all, I make sure all of my blankets and sheets have been cleaned from the prior season, and are taken out and moved to the barn where I can easily access them. One way I taught myself to get any of my blankets in order is to take all of them to the laundromat (check with your laundromat before washing your horse’s blankets in the washers; some do not like the horse smell they leave behind). After I bring the blankets home from the laundromat, I fold them and put them in older comforter bags. The comforter bags are the perfect way to keep them neat, clean, and easily storable.
Another way I like to prepare for winter is to put up multiple hooks in the barn, that are only designated for blankets. This way, when my horses are done playing outside in the snow or wet conditions, I have a place to dry them without throwing them on the ground. This is a great way to keep blankets dry and/or clean year round, and I feel it saves my blankets from some wear and tear.
One challenge almost every horse person battles in the wintertime is their horses’ hair coat. It seems like one day your horse is sleek and shiny, and then over night they developed into a cotton ball. One solution is to put lights in your horse’s stall, instead of bundling your horse up like one of the characters from “A Christmas Story.” In order for the light to take effect on your horse, the horse must be under it for at least eighteen hours per day/night. If you decide to then stop using a light in your horses stall make sure to take proper precautions in blanketing the horse accordingly. It will start to grow its coat back fairly quickly after not being under a light if it has been used to being under one already. If you do not like the idea of putting lights in your horse’s stall there are lyrica hoods and/or lyrica body sheets called “slinkies.” You can buy them from tack shops or online. They are a tight fitting stretchy material made to go on under your horse’s blankets. I have found they make your horse’s hair coat not only thinner, but also give them a gleaming shine.
In addition, every year there are always those couple of days that you find yourself ice skating to your barn; then once you get there you find mini ice skating rink in your horses stalls (also known as the water bucket). There are different types of waterproof heaters or heated water buckets that you can use. I prefer to use the heated water bucket that has a cord that can be stored discretely at the bottom of it. One question I’ve heard about these buckets are “Why would you want your horse to drink heated water?” The bucket’s job is to provide a constant heat to keep the water from freezing in freezing temperatures, but the water is still cold enough to quench your horse’s thirst. So now that your horse is able to drink its water without ice picking its way through it, you should make sure you make it to the water bucket safely by salting ice walkways. I make sure to have plenty of rock salt to throw onto the ice patches on my walkways and around the barn area. I prefer rock salt because different ice-melts that you can buy from a variety of stores (that work great) can be toxic to horses. If the rock salt gets into melted water that sits in their paddocks I don’t worry as much as if a salt that had chemicals in it got around my horse.
The cold front is here! Is your barn prepared for winter?