Win­ter Prep: Barn & Pas­ture

Trail Rider - - HANDY CHECKLIST -

Proper prepa­ra­tion of your barn and pas­ture is im­por­tant to make sure you and your horse are ready for the com­ing win­ter weather. This check­list of barn and pas­ture horse chores will help you or­ga­nize your win­ter-prepa­ra­tion ef­fort.

Barn Chores

■ Stock up on feed and bed­ding. Win­ter weather can close roads un­ex­pect­edly, pre­vent­ing you from reach­ing the feed store or pre­vent­ing de­liv­ery trucks from reach­ing the feed store. If you nor­mally keep one week’s worth of feed and bed­ding on hand, lay in enough sup­plies to keep your horse fed and dry for three to four weeks. ■ Check your horse’s win­ter blan­ket. Does your horse wear a win­ter blan­ket to pro­tect him from the win­ter weather? As part of your win­ter prepa­ra­tion, check it over, and re­pair it now, es­pe­cially if you clip your horse in fall and ride him through the win­ter. A clipped horse must wear a blan­ket in win­ter to re­place the warmth pro­vided by his lost hair­coat. Even an un­clipped horse might need a blan­ket at some point for ex­tra warmth or pro­tec­tion against a cold wind, wet snow, or both. ■ Spiff up your barn. If you need new rub­ber mats in your stalls, new gravel around your barn, a new hose, or even light bulbs, take care of those needs now. Mov­ing heavy stall mats and stand­ing on lad­ders is dif­fi­cult enough in sum­mer; short days, icy weather, and cold stiff fin­gers make th­ese tasks almost im­pos­si­ble. ■ Invest in a stor­age cab­i­net. Stash your win­ter sup­plies — from warm gloves to ice melt — in an in­ex­pen­sive resin stor­age cab­i­net. Clean the wa­ter heaters, tank de-icers, and heated wa­ter buck­ets, and put them in the cab­i­net so you can eas­ily find them. ■ Keep a groom­ing vac handy. Don’t lock away your equine vac­uum cleaner for the win­ter — use it to blow-dry your horse’s coat if rain, snow, or un­usual ex­er­tion wet him to the skin. ■ Use rub­ber buck­ets. Some icer­e­mov­ing tech­niques can cause plas­tic buck­ets to shat­ter. On the other hand, rub­ber buck­ets are nearly in­de­struc­tible and will sur­vive even if you slam them against the ground, turn them up­side down, and jump on them. ■ An­a­lyze pas­ture soil. Take sam­ples of your pas­ture soil, and have them an­a­lyzed. Lime and fer­til­ize pas­tures based on the anal­y­sis. In late fall, re-seed or overseed your pas­tures. If you haven’t been happy with your pas­ture grasses, so­licit ad­vice from your lo­cal ex­ten­sion agent on mix­ing cold-sea­son and warm-sea­son grasses, and/ or adding legumes to the mix. ■ Walk your fence line. Re­pair any dam­age be­fore the tem­per­a­ture drops and the ground freezes, es­pe­cially if fence posts are in­volved. Earth and wire are both eas­ier to work with in warmer weather. ■ Clean your run-in shed. Rou­tine clean­ing of your pas­ture’s shed and sacrifice area can be­come dif­fi­cult in win­ter, and

Pas­ture- Chore Check­list

there may be weeks when snow ac­cu­mu­lat­ing or melt­ing makes ma­nure re­moval im­pos­si­ble. Give your­self and your horses an edge by do­ing a thor­ough fall cleanout. ■ Drain and prep wet ar­eas. Were there wet, muddy, or flooded spots in the high-traf­fic ar­eas around your pas­ture gates and wa­ter tanks this spring and sum­mer? To help pre­vent th­ese ar­eas from turn­ing into ice, raise and level them with a load of gravel or road pack. You don’t want your horse skid­ding and fall­ing on ice. TTR

Use this check­list of barn and pas­ture horse chores

to or­ga­nize your win­ter­prepa­ra­tion ef­fort. In­set: Lay in enough sup­plies to keep your horse fed and dry for

three to four weeks.

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