It’s always a bit sad when summer winds down, the kids are heading back to school, the horses are shedding their summer coats and the days become shorter. I love and always have loved fall but I’m not a huge fan of winter. Winter can be a challenge for horse owners and farm owners, so use this list to prepare ahead of time to make sure you and your horses are ready.
Take Down & Store Fans
Once the weather starts to cool down a bit it’s time to remove fans from your stalls for the season. I like to clean each fan before storing it in a safe place for the winter. This is also a good time to replace any fans that are not working as this is a great time of year to get end of season discounts.
The easiest way I’ve found to clean out my fans is to use the leaf blower we use to keep the barn aisle clean. Just try not to blow all the dust into your face!
De-cobweb The Barn & Hayloft
Ah the infamous cob webs. Almost any article you find on the internet with barn cleaning tips, daily horse care tasks, seasonal preparation tasks etc. will reference cob webs. To be honest, you should be cleaning cob webs out of your stalls, aisle and hay loft regularly.
But, if you’ve been putting it off, you should take the time to do it now. As you start to remove certain items like fans from your barn aisle and replace them with the new season’s gear you will have access to areas that may have been blocked or hard to reach before. And as we’ll discuss later on in this article, you’ll be getting ready to stock up on things like hay, so you should thoroughly de-cobweb your hay loft before loading up for the season.
Organize Blankets & Re-Water Proof
Like most horse owners, you probably had your blankets cleaned and repaired at the end of last season and stored them for summer. However, that does not mean you’re completely off the hook. There are still a few tasks related to blankets (if your horse wears them) to prepare for the cooler weather.
First, check to make sure you indeed have the appropriate blankets for each horse in your barn. For example, we like to make sure all of our horses have a stable blanket, a turn out blanket, a turn out sheet and a hood. . We also like to make sure we have spare blankets in case one gets wet and needs time to dry, gets destroyed etc.
Ps. Am I the only one who has a horse that thinks tearing blankets is a fun game?
And while you’re at it you should make sure you have enough wool or fleece coolers and quarter sheets in the barn for cold weather riding.
Check out some of my favorite blankets and coolers below!
Yep, those are affiliate links which means that I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you purchase a blanket through one of the links below I may make a small commission which helps to support the creation of new content on this site and on my upcoming YouTube channel! I only recommend products I truly like and believe in.
Now that you have checked your inventory, it’s time make sure the repairs you had done were done correctly. If any of the blankets are still missing a strap or have a hole that wasn’t patched make sure to get it taken care of before the weather gets cold.
Then, you can move on to waterproofing. Applying a new coat of water proofing spray to your blankets each year can help you get the most out of your blankets. Since blankets aren’t cheap it’s great to be able to get multiple seasons out of them!
Check & Repair Fencing
Cold weather means brittle fencing so if you have minor repairs that do not get addressed your fences are more likely to break. So, before the first frost hits it’s a smart move to inspect the fencing around your property. If you have any boards that need to be replaced, now is the time! As you go, check your fence posts too and if one seems loose take the time to secure it now before the ground freezes.
Fixing fencing in the cold with brittle materials, cold fingers and frozen ground is not a fun chore. So, save yourself the extra headache by proactively checking your fences now.
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Stock Up On Feed & Bedding
Another common but useful tip amongst barns and horse owners. Stock up on hay and shavings for the season. There are multiple reasons for doing this which we’ll cover. But this year, more than ever with supply chain issues and fuel prices this is going to be a necessary step for all barns.
Feed and bedding can be difficult to get during the winter if the supply is low, so make sure to buy enough to last. On top of the fuel prices, sometimes getting deliveries of supplies in the winter when the roads are bad due to storms is impossible. I recommend stocking up on supplies during mid to late fall to ensure you have enough for the winter. You’ll need to make sure you have the space to store supplies as well so take the time to calculate what you need.
Also, if you use sawdust in bulk like we do at our farm it either needs to be stored in a place that will prevent it from freezing or you’ll need to buy some bagged shavings as back up. We do our best to keep our sawdust dry but we always stock up on shavings as well.
If the horses in your barn work throughout the winter, decide which horses need to be body clipped or trace clipped. Plan ahead since it takes a lot of time to clip multiple horses and you won’t want to be clipping them last minute or during the cold. If you time it right, you will avoid having to deal with long hair that you couldn’t get thoroughly clean. And you’ll give your horse’s coat a little time to grow in enough that your horse won’t be as cold.
If you’re in the market for a pair of clippers or clipping supplies, check out my recommendations below!
Of course, in addition to planning out the type of clips and the timing, you’ll need to be prepared to keep the horses warm. So, as I mentioned above be sure you have appropriate blankets, coolers and quarter sheets for any horses that will be clipped.
Stock Up & Store First Aid Supplies & Medication
Winter just makes everything more challenging including getting your veterinarian out for an emergency. So, be sure you have enough first aid supplies and medications on hand to help you keep your horse comfortable during an unexpected injury or colic. Things like leg wrapping supplies, betadine, cotton, Bute, Banamine, saline, etc. are commonly needed and the last thing you want is to run out of supplies.
I suggest doing an inventory of what you have, check expiration dates and make a list of supplies that need to be replenished. Next, stock up on the essentials and have a plan for storage. Prevent your medications from freezing by storing them in a climate controlled environment. At our farm, that means keeping them in the house. If you need to store them outside of the barn be sure they are on the property and accessible to staff.
One of the biggest challenges in the winter is inclement weather and naturally, horses like to choose inconvenient times to get sick or injured. It’s important to have a plan for keeping access to your horse trail, hitch unfrozen and have the ability to tow your trailer safely in less than ideal conditions.
If your horse needs to be taken to the veterinary clinic during inclement weather you need to be able to transport him. Always have a plan in place for handling situations like these. Who will feed the horses if you get stuck at the clinic? How will you get the horse to the trailer and on the road? I’ve personally experienced this situation and it was difficult but luckily it happened during the day and not in the dark of night.
Snow Removal Plan
In order to have an effective emergency plan you’ll also need to have a plan for snow removal. You’ll need to be able to give customers, veterinarian, farrier and deliveries access into your facility. Plus you’ll want to be able to get off the property as needed.
If you plan to remove snow yourself, plan out where you’ll pile snow, which areas are the most crucial to keep clear and make sure you have the proper equipment. If you plan to hire a plow, make sure they understand the importance of never cancelling or showing up late to ensure the health and safety of the horses.
Service Farm Equipment
It’s a good idea to keep the necessary equipment for running the farm in good repair. Fall is a great time to make sure your snow blower is running or get it tuned up if need be. You can also have your tractor, trailer and truck serviced if needed. Check your tires to make sure you don’t get a flat during the cold months and your equipment will be reliable.
Replace Broken Items In The Barn
Fall is a great time to replace any items in the barn that are breaking or broken. Those snaps you’ve been struggling with for the last few months will only be worse to deal with in the cold. If you have cracked buckets the cold will likely cause them to break completely.
Do a complete once over of your equipment in the barn to determine which items could easily be swapped out during the fall.
Test The Water Heaters
Access to water is a key component of horse care regardless of the season. With the chill in the air comes ice. Before the weather turns check the water heaters you’ll use in your outdoor water buckets to make sure they’re functioning properly. You don’t want to find out you can’t keep water from freezing when it’s already too late.
Picture a cold winter morning, you turn your horse out in his paddock and find frozen water. So, you lug some buckets of fresh water from the barn to hold him over and head to the store. Where you find they’re sold out of water heaters! Save yourself the agony and just test all of your water heaters before winter!
Clean Out The Gutters
You may have already had your gutters cleaned in the spring once everything thawed. But, even so, cleaning them out again will help prevent ice dams. You can also check your roofing and the rest of the barn structure for any other damage or cracks that need to be addressed before the snow and ice are upon us.
Check & Replace Lights
As the days grow colder they also get shorter, meaning we’ll be losing that precious sunlight. Make sure all of your indoor and outdoor lights in the barn, riding arena, stalls etc. are in good working order. If a lightbulb needs to be changed take care of it now.
You should also check the batteries in your flashlights and make sure they’re in an accessible location. Fishing around in the dark to find supplies is no fun!
I hope you found this article helpful! If you did please share it!
Check out these related articles before you go!
16 Fun Things To Do With Your Horse When Show Season Ends
Why Is It Dangerous To Ride Horses In The Extreme Cold?
Winter Horse Care Tips You Need To Know!