by American Stalls November 20, 2022
It's the second week of October and we're finally seeing falling leaves and change in their beautiful colors. These changes signal the shift from Summer to Fall to Winter. Before we know it, winter will soon be knocking on our barn doors.
This time of the year (mid-to-late Fall) is the perfect time to prepare the barn for winter. After all, it's of utmost importance to ensure a safe, comfortable, and functional environment for our four-legged friends. Before the temperatures drop further and snow piles on, here are six things that will make sure your barn is ready for the Winter months.
#1 – Deep Clean Your Horse Stalls
Just like your home or your car, it's easy for our barn cleaning routine to fall behind during the colder Winter months. For this reason, we recommend to get a head start in deep cleaning your horse stalls. We recommend to remove the any bedding and manure from Fall months. This helps us do a thorough deep clean and stall disinfection. [Read our article on how to disinfect a horse stall here]. After disinfection and a deep clean, you can then use stall dry products to dry up any wet spots in your stall. As cold weather ramps up, we can add layers of clean dry straw to make for comfortable bedding.
We have a thorough guide on how to disinfect your horse stalls.
#2 – Organize Blankets
As we transition to colder weather, identify and clean your horse’s lightweight sheet. As temperatures drop through October, we recommend to be mindful about your horses’ blanketing needs. There might be some nights where your horses may require light blanketing. As we get further into November, it is important to ensure that your heavy blankets are cleaned and ready to go. This way, winter will not sneak up on you.
Lastly, one of the best ways to organize your blankets in the barn are through high-quality blanket bars. A well made blanket bar will have enough space between the horse stall and the blanket bar. This space will allow space for your lightweight blankets and heavy blankets to dry.
Lastly, make sure that each of the blankets still properly fit your horses. Athletes, new borns, seniors, and laid up horses may have gained or lost weight over the Summer and early Fall. For this reason, we recommend to check that their blankets fit snug around them.
#3 – Inspect Electrical Components and the HVAC
No matter the age of your horse barn, we recommend to schedule inspections on your wiring and electrical outlets. A thorough inspection includes the clearing of dust, debris, and cobwebs.
In the long daylight hours of summertime and early Fall, we might notice (or care) that certain indoor or outdoor lights have gone out. This all changes, of course, once the evenings grow shorter and we find ourselves changing a bulk in the evening. Make sure all your work areas will be well lit when you need them to be. Replace any blown bulbs and check wires for fraying.
We also recommend to have your HVAC system inspected if your barn has a system. Lastly, also recommend to outfit your barn with battery-powered (or solar powered) flashlights to provide safe access to your barn during power outages. Please note that all outlets or frayed wiring should be immediately repaired by a licensed professional.
#4 – Inspect & Clean Your Barn’s Feed Room & Plan Ahead
Chilly fall evenings are often a cue for rodents to look for extra food. Before you know, a horse barn’s feed room can be an ideal outlet for rodents. For this reason, we recommend to clean up your feed room to help reduce the risk of rodents and insects. Sweep up spilled feed that will attract your unwanted guest.
Inspect your storage containers to make sure the lids seal tight. We recommend metal trash cans or metal bins instead of plastic bins that can be chewed through by rodents. Lastly, if you store hay in your feed room, use pallets that allow for better air circulation.
Once you have inspected the condition of the feed room, we recommend to plan ahead your feed. Be sure to check supplements on hand and their expiration dates. It’s always also a good idea to have extra quantities of any necessities to hedge delivery difficulties caused by winter storms. We recommend a rule of thumb to buy about 10 percent more than you think you’ll need.
#5 – Inspect for Drafts & Superior Ventilation
Although it might be contrary to popular opinion, our horses don’t mind the cold the same way humans do. We speak with new horse barn builders all the time and communicate that you don’t need to close up your barn to prevent heat from escaping like a private residence. After all, ventilation is essential for a horse’s overall health and specifically lung health.
That being said, we recommend being mindful about the amount of ventilation. Too little ventilation can mean that dust can accumulate quickly within the barn. However, too much airflow can mean bone-chilling drafts which can be dangerous for temperature regulation. For older barns, we recommend that your barn structure. This means to check Barn End Doors and Barn Windows to cover any holes that let in too much air. Replace any broken Barn Doors, Barn Windows, Dutch Doors, or faulty door latches.
The above is far from a comprehensive list of steps you could take to make sure your equestrian facility is ready for the Winter. However, the above list is a great starting point to in making sure your horses are safe, healthy, comfortable through the winter season. During these months, we also understand that many clients beginning their projects for Spring and Summer. Our team is here for you every step of the way – whether it is a new barn build or simply a renovation. You can schedule a consultation by filling out our Contact Us Form – we thank you in advance!