Winter Is Coming - Is Your Horse Farm Ready For It?
Here it is the middle of October and many of us are enjoying the nice temperatures, weather and colors of autumn. These are the best days to ride your horse or even go for a relaxing trail ride. Don't get carried away with it. Before you know it, the cold winds and temperatures of winter, as well as the frozen precipitation, will be here. Now is the time to get ready for it.
A good place to start would be the water sources. Begin by frost-proofing the hydrants and spigots. Wrap heat tape around them and add extra insulation on the pipes. Do make sure the heat tape is working. The last thing you would want is a busted pipe in the middle of a freeze and horses have no water. (This means buckets of water will need to be carried up from the house to the barn, meaning numerous trips back and forth.)
If you have stock tanks in the paddock and pastures, placing de-icers or floating heaters in the tanks will be a benefit to both you and horses. The horses will have warm water to drink and you will not be breaking through thick ice to get to the water. Here again, make sure the heaters and the de-icers are in working order. If you have automatic waterers, you don't have to worry as much about it.
If the horses are stalled, it is best to invest in heated water buckets. Here again, the last thing you want to do in the middle of winter is break up ice so the horses have water.
Once thing to remember, horses require plenty of water in the winter so the food moves through the digestive system smoothly. In order to do this, the horses will drink more water if it is warm, rather than ice cold. If you think about it, when it is cold out, do you prefer drinking ice cold drinks or nice and warm drinks? It works the same way for horses. This is why it is so important to have the water available to the horses at all times.
Now is a good time to stock up on the hay supply. The Farmer's Almanac says that the Northeast is expected to have a colder and more severe winter than last year. (The squirrels have been very busy collecting nuts for the winter, too. I tend to believe the squirrels, since Mother Nature takes care of her own,) If it does turn out to be a severe winter, stocking up on the hay supply will ensure there is enough for the horses during the winter months. Not only that, the price of hay goes up during this time since the supply is less and the demand is more.
If you blanket your horses, make sure the blankets are in good condition. When it comes time to use them is no time to mend the torn blankets or go searching for new ones that will fit your horses.
During late fall, many horse owners tend to pull the shoes off of the horses hooves. The reason for this is that the shoes become ice skates on the slippery footing. The horses fare better going barefoot in the snow and ice. Also, with shoes on, snow and ice tends to ball up within the bottom of the hoof, straining the horses tendons and ligaments. It is as if they are walking on high heels, which is not good for their legs. If shoes are to be kept on, have the farrier put snow pads on underneath the shoes to prevent balling. He can also put borium on the shoes to help the horses walk in the slippery conditions.
One last item that is important to take care of is the tractor, Most farms rely on the tractor to remove snow and ice on the paths during the winter, plus more. Check the tractor out while the weather conditions are still good so you don't get stuck.
As you can see, there is a lot that must be done prior to the winter weather setting in. It is a good idea to prepare for it now while the conditions are good, to prevent disasters during the winter.
Brigita McKelvie is a REALTOR® (Pennsylvania License #RS297130) with Cindy Stys Equestrian & Country Properties, specializing in rural and horse properties and farms in Eastern Pennsylvania. She has an e-Pro® (Certified Internet Expert) certification and a GRI (Graduate, REALTOR® Institute) designation.
Brigita McKelvie, REALTOR
Pennsylvania License #RS297130
Rural and Horse Properties and Farms
Cindy Stys Equestrian & Country Properties, Ltd.
The Premier Equine and Country Real Estate firm serving Eastern Pennsylvania from back yard operations to world class equestrian facilities.
Use a REALTOR with "horse sense" that doesn't horse around when it comes to horse properties.