Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Winter Horse Care and a Warm Barn
With the fall season in full swing now and the leaves on the trees turning beautiful colors before giving way to nature and falling to the ground to create a quilted landscape it is time to start thinking about winter horse care.
Like most animals horses possess built-in responses to freezing temperatures that help them deal with the cold, and like most animals they grow a thicker and longer coat to insulate themselves. In addition, a horse’s metabolism slows down to help in storing fatty tissue for insulation. And even their eyes are shaped to block damaging light that can cause snow blindness in humans.
It is easy to see that horses can survive in freezing conditions without human intervention. However horses that are more dependent on their owners will need a bit more care and attention during the winter months.
Ways we can help:
For horses that are in pasture and constantly exposed to the elements and without the benefit of a warm barn to take refuge in, consider taking the following steps for watering.
Water supplies that are kept outside for horses will turn to ice if not treated properly.
*Use a stock tank to heat the water so it does not freeze
*Wrap pipes to keep them from bursting
*Check water levels on a daily basis and make sure there is a constant supply of water
*Keep a rubber mallet handy to break the ice in the buckets periodically
Horses also require more fiber and fat in their diet in the colder months to maintain a healthy weight to protect against the cold. Look for foods with high levels of fiber, vitamins and minerals and a fat content of between 5 and 8 percent depending on the temperatures where the horse is stabled. Higher fat contents are sometimes necessary for very cold climates.
Keeping a warm barn is also very important during the winter for horses that are stabled inside. And even though heating a barn is not usually cost effective there are some steps you can take to keep the temperature regulated.
*Keep doors and windows closed when not in use. This includes windows the horses may look out from in their stalls as well as aisle doors. Constant wind entering the barn will keep the temperature down.
*During times when people are working around the barn space heaters can be used. Use heaters with hard plastic casing and no exposed metal coils. Heaters need to be turned off at the end of the day.
*Never use space heaters near stalls or hay supplies. This is a no brainer. Use them to warm office areas and other common areas. You may also want to consider one of indoor riding arenas to turn out your horses during these colder months.
And probably one of the most important things to remember when building your barn even though it may not be cold when you take the project on is found right on our horizonstructures.com website.
The natural insulating properties of wood make it the obvious choice for construction of your horse barns. Horse barns or horse stables made of wood will stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter ensuring your horse’s maximum comfort regardless of the season.
So whether it is your first winter with a new barn or if you have owned a barn for many years, winter horse care is not difficult to understand once you know the basics. The main goal is to keep extra moisture and excessive wind out of the barn and keep your horses as comfortable as possible. A well thought out barn plan and a well built barn from Horizon Structures is a great way to start. Go to www.horizonstructures.com and visit the barn pages horizonstructures.com/hb_landing.asp to see the different types of barns we have available. Feel free to ask questions and let us help you design the structure that works for you.