6 Tips to Organize Your Tack Trunk

Tack trunk organizing may only happen once in a blue moon, but if you are going to take the time, you want to do it effectively. Follow these tips to give your trunk a thorough cleaning and re-vamp to save yourself unnecessary trouble down the road.

1. Begin by emptying your trunk out completely. Being at the barn and around horse shows, tack trunks can collect a large amount of dirt without you even realizing. Take everything out and thoroughly clean the base and walls of your trunk.

2. Weed out what you don’t need or use. If you don’t routinely clean out your trunk, odds are you have a few things that aren’t of use anymore. Ask yourself if you will use it in the next year and if not, donate or toss it. The same goes for older items – if something is too worn or too old to be effective, it’s probably time to let go.

3. Clean the items that are left. If your trunk is newly cleaned, you don’t want to toss dirt-covered items right back into it. Give everything a thorough cleaning before finding a place for it back in the trunk.

4. Prioritize your most used items. Not everything needs to be taking up space in your trunk. Set aside items you only use seasonally or a few times a year, such as fly sheets or winter gloves. Find a closet in your barn or house to store these items so they don’t spend the year gathering dust and dirt in your trunk. When the seasons change, or you find a need for a rarely used item, you can make the necessary swaps.

5. Organize for convenience. When putting your trunk back together, do yourself a favor down the road. While it may be tempting to play a game of Tetris to see how nicely things fit together, this may not be the most practical strategy. Make sure the items you use daily are the easiest to access. The last thing you want is to dig for your gloves and crop as you walk your impatient horse to the mounting block.

6. Use storage containers and dividers. Often trunks don’t have dividers built in, so head to Amazon or The Container Store to find some appropriately sized baskets, drawers, and boxes to fit certain items to prevent them from disappearing, especially the small ones. You can even save money by reusing containers from other sources, rather than buying them new. Trunks can get tossed around in transit to and from horse shows, so storage dividers will help keep things in place and make your organization efforts worthwhile.

Five Tips to Prepare Your Barn for Fall

1. Organize your blankets

Cold nights will start creeping in before you know it, so make sure each horse’s lightweight sheet is identified and cleaned, especially those who may be clipped. Keep tabs on the temperature lows each night as summer begins to turn into fall so you don’t lose sight of the nights when your horses may need light blanketing. Also have the heavier blankets ready to go so winter doesn’t sneak up on you and leave you unprepared.

2. Make a plan with all the students (and parents) at your barn

It’s back-to-school time, which means busier schedules for most families that may board or train at your farm. Make sure you keep in touch with those who may be heading back to school so you can help manage their horses and their riding goals despite their busier schedules. This communication will lead to more successful outcomes for everyone as many commitments are being juggled by all parties.

3. Inspect your farm for damage or deterioration

Winter is prime time for problems such as leaky roofing, broken fences, loose hinges, insulation problems, footing issues, and more. You don’t want to save these fixes for the middle of winter, when they’re hardest to repair. Survey your property for signs that things may need attention. Be sure your windows and doors are functioning properly to seal in the heat during the cold nights to come. Check on your water tanks and insulated pipes to be sure you won’t face any issues when freezing temperatures hit. If anything needs adjusting, the fall is the perfect time to make those repairs.

4. Have a severe weather plan in place

The fall can also bring with it the chance of severe weather in many parts of the country. The east coast may face hurricanes, so be sure to identify an inland location in case you need to evacuate yourself and your horses. Research how to prepare a farm structure for high winds and heavy rain ahead of time. Other parts of the country may see other severe weather risks, such as wildfires. If you find yourself facing evacuation, many horse show grounds and similar facilities will accept evacuees and offer horses a place to stay out of harm’s way. As fall turns into winter, heavy snowstorms can put those up north at risk, limiting access to necessities for the horses. It helps in this scenario to have 10% more supplies on hand than you normally need to keep your stable full of horses safe and healthy in case of a weather shutdown. Above all else, stay tuned in to the news this fall so you won’t be caught off-guard if the weather starts to get dangerous in your area.

5. Decorate!

There’s nothing more fun than breaking out the fall décor as the leaves begin to change and the air gets a little cooler. The best part of decorating for fall is that decorations can stay up from September through November, so you can enjoy your efforts for a long time. Use horse-safe decorations to add some fall vibes to your barn, including pumpkins, string lights (out of reach of horses), scarecrows, and more. If you have jumps in your arena, add some hay bales, pumpkins, and colorful gourds to make them festive. You can even plan a socially distant Halloween party with a costume contest to get the whole barn involved in a fun activity.

 

7 Tips to Effectively Manage Horses and School

The school year may look different in the fall of 2020, but it doesn’t mean students are any less busy than during a typical school year. From classes and assignments to college applications and outside tutoring sessions, it can be hard to find time to ride and care for horses. BarnManager is here to help you navigate the transition back to school while ensuring your horses’ care and programs don’t slip through the cracks.

1. Enlist a team you trust.

Everyone knows that behind every successful duo in the show ring is a knowledgeable, capable, and devoted team. We’ve all heard the phrase, “it takes a village,” and with horses, it’s no different. From the trainer, to the groom, vet, parent, chiropractor, sibling, and everyone in between, it’s crucial to develop relationships with the team surrounding you and your horse to know he or she is in the best of hands when school gets too demanding. Trusting individuals with your horse’s care will allow you the peace of mind to devote yourself to the most important task at any given moment and not worry about your horse’s care or training.

2. Maintain regular communication.

Even with your team in place, you still need to communicate among all team members to ensure everyone is on the same page and nothing gets overlooked. If you can only come ride two days per week, let the trainer know when you will be there and when you expect your horse to be ridden by someone else. This way, you avoid mix-ups and assumptions that can leave everyone frustrated. Communicate about all the little things, as well, including supplements, vet visits, and other details about which you would like to stay informed.

3. Keep it digital.

We live in a constantly evolving digital world, but we can use technology to our advantage to better track what’s going on with our horses. Using a platform like BarnManager allows for consistent messaging and communication. The advantage to a digital space for communicating is to be able to refer back to a conversation that happened. This way, you won’t wonder if you forgot to mention something to your trainer or groom about your horse, and you will be able to review what your trainer may have already relayed to you.

4. Stay on top of your (and your horse’s) goals.

Have a conversation with your team at the beginning of the school year about your upcoming riding goals. Whether it’s wanting to move up, qualify for finals, or just have a good time getting to know your horse in the show ring, this will adequately prepare everyone to manage time and resources most effectively to accomplish these goals. If you have specific goals in mind for your horse, make sure your trainer knows this from the get-go and be sure to check in on how those goals are progressing throughout the year, even if you can’t be there to see for yourself.

5. Keep watching the sport.

Another benefit of the digital world coming to life in horse sports is the utilization of live streams at competitions across the country. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to ride or compete as frequently, be sure to tune into some live streams when you have time. You can learn so much from watching others navigate a course, and most platforms let you watch for free and even allow replays. If you’re a good multi-tasker, have a competition on in the background while you finish schoolwork; if not, reward yourself for finishing a daunting task by turning on a horse show.

6. Prioritize.

Perhaps the most important, yet most difficult aspect of being a horse owner or rider is prioritizing tasks. Begin each month and each week by analyzing what you have to do and what is most important to you and your personal goals. Do you want to make good grades and get into the college of your dreams? Maybe riding needs to take a back seat. Do you want to qualify for indoors and maybe ride in college one day? Then perhaps riding should play a bigger role in your everyday life. Of course, prioritizing your time is a conversation that must happen with your family and everyone involved in your efforts, both riding-related and academic, but it is important to know what matters most to you, so you can know how to effectively allocate your time.

7. Manage your time.

Perhaps the most important tactic in maintaining good grades while also riding and competing is effective time management. Make every hour count by scheduling your ride times and making efficiency a top priority as you go about your day. If you have a solid grasp on your time and don’t let it slip away chatting with barn friends or scrolling through social media, you’ll have more time in your day to devote to schoolwork and riding. Being a student also requires creative solutions for getting your work done, whether it’s in transit to or from a horse show, in between classes at a show, during free periods at school, or any other pockets of time you can use to your advantage.

Above all, this year is a time to emphasize safety while navigating both school and riding, so be sure not to forget safety protocols when going about your busy days. Focusing on safety, studying, and riding is a tough balance to achieve, but keeping all these factors in mind will help you on the path to accomplishing goals in everything you do.

 

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Equine Coronavirus Vs. COVID-19: Two Distinctly Different Diseases

This Notice was originally posted by Palm Beach Equine Clinic

The recent spread of the novel coronavirus has raised serious concerns as the status continues to evolve. As equine veterinarians, Palm Beach Equine Clinic would like to address the questions and concern raised by horse owners regarding the potential impact of this disease on the equine industry.

Coronaviruses include a large group of RNA viruses that cause respiratory and enteric symptoms, and have been reported in domestic and wild animals. Equine Enteric Coronavirus and COVID-19 are both coronaviruses, however, they are distinctly different viruses.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infectious disease experts, and multiple international and national human and animal health organizations have stated that at this time there is NO EVIDENCE to indicate that horses could contract COVID-19 or that horses would be able to spread the disease to other animals or humans. Equine enteric coronavirus and COVID-19 are NOT the same strain, and there is no indication that either are transmissible between species.

Therefore, it is important to concentrate on the health of our equestrians by being precautious and following recommendations from public health officials. Palm Beach Equine Clinic will continue to make every effort to stay informed on the developments with COVID-19, and will continue to provide expert veterinary care to all horses regardless of the status of this disease.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic is equipped with secure isolation stalls and follows strict biosecurity measures. Photo by Erin Gilmore Photography

 

A Profile of Equine Enteric Coronavirus

Equine coronavirus is an enteric, or gastrointestinal, disease in the horse. There is NO EVIDENCE that equine enteric coronavirus poses a threat to humans or other species of animals.

Photo by Jump Media LLC

  • Transmission: Equine coronavirus is transmitted between horses when manure from an infected horse is ingested by another horse (fecal-oral transmission), or if a horse makes oral contact with items or surfaces that have been contaminated with infected manure.
  • Common Clinical Signs: Typically mild signs that may include anorexia, lethargy, fever, colic or diarrhea.
  • Diagnosis: Veterinarians diagnose equine enteric coronavirus by testing fecal samples, and the frequency of this disease is low.
  • Treatment and Prevention: If diagnosed, treatment is supportive care, such as fluid therapy and anti-inflammatories, and establishing good biosecurity precautions of quarantining the infected horse. Keeping facilities as clean as possible by properly disposing of manure will help decrease chances of horses contracting the virus.

INFORMATION FOR THIS NOTICE WAS COMPILED USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES:

Cornell Animal Health Diagnostic Center: https://www.vet.cornell.edu/animal-health-diagnostic-center/veterinary-support/disease-information/equine-enteric-coronavirus

American Association of Equine Practitioners, Equine Disease Communication Center: https://aaep.org/sites/default/files/Documents/Outside%20Linked%20Documents/DiseaseFactsheet_Coronavirus.pdf

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Six Ways to Reduce Horse Show Stress

It may feel like there have been a number of things to stress about recently, but your horse show experience shouldn’t have to be one of them!

The more relaxed you are able to be while competing, the more likely you are to be successful (and to enjoy the horse show). With that in mind, here are six tips to practice to help prevent horse show nerves and anxiety even before they happen!

1) Get prepared long in advance  It’s more than making packing lists and practicing your braiding skills, it’s about going to schooling shows, getting out to ride in a clinic, or exposing your horse in low pressure situations to all of the things he might see at a horse show.

While it’s good to push yourself, it’s also best to only compete at a level that you feel prepared for and comfortable with. Going into the show feeling overwhelmed or extremely unconfident in your ability to jump a certain height or perform certain movements isn’t a good feeling and will greatly increase stress levels. Particularly if horse show anxiety is already something that you struggle with, it may be best to focus on building confidence at a level that you’re more comfortable with.

2) If you’re doing it yourself, have your grooming, braiding, and tack cleaning game down pat – Put in lots of practice at home, and make note of how long it takes you. Then, add a big time cushion when you get to the show so that you’re not rushed.

3) Eat well, sleep well, breathe well – One surefire way to obtain this is to have a regular exercise routine for YOU.  Learn some mediation techniques, some easy breathing exercises, and notice your stress level before it starts to escalate.

4) Have a support system in place– If you don’t like to drive the horse trailer, hire someone to take this stress away. Make sure your trainer can be there to help you warm up. Bring a friend or loved one. They don’t even have to be a horse person, simply having a close friend around to talk to can help calm your nerves.

5) Don’t try and cram it all in – If you think that a few classes over a weekend might be too much, then opt for one or two classes on one day. Most horse shows will let you trailer in for a day. Aim to give yourself time to walk around, watch your friends, and let your horse chill out.

6) Think about the bigger picture –  At the end of the day, one bad round, test, or class, is just a small part of the bigger picture. Maybe you didn’t get a ribbon, but your performance was a marginal improvement from your last show. Perhaps it didn’t go your way at all, but you still have the privilege of riding and competing and trying again another time.

Want more great advice on mastering your show ring mental game? Read here!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Our 10 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2019

2019 was a great year in many regards here at BarnManager. We introduced new subscription options and new featurespartnered with U.S. Equestrian on an exciting new integration, and learned a lot from a number of industry experts while producing content for this blog! As we reflect on 2019, here’s a look at 10 of our most popular blog posts of the year (in no particular order).

1) Tips and Tricks from the Best Show Jumping Grooms to the Greats

We caught up with four top show jumping grooms to learn what they don’t go to the ring without, their time save and grooming tips, and more in this well-read blog post!

Here’s one answer from Ninna Leonoff, a vital part of Markus Beerbaum’s team for more than 20 years, on the most rewarding part of the job:

“When the horses are feeling good; when they are looking good. That’s most important for me. I think these days, to keep them feeling good soundness wise is important and rewarding. I really like to get to know my horses. I like to spend time with them so I know how they feel. Even brushing I can feel if they have sore backs or they’re tired or fresh.”

Continue reading more of this popular q&a here!

2) Eight Barn Hacks to Save You Time and Money!

Here’s one of the eight tips from this blog post:

Cut designs into the end of your polo wraps to easily identify matching sets. –  This tip from ProEquineGrooms is a great one if you’ve ever found yourself wasting time attempting to roll up and match sets of polo wraps! Instead, cut a small, matching design into the end of all of the polo wraps in a set. This could be a small triangle cut out of the middle of the end, the corners cut off, or something similar – anything that will allow you to easily recognize which polos go together.

Read more here!

3) Ketchup and Crisco in the Barn? Eight Kitchen Item Horse Care Hacks!

What do ketchup, Crisco, popsicles, soap, and cornstarch have in common? They could save you time or money and solve problems in the barn!

We asked our followers and scoured the internet for the best kitchen horse care hacks, and both delivered in this blog post!

4) Five Fundamentals of Equitation from Stacia Klein Madden and the Iron Bridge Hounds Pony Club 

Stacia Klein Madden can typically be found ringside during major equitation classes at top horse shows across the country or at home at Beacon Hill Show Stables training some of the country’s most competitive junior and amateur hunter, jumper, and equitation riders.

Earlier this year though, our BarnManager team found Madden somewhere a little bit different: in Maryland amidst 11 young U.S. Pony Club riders and their adorable, fuzzy ponies and well-schooled mounts.

The riders – ranging in age from seven to 16 and in skill level from walk-trot to those competent at jumping three feet – generally focus on dressage, eventing, and beginning show jumping in their lessons, but Madden’s presence meant something different for them as well: a special clinic with a focus on the “Fundamentals of Equitation.”

This blog compiles five of our favorite fundamental reminders from the clinic with Madden!

5) Four Ways to Streamline Your Barn Management 

Whether you are managing a large show barn or boarding operation or taking care of your own mounts, chances are good that you got into the role for one primary reason: because you enjoy spending time with horses.

Unfortunately, if you’re in one of the aforementioned positions, you also know that far too often time spent enjoying the horses can get overshadowed by the scheduling of lessons, and farrier visits, and veterinary appointments, and the horse sho

w entries, and the feeding, and the record keeping, and the tack and equipment organization and maintenance, and the planning of each day, and… well, you get the idea!

While you can’t eliminate these things entirely – they’re important to keeping the horses happy and healthy and the business running smoothly – there are several ways that you can streamline your paperwork and simplify your barn management to get you out of the office or away from the white board and back with the horses more often, and this blog post shares a few of them!

6) Barn Manager Tips and Tricks: Eventing Edition! – Part One

“Pay attention to detail. Get to know your horses – their legs, coat, skin, eating habits, turnout behaviors, etc. and use it to your advantage. I have one horse that is super sensitive to the sand, skipping one day of washing his legs and skin funk shows up, but then the only thing that works on it is Micro Tek. I’ve tried every other anti-fungal shampoo with no luck.

I have another horse who eats half of his breakfast every morning, goes outside for a couple hours, gets ridden, and then will finish breakfast. All of these things are normal, but it scares everyone when they first start working for us. Don’t let the little things get to you, because horses spend every day of their lives trying to hurt or kill themselves, so things are going to happen that are out of your control.”

Read more tips from Courtney Carson in this blog post!

7) Barn Manager Tips and Tricks: Eventing Edition! – Part Two

Emma Ford has been an integral part of the team at Phillip Dutton International since 2005, including traveling with the two-time Olympic gold medalist to multiple World Equestrian Games, Pan American Games, and Olympic Games. She shared some of her grooming and barn management tips and tricks in this popular blog post!

8) Inside the IEA Hunt Seat National Finals! 

Riding in equestrian competitions of any discipline requires an important prerequisite: the actual horse on which to compete! At most horse shows and events available to young riders, that means either owning a horse of their own or leasing one. Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) shows, however, are an exception.

The organization, now open to students in grades four through 12, makes riding in hunt seat, western, and dressage competitions more accessible to many young riders, as competition horses are provided at all events. Competing riders show up to the event and randomly draw which horse they will be riding that day. For flat classes, they even enter the ring with no prior warm-up!

But if the riders are not bringing all of their own horses, where do these magical, ready-to-show horses come from? And who is taking care of and managing them? And how do the riders know that the mount they are getting will be cooperative?

Our BarnManager team caught up with the barn manager and horse coordination team working seamlessly behind the scenes at the 2019 IEA Hunt Seat National Finals to learn more about what makes it all possible. Read more about the process, from months before the show to the moment that the last horse ships out of the show, in this blog post!

9) Five Ingredients You Need for Your Horse’s Best Training Program

In every show season, there are certain events for which we want our horses to be at their absolute best. One of the most important skills a trainer or rider can have is knowing how to prepare a horse to peak at a certain competition, whether it be an important indoor show or a particular class.

Expecting our horses to perform their best means preparing them to the best of our abilities with the best possible training program for their needs. In this blog post, trainer and professional rider Caitlyn Shiels shares the five key ingredients that she uses in creating programs for her horses at True North Stables.

10) Does Your Horse Need Its Teeth Checked?

Proper dentistry is an integral aspect of optimal horse welfare. As an owner, trainer, rider, or barn manager it is very important to be aware of symptoms that indicate your horse is due for dental care.

The easiest way to know a horse is due for dental maintenance is to put a reminder into the horse’s BarnManager record for a dental exam every six months.

Horses’ teeth naturally erupt and develop sharp enamel points when they masticate. These points can abrade the tissues of the mouth and cause your horse discomfort. These points and malocclusions, or deviations from normal dental contact, can also affect the natural motion of the mandible when chewing or being ridden, particularly if the horse wears a tight noseband.

Continue reading here!

We hope that you found our 2019 blogs useful and informative, and we look forward to bringing you more content in 2020!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Liv’s Tips: Avoiding Frostbite on Your Horse

When tiny cells in your horse becomes so bitterly cold that ice begins to develop inside of them, it causes the expansion and rupture of the cells, which is what causes what we best know as frostbite!

Imagine this in a whole region of cells, like in your fingers or your horse’s ear.  These ruptured cells are now dead, which causes the area to have decreased blood flow and swelling and a whole mess of dead tissue. An important note here: this tissue will NOT grow back!

Major problems follow as the dead tissue can leak toxins into your horse and cause gangrene and massive infection, famous for being gross and black and generally dangerous.

Horses are typically susceptible to frostbite on their ears and their penises.  This is usually seen when a horse is sedated with certain types of drugs that relax the muscles that hold the penis in.  Then, the exposure sets in and you can only imagine…

A horse is at most risk in extreme cold, especially when there is no relief from the wind, or your horse is damp or wet.  A horse that is already compromised by being a hard keeper, or a horse without enough forage, or a horse with some medical issue going on is also at risk.  Some toxins found in plants and rancid feeds can cause vasoconstriction, which increases risk.

Fortunately, frostbite in horses is not extremely common and can be prevented by ensuring that your horse has shelter from the wind if it is turned out in extreme cold and that it is able to stay dry, to take in adequate calories, and to forage to generate normal body heat.

Want more from Liv Gude? Visit ProEquineGrooms.com! As a former international dressage groom for years, Liv Gude founded ProEquineGrooms.com as a way to unite grooms in the horse industry. The educational website also serves to entertain and inform horse owners across all disciplines about horse care, grooming, and health. Click here to check it out!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Liv’s Tips: Three Rules for Decorating the Barn at Holiday Time

It’s beginning to look a lot like…the time to decorate for the holidays! If your barn, or even just your horse’s stall, are on your list of areas to decorate this year, you may want to keep in mind these three rules from Live Gude of ProEquineGrooms.com!

1. Keep holiday decorations out of reach.

Garlands, ornaments, and lights will be utterly delicious and irresistible to some horses.  Arrange any holiday decorations away from the reach of every horse, even the least curious ones.  If you have a particularly clever horse that might use his powers of sorcery and contortion for evil and not good, skip decorating around that guy’s house. The trouble with garland and long stringed things is that they can easily create impactions if eaten.

Also think about the barn cats and dogs. Are they going to be tempted to grab some garland and zip down the barn aisle?

2. Don’t burn down the barn.

Sure, twinkly lights are the best!  However, overworked circuitry and extension cords increase fire risks.  If you absolutely, positively MUST have lights, make sure they are the LED version that won’t generate heat.

3. Don’t use poisonous decorations.

Holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia are all toxic.  Mistletoe and holly are definitely toxic to horses, dogs, and cats.  Poinsettia is mildly toxic.  You may want to stick to artificial varieties of these things.   Same goes for pine – while the real version is lovely, there is a lot of sap involved.

Happy decorating!

Want more from Liv Gude? Visit ProEquineGrooms.com! As a former international dressage groom for years, Liv Gude founded ProEquineGrooms.com as a way to unite grooms in the horse industry. The educational website also serves to entertain and inform horse owners across all disciplines about horse care, grooming, and health. Click here to check it out!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Four Ways to Prepare Your Barn for Winter

While many of our BarnManager users are in warmer climates (or escape to them for the winter!), most of us are bundling up in scarves, sipping on pumpkin spice lattes, and preparing for the impending cold weather.

As the temperatures drop and you dig your horse’s blankets out of storage, it’s time to solidify your plans for the coming months. Taking the proper preparation steps now can go a long way in avoiding last-minute scrambling. Whether winter in your region means snow or just rain, the next few months in North America usually brings some type of hassle for horse owners. Take the stress out of your pre-winter prepping by ensuring your horse property is as chore-efficient as possible – we’ve prepared the following check-list to get you started!

1) Order Hay and Bedding

Depending on where you live, hay is likely still plentiful in the fall. But as winter rolls around, it might not be so easy to fill your hay shed for the long, cold months ahead. Get in touch with your hay supplier well in advance to ensure that you have an adequate supply to get you through the season. Remember, you will probably be feeding more hay during the wintertime when grass is less abundant and the temperatures are lower, so it doesn’t hurt to plan for more bales than you think you might need. The last thing you want to do is run low and have to scramble to find another local source.

If you have the capability, try and store your hay in a separate shed nearby, rather than in your barn’s loft. This will greatly reduce the chance of a barn fire. And speaking of barn fires, make sure you have an up-to-date fire-safety plan—a quick online search will give you plenty of resources and checklists for this essential step. Consider hosting a meeting with everyone at your farm to go over the plan, too.

Whether you buy bulk or individually bagged bedding, make sure you’re stocked up there as well. Keep in mind that some bulk bedding suppliers might not have the same amount of product available in the wintertime, so don’t forget to get your order in early. Even if you do buy bedding in bulk, it’s not a bad idea to keep some bagged shavings on hand as a back-up for emergencies.

2) Check Everything is in Working Order

Autumn is a good time to knock out some barn chores you’ve been putting off—you’ll be glad you did when the first snow hits! Clean and mend gutters, fix leaky faucets, and check for loose boards and broken windows. Small structural problems can become magnified in severe weather, so a proactive approach to barn maintenance will save you much more trouble later.

Have an electrician do an inspection of the barn’s electric system to make sure it’s safe, up to code and doesn’t need updates. Similarly, get a plumber to check your barn’s plumbing to see that everything is in working order. Don’t forget about inspecting the outside spigots, automatic waterers (if you have them), and frost-free pumps. To keep your barn’s indoor pipes from freezing, consider detaching your hose, draining it, and storing it inside (preferably somewhere warm). Even though it’s an extra step to your daily routine, having functioning hoses and pipes is crucial.

If you live in a cold climate, you might invest in heated buckets for your barn and floating electric heaters for outdoor troughs. They’re not always cheap, but they will save you a lot of hassle—and can help your horses stay well-hydrated as well. And always make sure to carefully read the safety instructions on these types of products.

3) Solidify Your Snow Removal Plan

It’s essential that you have a plan to remove the snow from your driveway, so that a veterinarian, fire truck, ambulance or any other emergency vehicle can safely access your farm. Do you have a tractor or truck with a snow plow? Great! If not, you will need to line up a dependable contractor who will always be able to clear the snow for you, ensuring that someone is always able to get to the farm and take care of the horses, no matter how bad the weather is.

You will also need to be able to create safe walking paths to and around your barn and the paddocks. Don’t wait until the last minute (or before an impending blizzard) to stock up on essentials, like snow shovels and rock salt. You won’t be the only one making a mad dash to your nearest hardware store!

4) Strategize Best Ways for Manure Management

Manure management can be tricky during the wintertime, so make sure to have a few options available. If you use a manure spreader, you might not be able to spread if the snow is too deep or the conditions are treacherous. Likewise, if you have your manure removed regularly by an off-site company, it’s all the more reason to ensure that your driveway is safely cleared for them. Be sure to check in with them to see if their policies change during bad weather. You certainly don’t want to be stuck with an overflowing manure pit all winter!

By checking off each of these steps on your autumn to-do list, you’ll feel much more at ease when the first snowflakes fall, and you won’t be rushing to finish last-minute preparations. Best of luck!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!