7 Barn Hazards
Winter is coming, and it’s likely your horse will be spending more time indoors than he does in warmer months. Is your barn safe for your horse? Inspect your barn with this checklist of seven potential hazards in hand. If you spot a hazard, fix it now, before winter’s chill sets in.
Find sharp protrusions in stalls. How they can harm your horse: If there’s anything sharp in your horse’s stall — such as nails, splinters, or sharp edges on a broken plastic manger — he’s likely to scrape, puncture, or lacerate himself. Your horse’s eyes are particularly at risk, because they’re so large and prominent. What you can do: Visually scan stall walls, then run your hands over all surfaces, including feeders, waterers, and feed buckets. Your sense of touch can detect rough or sharp areas that your eyes might miss. Be thorough, and check the walls and ceiling. Use a ladder if necessary. Keep in mind that your horse’s head is much higher than yours, especially if he rears. Remove splinters, and replace any broken boards. If the sharp object is part of a hard, plastic item (such as a manger or feed tub), remove it, replace it, or wrap it in duct tape. If you find sharp nails, pull them out or whack them in.
Unsecured feed. How it can harm your horse: Rodents and birds can contaminate feed with urine and feces, which can make your horse ill. Mice might also chew on the insulation around any accessible wiring, which can cause a barn fire. What you can do: Keep pellets and grain inside heavy metal containers; rodents and equines can chew through even the strongest plastic. Look for secure, locking lids.
Improper hay and bedding storage. How it can harm your horse: Hay and bedding dust interfere with your horse’s breathing and can harm his respiratory system. Hay and bedding are also fire hazards. What you can do: Store hay away from your horse, preferably in a separate, well-ventilated building. Keep hay on pallets to keep it safe from ground moisture. Stack bales on their sides, and leave spaces between bales to promote air circulation, which helps keep the bales dry. If you don’t have a separate building, make a “floor” with pallets, stack the hay, and cover just the top two-thirds of the stack with tarps, so air will circulate. Store bedding separately from your horse housing.
CLIXPHOTO.COM Mount an all-purpose Dry Chemical ABC fire extinguisher just inside each barn door, plus one in the tack room. Keep the fire extinguishers fully charged, and make sure that everyone at your barn knows how to use them.