I was lucky enough to spend four days at home on my parents’ farm for Christmas. It also just so happen to be the start of winter, and it really came in with a bang. There were about 3-4 inches of snow already on the ground. So I figured I’d share a little about what winter on the farm entails.
Saturday morning I had to dig out the heated water buckets for the horses’ stalls–even inside the barn, if the temperatures drop water will freeze in the buckets, and horses won’t drink frozen water, which can cause a lot of health problems, so it’s best to have a way to prevent the water from freezing. So I climbed up to the hay loft and threw down four heated buckets, washed them, then replaced the regular water buckets in each of the mares’ stalls.
Then I got out their blankets and brushed them off from dust, cob webs, and just a general look-through to make sure there wasn’t anything that would make them uncomfortable. As long as they’re not being shown, we want the horses to have nice thick winter hair coats, so I try to wait until colder temps (teens) before they wear their blankets 24-hours. Some times night time, when they’re not able to move around a lot, we’ll have them wear their blankets.
We’ll still put the horses outside, as long as it’s not freezing rain or bad winter storms. It’s better for them to be able to get out to stretch their legs, get a good roll in, and graze a little. Horses are a lot like us–if they’ve been cooped up in one place (in this case, their stalls), they are not happy. Most people leave horses out 24/7 because that’s how horses are–they weren’t meant to be indoors all the time. Because the grass has died, horses do need something to eat to keep their “self-supported furnace” running to keep their bodies warm. (If you’d like to read more about keeping horses warm in the winter, check out my publication’s website and read this article: Keeping Horses Warm.)
When it snows, it can be hard to keep things running in the barn. Now that my parents are older, my dad will ask a neighbor to come plow the driveway. The horses still have to be taken care of at least twice a day, no matter the weather, so it’s important to be able to go down there to keep their buckets filled, plenty of hay, and just to make sure they’re all in one piece.
Just a short note on spending winter on a horse farm. It’s definitely easier to just worry about winter in town with dogs, but I still miss those snow rides and watching the horses run and play in the snow.