This article is taken from our February newsletter. It's chock full of horse care tips, helpful articles, and coupon codes! Click here to subscribe.
By: Darlene M. Cox, firstname.lastname@example.org
We are definitely in the grip of winter as Mother Nature blows cold arctic air down upon us, bringing with it the beautiful, yet burdensome, snowfalls. While spring will most certainly arrive, we must persevere to get through winter. Undoubtedly, barn chores take longer to do during the winter months when you factor in the multiple layers of clothes you must dress in, snow drifts that may need to be navigated around, frozen ice buckets and troughs to be cleared, and mucky mud pits at barn entrances that are just waiting to suck the boots right from your feet.
Yes, it is definitely no picnic dealing with the daily care of our horses during this cold and blustery season, but there are things you can do to save a little money and time:
· Reduce the cost of your farrier expenses by pulling shoes from your horse during the off season. This will allow some resting time for your horse's feet and keep some money in your pocket. Also, you may not need to have your farrier come out every six weeks, as hooves grow slower during winter months. An added health/safety bonus in keeping your horse unshod during winter is that snowballs will not accumulate on his feet, which will reduce tendon injuries. If you have a horse that must remain shod, consider using Vaseline petroleum jelly or shortening on the soles to keep snowballs from accumulating. You could also have your farrier place some snow pads under the shoes.
· Prevent plumbing expenses and the hassle of having to haul water in by wrapping exposed water pipes with heat tape or a pipe sleeve. For really frigid nights, you may want to let your water nozzle drip into a bucket to keep pipes from freezing. Disconnect hoses, because water will back flush from the hose to the water pipe and freeze.
· Provide your horse with ample paddock time. Unless the weather is particularly bad, your horse will prefer to be outside and not stuck in his stall. This will save you time and expense of having to clean stalls as often.
· Prevent icy build-up in watering buckets and troughs by using heated buckets or a heating element designed for troughs. Horses do not like to drink ice cold water and will not consume as much as they should, which my increase the chance of impaction colic. Feed your horse salt to encourage water consumption during winter months. If you do not have electricity at your barn, coat the inside of water buckets and troughs with vegetable oil, which will make the ice block slide out easier when dumping.
· Carpet remnants can be used to cover snow and ice covered paths and provide better traction for moving your horse between paddock and barn. You can also cut up carpet strips to keep in your truck to use for traction if you happen to get stuck in the snow. A carpet section can also be used to bring hay to your horses. Just place the bale or flakes on the carpet and drag it across the snow.
· Limit your exposure to the elements by pre-measuring the grain for the next feeding cycle. Prepare the evening feed, right after feeding the morning regimen, and then do the same preparation for the next morning's feed the night before.
· Save time on winter grooming by focusing only on badly soiled areas, such as bellies, feet, and legs. Grooming will flatten down your horse's hair coat, which will actually make them colder. Wait for a warmer day to do entire body grooming.
Dress warm, stay safe, and keep your eyes on the calendar for spring will definitely be here before you know it.