Winter is Coming! Ok, that is probably my favorite quotable line from Game of Thrones. Have you heard of it? If you haven’t watched this series, I would highly recommend it. Especially if you have an Amazon Prime membership. It’s definitely worth watching.
But I digress. I’m not here to share a review of Game of Thrones with you. No, I am here to talk to you about getting your barn ready for the upcoming winter! Because like it or not, winter IS coming, and the time to prepare for it is before the temperatures start falling and the days get even shorter. So let’s prepare for winter now, while it’s still relatively nice outside!
Pack Away Freezable Items
If you keep your fly sprays, shampoos, and other grooming products in your barn, and it’s not protected from freezing temperatures, you will want to move these products to a place where they are protected from the falling temperatures. This includes your first aid items.
I take all of these products from my tack room, and little barn, and bring them into my garage. This way they are mostly safe. That is until the temperature falls so low that even things in our garage freeze. And yes, that does happen!
I put everything I can into my rolling tool box – this is also where I keep all of my first aid supplies together. But then I bring it into our garage and store it somewhere away from the cold and freezing temperatures. As a side note, this would make an excellent Christmas gift for your favorite equestrian. It is a multipurpose item that will see LOTS of use. It’s also a really good item to put on your own Christmas wish list.
Winter Horse Blankets
This is something I didn’t do last year, and I really should have! But if your horse wears a blanket (or two) during the cold months, or if your horse is like my Horse Plezant, and has multiple blankets depending on the temperature
Do yourself a favor and get those blankets ready for winter NOW before it gets cold.
This year, I took all of heavy winter blankets and washed them using my pressure washer. It made fast work of a very dirty job.
Then I allowed them to dry for about 48 hours on my front porch.
Next, because I washed them with a detergent, I wanted to reapply a water repellent to help keep these blankets waterproof, which will keep my horses dry and warm when they need it the most. And yes, you can re-waterproof your horse blankets!
I chose Scotchguard Outdoor Water shield which is meant for waterproofing outdoor things like tents, and canvases. It’s a lot more affordable than some of the ‘real’ horse blanket water proofers.
But if you are going to do this yourself, make sure you do it on a nice day, and wear gloves, as well as a mask. Thankfully, right now we all have extra masks right?
It took me one container of waterproofing to waterproof, or re-waterproof 3 horse 82” horse blankets. Time will tell if I did a good job, because I haven’t used them, yet. But it is a comforting feeling knowing I have them and they are ready for use when the bad weather comes. And I mean, I live in Colorado, so it is inevitable that the bad weather will be coming.
If you want to watch the process of actually washing horse blankets, and waterproofing them, I have a video showing how I did it.
A Wintertime Grooming Kit
During the winter, I do now spend near the amount of time grooming my horses that I do the rest of the year. So I have a much smaller grooming kit that I use for the winter months. This is what my wintertime kit consists of:
- Grooming Tote – just a small plastic tote to hold these items
- Heavy duty brush hoof pick – heavy duty is best – trust me!
- Stiff rice root brush – helps to remove deep dirt from long winter coat
- Massage curry – helps to massage, doesn’t need to be horse specific
- Regular Rubber curry – the web hand strap is best in the winter
- Long Bristle Brush – synthetic bristles are better to reduce static charge
And that’s it! Not very many things for the wintertime grooming. Of course I have my regular grooming kit. But for the wintertime, I have a separate kit that I use to take care of my horses’ wintertime coats. And this year I also have my horse vacuum that I splurged on last summer. I love it! It does have 3 grooming tool attachments too that are made for using on horses.
It was much more affordable that a traditional horse vacuum. And although it is meant to be used as a garage vacuum, the hose that came with it stretches to over 35 feet long! I have it mounted on the wall in my little barn, and then I just drag out the hose to my grooming area.
Granted it doesn’t get used a lot, but this is one investment I am glad I made, especially to have during the winter!
Windbreak For Paddocks
Every year I try to improve my windbreaking skills for my horses paddocks. This is because well, it’s windy wear I live. And in the past, I have resorted to using privacy fencing, and tarps. But this year I discovered something a little bit different,
I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before! Probably because in the past, I have been more reactionary when it came to providing a wind break for the paddocks instead of planning ahead. In a perfect world, I would have built an overhang on the front of the lean too which is where my horses live. But that goal hasn’t been realized yet. Hopefully it will be next year.
But for this year, I invested in privacy screens to attach to the corral panels to help shield the horses from the wind as well as providing a bock for the heavy snow that can happen, and load up Frisby’s stall.
So my intention is to not only have this privacy screen be functional, but I want it to look nice too.
In the past I have used tarps, but they looked pretty bad. But these privacy screens do not look too bad, in my opinion.
I found these privacy screens on Amazon for around $30.00 each – about the same cost as a tarp, but these look a LOT better. I’m sure my neighbors appreciate this!
I bought 3 of them and attached them to the corral panels with the plethora of twine I have from hay bales. This is why I save all that twine. I knew it would come in handy one day!
I was able to put them on in a little over an hour and create a wind and hopefully a snow block as well. Again, like the blanket waterproofing, time will tell if it works well or not.
Only one more thing to get ready for the colder weather – making sure my boys have access to unfrozen water. And this is something I have done for years, so I am well versed in keeping my horses watering holes ice free.
A couple of years ago I bought these bucket insulators for inside the barn. And at first, for like the first year, I really didn’t think they were worth the investment. But then the following winter, merely by accident, I found out how to make them truly work!
To make them work, you fill up a bucket with hot water, about ½ the way full. Then you fill the rest of the bucket with lukewarm water. I’m not even sure that it needs to be lukewarm. But I do this at night when I feed my horses. Especially on a projected cold, zero degree night. When I go out in the morning to feed them, the bucket is still ice free.
These bucket insulators really do work! You just have to know how to use them.
This will be the third winter I have had them, and they have held up beautifully. Sure they get dirty, but it is so nice knowing my horses have access to water inside their stalls even when the weather is frozen, windy and wet.
And Frisby really drinks well when I hang a hay net in his stall during the winter. He doesn’t do this so much in the summer months. But always during the winter, he drinks better inside of his stall.
I also get ready for winter by putting the tank heater back in the outside water tank.
I have had this heater for 3 years, and it’s worked the best of any I have had. If you are planning on using a tank heater like this in your own set up, make sure that your tank heater is safe to use in whichever type of tank you use.
This one is safe for rubber, or composite. There are other styles that are only for use in metal tanks. But I would highly recommend some sort of tank heater if the temperature gets below freezing where you live and you have your horses at home. It is a very nice thing to not have to break ice several times a day on a water tank during the winter. As well as knowing that my horses can access their water whenever they want too.
Getting Your Barn Ready For Winter
Alrighty then! There you have it! A bunch of things that you can, and should be doing right now to get your barn set up ready for winter. Like I said earlier, its better to be prepared and ready before you need to be, especially when it comes to winter preparedness with horses. Then maybe, just maybe, you can enjoy the cold weather a little bit more knowing your horses are warm and dry in their stalls. Even if you are snuggled up yourself inside your home, At least you’ll know your horses are taken care of too!