Winter is just around the corner as is the holiday season. This means that it’s time to get your barn ready for colder weather. If you’re planning on traveling for the holidays, you’ll need to have a plan in place for the proper care of your animals. Even you’re going to remain in the area, you still need to get ready for the cooler temps. Here are eight winter and holiday preparation tips for equestrians that will protect your horse and give you peace of mind.
Who’s in Charge?
If you’re going away, it’s important that you have someone who is specifically appointed to take care of your horse in your absence. Take extra time to introduce them to your horse, brief them on proper care, and let them know who to contact in case of emergency.
Nutrition for Warmth
When it gets colder out, your horse should have enough fat reserves so that they can tolerate temperature changes and stay warm. This means that they need to take in more calories during colder months, so increase their hay allotment and even consider fat supplements.
In most areas of the country, horses need some type of shelter from the cold and elements. Even though they can naturally withstand temperature changes, they still need some protection. Blankets help in the coldest environments, and a run-in shed can protect from wind and snow or freezing rain.
A barn is the ultimate winter shelter for your horse, but it must be properly ventilated. Failing to ventilate your barn can result in health problems, particularly for horses with allergies or other respiratory issues.
You never know when a winter storm is going to wreak havoc on your roads or supply chain. So you don’t get caught empty handed, stock up on essentials like hay, medicine, and generator fuel.
Preserve Your Tack
Winter weather can be tough on your tack. Before it gets too cold, take some time to thoroughly clean and condition your tack so that it is in top shape. This is also a good time each year to take photos for your insurance records.
Repairing fences during a blizzard is never fun, nor is searching for a wayward horse. Before it gets cold and dreary outside, grab a hammer and some other supplies to take along for a fence line inspection and quick repair project.
Tend to Your Pasture
Well before the snow and sleet start coming down, tend to and ready your pasture for spring. Mow it one last time, keeping the height at four inches or more. Also, look for any bald patches or soil deficiencies so that you can put down seeding and fertilizer now.
We don’t always know the exact date when the weather is going to turn each year. Having a winter plan in place for your horse will not only make your holiday season more enjoyable, but there will be less stress and expense for all involved. As you prepare your horse and barn for wintertime, make sure that your own cold weather gear is also in top shape so that you’ll stay warm while tending to your horse’s needs.