And Snow It Begins...
With the first snow of the season falling, it feels like a good time to share some of cold weather procedures around the ranch. This time of year comes with special challenges at the barn, and we greatly appreciate your help keeping everything running smoothly.
*Please keep the barn doors closed if it is cold outside. This includes the garage door into the arena. If we keep everything closed up, the barn rarely gets below 40 degrees. The horses are excellent heaters! There is a keypad for the garage door near the light switches in the indoor. The code is 2018 followed by the up/down arrows. You have to push the keys until they light up.
*If you use an outdoor hose or the hose in the hay barn, they must be disconnected and thoroughly drained, even if the current temperature is above freezing. Hoses left connected to the faucet will cause water lines to freeze and burst. If hoses aren't drained, we have to drag them into the bath tub in the apartment to thaw. As you can imagine, this is a huge hassle and makes a gigantic mess.
*Please do not open or close the doors on the arena. The doors are very heavy and hard to move. They often get stuck in the middle and can't be moved at all with out serious muscle (Thanks, Berry and Shawn!). In even a little wind, if the doors are not opened/closed all the way and properly latched, they act like giant kites and will rip off the side of the barn. PLEASE DO NOT OPEN OR CLOSE ARENA DOORS!
During cold weather, one of our biggest priorities is to keep all of the horses as warm as possible. If you choose to blanket your pasture horse, we ask that you please use waterproof turnout blankets. Just keep in mind blanket weight. As cold as it feels today, remember it's likely to get much colder in a couple of months. Your heaviest-weight blanket is probably overkill right now. Stalled horses rarely need blankets in the barn. The current outside temperature is 33 degrees, but the barn is over 50. Horses in heavy stable blankets overnight are often sweaty by morning.
Please discuss your blanketing preferences with WBR. If you would like for us to blanket, it is $25 a month. Also, we have a strict no-tolerance policy for bad ground manners during blanketing. If your horse requires more than one person to get a blanket on, won't put their head down for pull-over blankets, or kicks or threatens to kick, we will not do any blanketing.
Turnout during winter months can be tricky. We try to get horses out as much as possible, but they will obviously stay in if there is rain, snow, sleet, etc. If the temperature is extremely cold, we will also leave them in. I don't have a specific temperature cutoff because wind, humidity, cloud cover, etc. can make such a difference. As a general rule, if it hurts to walk outside, I don't turnout.
An important part of keeping horses warm is keeping them fed. We maintain our regular graining schedule during winter months, but increase hay feedings as necessary. During cold months, we hay morning, lunch and dinner like normal and add a late hay ration when we close up the barn at night. We try to keep hay in front of horses as much as possible.
On a side note, we greatly appreciate you NOT feeding extra hay or grain outside of our normal routine. I promise you cannot be sneaky enough to get feed to just your horse without other horses finding out. If they see someone getting fed and they are left out, we have certain horses in the barn that will throw a temper tantrum and kick walls until they hurt themselves (LAYLA, I'm looking at you!). Similarly, if you feed your horse its dinner early, they are pretty upset when I feed the rest of the barn at the normal time and skip them. Please help us keep the peace by not feeding outside the normal schedule.
MISC WINTER NOTES
* All of our pastures are on automatic waters that rarely freeze. In the past, we've only had problems with them when we've had temperatures well below zero. We check them daily, and if they are freezing, we will have stock tanks set up outside.
* Please do not unplug extension cords. They may be connected to tank heaters, engine heaters, etc.
* We park the red tractor in the main barn at night so that it will start and the PTO will turn. It's almost an antique and doesn't cooperate in the extreme cold.
* We keep all stock tanks low in the winter so that we can keep the ice clear. Please do not fill them above half.