Organizing and Spring Cleaning Your Barn During COVID-19

Each year about this time, we like to share a new barn spring cleaning blog post. This year though, things are a bit different, and the checklist of tasks that we typically recommend may not be entirely advisable.

Cleaning out your old riding clothes and taking them to your local tack shop to consign? Not an option during stay at home orders surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Getting your horses’ annual Coggins test or having their teeth checked? If it’s not an emergency, it may be best to wait another month or two.

However, with many of us finding ourselves with a bit more time on our hands as we stay safe at home and at our barns, there’s perhaps no better time for getting organized and doing some deep cleaning.

Here are our suggestions and ideas for maximizing this time and handling this year’s barn spring cleaning!

In the Barn  

If you own or manage your farm, live onsite, or are still able to safely visit while practicing social distancing, here are a few tasks to tackle.

– Scrub and disinfect all surfaces, particularly those that are frequently touched. – Now is the time to continually sanitize and clean common surfaces such as stall doors, doorknobs, light switches, sink faucets, gates, and crossties.

– Clean out gutters and downspouts. – Clear out any leaves or build-up that may have accumulated over the fall and winter months.

– Clean your fans and check the wiring. – If you live in a cooler climate, your fans have likely been packed away for the winter. Now is a good time to get them out of storage, clean them, and ensure that all is in working order. ProEquineGrooms suggests using a leave blower to blow any dust and debris out of the fan.

– Inspect your pastures. – Walk the perimeter of all pastures to check the fencing and locate any weak or broken spots. Thoroughly clean any run-in sheds, and walk your fields and fill in any holes.

– Send blankets out for cleaning and repair.By the end of the winter, it’s likely that your horse’s sheets and blankets are in need of a deep cleaning! There are many services available that allow you to ship your blankets to them for repair, and some local services, like Horse Duds & Suds in New Jersey, offer free pickup and delivery from your farm (while maintaining safe distancing!). If you’d rather clean or fix minor repairs yourself, check out this blanket care kit from Schneiders.

– Thoroughly clean your tack. – When was the last time you took your bridle completely apart? Or scrubbed your stirrup irons with a toothbrush? Now is the time to give everything a really thorough cleaning and conditioning.

– Scrub your brushes. – As with your tack, now is the time to really scrub your brushes, and, if you haven’t already, to make it a habit of cleaning them routinely. We shared steps and tips for cleaning brushes here.

– Check your horses’ medicine cabinets and restock your vet kits. – Go through any medicines and ensure that none of them are expired, and, if they are looking into getting them replaced or refilled if needed. Review your horses’ first aid kit (that you hopefully have on hand!) and make sure it’s well-stocked and any previously used items have been replenished. Not sure what should be included in your first aid kit? Here are a few of our suggestions.

While You’re at Home

– Go through your closet. – By cleaning out and organizing your riding clothes, you could turn your breeches that no longer fit (because they’re too big, and you lost weight, obviously! 😉), into cash toward a new pair. While supporting your local consignment tack shop isn’t presently an option, there are lots of ways to sell your used riding apparel online, like the Grazers app.

– Eliminate paper clutter and organize your horses’ records. – If you currently store your horses’ medical records, farrier invoices, and barn paperwork in binders, folders, or in a giant stack on your desk, now is a great time to consider consolidating them and going digital! With BarnManager, you can snap photos of your records to easily add them to each horse’s profile, and you can sync each profile to the horse’s US Equestrian records to easily pull in other data. Setup a live demo meeting to see how it works, here.

– Order those horse show photos you’ve been meaning to hang in your house. This is also a great way to support equine photographers during this time. Check out a few other suggested ways to support fellow equestrians throughout COVID-19 here.

– Make your own horse treats. – This may not help with cleaning or organizing, but it will win you brownie points with your horse and provide you with a fun activity for the time at home! Check out a few of our treat recipe ideas 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!

Five Ways to Support Your Fellow Equestrians During COVID-19

From competitions being canceled further into the spring to many boarding barns now closing their doors to customers, the non-health-related effects of the global coronavirus pandemic continue to increase.

For many within our equestrian industry, that means the loss of their livelihood, and for almost all of us, it means significant changes to our daily lives and less time spent in the saddle or enjoying our horses. While it’s important to remain physically distant from one another, now is a time to figuratively come together as a community.

Here are just five ways that you can support your fellow equestrians during this time.

1. Make purchases from equestrian professionals. – Your trainer has likely had to limit or entirely cancel teaching lessons or clinics; your favorite horse show photographer no longer has spring events to shoot, and your braider is temporarily out of a job (and that’s to name just three of the many types of equestrian professionals directly impacted by COVID-19). 

If you are financially able, now is a great time to pre-purchase training or lesson packages or gift certificates to gift a friend or family member with riding lessons. If your trainer or other professionals offer digital seminars, take advantage of them as you’re able. This not only supports their businesses, but it allows you to continue to learn and grow during this down time.

Have you been considering ordering prints or a large canvas of your favorite show photos? Now is the perfect time to place that order and support horse show photographers!

2. Give what you can to help those in need. – The cancellation of horse shows means a lack of work for the support staff that make them possible: the ring crew, grooms, ingate guys, stewards, judges, security, office staff, and more. We know many reading this likely have been financially affected by COVID-19 as well, but for those who are able, giving what you can to those out of work can go a long way. Check out the Show Jumping Relief Fund for one way to give.

3. Be understanding that many may struggle to afford their horses during this time – and don’t be afraid to seek help if you are among them. – Many people are struggling to figure out how to cover their own living expenses, let alone those of their horses.

4. Check in on each other and encourage group “hang outs.”   – The current circumstances can be stressful, and the reduced social interaction can be tough for anyone’s mental health. Check in on your friends and barn mates and come up with new ways to “get together.” Try group FaceTime calls or perhaps pick a horse book (fiction or non-fiction) and start your own virtual book club. Need some motivation and encouragement to workout? Why not do video workouts together virtually with your barn mates?

5. Stay home.  – One of the most important things that you can do for the benefit of not only the equestrian community, but the country as a whole, is to adhere to the advised social distancing guidelines. The sooner we can stop the spread of COVID-19, the sooner we can return to the horses that we love!

Wishing everyone health and safety during this time!

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!

Handling Social Distancing and Horses: How Equestrians Can Safely Make the Most of It

This time of social distancing and quarantine can feel scary, confusing, and strange – but it’s also important to adhere to these measures in order to keep yourself and those that you love and care about safe and healthy.

By self-quarantining, we are able to help protect ourselves and others from the coronavirus, and it allows us to help “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 cases. However, self-quarantining can also lead to a far lesser problem: boredom. And a serious one for many equestrians facing cancelled shows, events, and lessons: financial loss.

In order to help combat both of these, we’ve compiled a list of five ways to help you safely make the most of this time.

1. Spend quality time with your horse(s). – If you keep your horse at home or if your boarding facility is still allowing visitors, take advantage of the extra time to ride, get outside in the sunshine, love on, groom, and care for your horse.

There is currently no evidence that horses can spread or contract CO-VID19, which Palm Beach Equine Clinic explains further in this blog post.

2. Implement new cleaning and social distancing protocols at the barn in order to allow operations to safely continue. – While we do advise spending as much time with your horse as possible during this time, we also recommend only doing it safely. Now isn’t the time to organize a trail ride with 10 of your barn friends or to plan a clinic since your spring horse show was cancelled. Instead, whether you’re a barn owner, boarder, or lesson student, it’s important to implement or follow some important new protocols.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Adhere to the CDC’s recommended six to nine feet of social distancing between you and others. That means limiting riding close together and not stopping to chat closely in the tack room or barn aisle. For barn owners or trainers continuing to provide lessons, Tara Swersie from Event Clinics recommends scheduling 15-minute blocks between lessons to help limit the number of people present at any time.
  • Along the same vein, group lessons should be limited to no more than four people – and possibly fewer depending on the size of the ring.
  • Clean and sanitize! Wherever you can, try to greatly reduce the number of shared items or surfaces such as whiteboard markers, pitchforks, and brooms. For places where it’s more difficult to reduce common contact, such as door knobs, crossties, light switches, or stall doors, incorporate frequent sanitization of these surfaces into your daily routine.

3. Try a new workout. – While going to the public gym isn’t advised (and currently in most areas isn’t allowed), there’s no reason not to work on your fitness during this time. Many fitness trainers and programs are currently offering free or greatly discounted online workouts, and YouTube workouts – like this Yoga For Equestrians routine with Yoga With Adriene – are always a great option.

If yoga is your thing (or if you’d like to try to make it your thing during self-quarantine), Yoga With Adriene has a great, free 30-day program, and CorePower is offering free yoga on demand.

If yoga isn’t your thing, Les Mills is also offering a 30-day free trial of all workouts on demand, like the program’s popular Body Pump class.

Here are a few easy-to-try-at-home CrossFit workout ideas, and the Fit Equestrian has programs specifically tailored to riders available for purchase here. The US Equestrian Learning Center even has a few workout videos!

4. Expand your equestrian knowledge. – While you may not be horse showing or riding with friends for a bit, now is a great time to expand your equestrian knowledge. Check out USEF Network to watch clinics and learn from experts for free, and go to the US Equestrian Learning Center for topics covering everything from horse care and breeding to riding a winning jump-off with Laura Kraut.

Order a new equestrian book to learn more about the sport, like the USET Foundation’s Riding for the Team, or about horsemanship and riding, like Anne Kursinski’s Riding and Jumping Clinic or Helen Crabtree’s Saddle Seat Equitation. Check out this great reading list, compiled by eventer Jim Wofford.

5. Tackle tasks that you’ve been avoiding. – Been putting off cleaning out that storage area or sorting through your old tack? Or maybe you have old show clothes to list for sale online? Now is the time to tackle these projects! For more ideas of these sorts of tasks and things to do during quarantine, check out My Equestrian Style’s list here.

Stay safe!

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!