NYB: Winter Barn Prep: How to Prep your Ponies and Facilities for the Cold

With winter just around the corner, or maybe even here in some states, it is important to make sure your ponies, your barn, and even you are ready for the cold! While winter looks different all around the country, here are some tips on how you can be ready for these frigid, snowy months!

Check and Weatherproof Blankets

Having well fitting, waterproof blankets is a must for the winter! Take a few minutes to label your blankets so they don’t get lost at the barn, check them over and patch any holes or loose stitching, and spray them down with some waterproof spray to keep your horses dry through the night. This will help ensure they last and will keep your horses comfortable. 

Ensure Paddocks and Stalls are Safe

Spending some time checking stalls and pastures for holes, rocks, loose nails or boards is a task that should be completed frequently to ensure your horses are safe. But before the snow flies and the paddocks are winter wonderlands, do a more thorough check and perform any necessary maintenance. The changing temperatures, varying moisture in the air, and heavy weight of snow can take a toll on the strength and durability of fences, shelters, and more. Ensuring your pony’s home is safe and adequately prepared for these natural changes is a necessity!

Have Extra Clothing Accessible

I always say: you can never bring too much water, too much food, or too many clothes to the barn. Having extra clothing available in your car, tack trunk, and trailer is something you will never regret. Keep a spare pair of gloves in case they get wet, a hat so your ears don’t get frostbitten, and an old jacket everywhere you think you might need it. Having materials to keep yourself comfortable at the barn will ensure you can take the best care of your horses.

Establish a Winter Manure Pile

Scooping and dumping manure in the winter can be such a chore. Before the snow flies, find a good (possibly temporary) spot to leave manure in the cold. Hauling heavy wheelbarrows ¼ mile down the road in 6 inches of snow is never fun, so having a more accessible manure pile can help make the task less daunting and much more doable.

Clean your Tack and Tack Trunks

In the winter, it is very rare that I actually put a saddle and bridle on. I live in the middle of the mountains without an indoor arena so my tack typically gets put away for the winter. Before storing any tack or show essentials, go through and clean and organize everything. Giving your tack a deep condition will help preserve the life of your leather, and having clean, ready-to-use tack trunks will definitely make spring show packing more enjoyable. 

Ensure Water Heaters are Working

Water heaters are a must in especially cold areas. And I firmly believe water heaters are not the kind of thing to be cheap about. Go through and check that your current and backup water heaters are properly functioning and are in good condition. Having your horse’s water heater breakdown is incredibly dangerous so do what you can to ensure your horse will always have drinkable, liquid water at all times. 

Have Essentials Stocked at the Barn in Case of Emergency

Extra blankets, jugs of water, and food items are great essentials to have at the barn in case of emergency. If your horse is ever hurt late at night and you’re waiting for the vet or if a storm comes and you’re snowed in, be prepared for the worst case scenario. Like I said before, you will never be too prepared. Better safe than sorry!

While winter preparation seems like a daunting task, you will not regret taking the time to ensure you are ready for anything! 

The National Youth Board (NYB) serves as a liaison between Pony Club’s youth members and the Board of Governors by communicating the needs, ideas, and concerns of USPC youth. NYB members also work with the national office on projects related to marketing, leadership development, and service for the benefit of the organization and all Pony Club members. Delegates of the NYB are between 18 – 23 years of age, highly motivated and dedicated, and have strong leadership and communication skills. To learn more, log in and visit the National Youth Board page.

https://www.ponyclub.org/Members/Leadership/NatYouthBoard/

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