Winter can be a truly beautiful season providing hazy, pastel landscapes and an excuse to wrap up warm and sit around the fire. This is without mentioning the excitement of wintertime festivities including Thanksgiving and Christmas! And whilst the wintertime does have its merits, it can be an exceptionally challenging time for any land and stable owner.
Here at Country & Stable US, we understand that keeping your horse safe during the perils of the winter months is incredibly important for not only the wellbeing of the animals in your care but also for yourself and anybody else who happens to be working in your yard.
Winter climates can bring unforeseen challenges…
Shorter daylight hours combined with adverse and unpredictable weather conditions can mean that getting about your usual workload in winter can be hindered. The key to coping is through preparation and organization. By ensuring that you have taken the necessary preparatory steps towards keeping your horse, staff and self safe – any surprising situations and circumstances can be dealt with more clearly.
Organisation of the stable and surrounding area
Around a month before the height of winter hits, make time to thoroughly clean and organise your stables. This may include decluttering the tack rooms, workshops, sheds and storage areas, as well as ensuring that you have organised all of your winter sheets and stable blankets. This is particularly important so ensure you have a good supply clean and to hand.
It’s always important to risk assess the areas where people will be working. For example, are there any fire and safety hazards that somebody (or an animal) could trip on if the ground is icy.
During your thorough clear-out, remove all temperature sensitive liquids or medication and store it in more suitable conditions. In particular, if you are storing sensitive medication for your horse and it snows, you might not be able to get out and replace it, especially if particularly heavy snowfall hits. As we always say, in winter time you have to plan for as manyeventualities as possible.
Thorough inspection of electricals
We recommend checking in with an electrician who can confirm that your electrics are fit for the demands of winter usage. A lack of light can cause the environment to become highly dangerous. Ensure that any bulbs are replaced and any electrical items that look a little worse for wear or have rusted are disposed of sustainably.
General maintenance is always a good idea
During the bitter cold winds of winter, it is important that your horse is protected from any drafts. Take a walk around the stable and check for any areas that need sealing within the doors and walls – even the smallest crack or crevice can cause a problem. The comfort of your horse is vital and in the height of winter, and a vet bill that could have been avoided due to a simple two-minute job is really not worth the risk.
It may be that you also own a tractor or use other vehicles to maintain and scale your land. Ensure that you are well stocked with anti-freeze and be mindful that it is stored responsibly as animals could come into contact with the harmful chemicals.
It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many landowners forget to top up their supply of gravel and salt. We recommend keeping a plentiful supply of gravel and salt so you can use it when the ground becomes slippery.
It’s never too early to prepare for winter…
And the same safeguarding processes can be repeated year after year. Preparing for the uncertainties of winter beforehand can ensure your stable and land is safe and fit for purpose throughout the bleak season and beyond.