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December 5, 2022

Maintenance Tips Around the Horse Farm

Use Colorado’s Sunny Winter Days to Maintain Your Place

There’s always something that needs doing, maintenance-wise, on a horse farm, and it’s wise to get it done sooner rather than later. Broken fences, noxious weeds, nefarious critters causing damage, and windy weather that wreaks havoc on the horse barn are common issues that require attention. Here are a few tips to help you put together your barn-job checklist and complete now to avoid downtime for your horse and save you money and worry.

On fair-weather days that might not have ground safe for riding, make your way to the barn to conduct repairs and identify what you’ll need to fix come spring. Photo Courtesy of www.Horizon Structures.com

Down the Rabbit Hole

Gopher and rabbit holes can cause costly vet bills due to twisted fetlocks, torn tendons, pulled suspensory ligaments, or damaged stifles. Take the time to walk pastures and property in late winter and early spring before the grass gets too high to easily detect holes in the pasture.

Colorado experiences freezing and thawing all winter, which may cause pastures to become littered with rocks and stones that surface from underground. Pick up these rocks to save your horse the downtime needed to recover from stone bruises to the hoof and chipped hoof walls.

Also look for any for manmade litter that blows onto your property and keep an eagle eye out for dead vermin and remove any possible botulism-causing tiny carcasses.

Fence and Gate Safety Check

There should be no need to explain that split fence boards, downed wire fences, and gates that close with huge gaps between the post and the gate are recipes for disaster when it comes to a horse sustaining a major injury. A clean, tidy fence line not only looks good, but it also works better. Even if a horse doesn’t impale himself on a leaning post, damage an eye on a splintered board when trying to graze grass through a huge gap underneath, or trap himself in a gateway, a poor fence invites your horse Houdini to escape. And that won’t end well either.

Regular checks and repairs of gates and fences save lives. If you have ever seen a horse with a lacerated tendon shredded from rolling near a low- hanging fence wire or from the horse kicking through a metal sided run-in shed, you know that prevention from injury is much better—and less costly—than the cure. Horses may be large animals, but their legs are fragile, and their eyes are often subject to injury when rubbing against objects to mitigate flies and pesky bugs during warm weather.

Other Types of Horsepower

Machinery only breaks when you’re using it! So of course, it always happens when you need it. The best way to limit the annoyance, inconvenience, and likely expense of repairs to equipment is to keep it well-serviced.

Aside from the safety concerns of a tractor with no operational hand brake or mowers missing blade guards, the machine engine and its adjunct components requires care and attention to operate efficiently when needed. Check the oil, tires, water, battery, hydraulic fluid, and all the filters—water, air, fuel, oil, and cabin. Follow the vehicle’s manuals guidelines, and service equipment regularly to keep it in good working order.

Out With the Old

Sweep out your hay storage areas and allow time for it to air out before your new hay supply arrives to prevent contamination of the new hay with the old. Haystacks and hay storage areas are notorious for vermin to nest and live, and old hay will dust over time with the breakdown of seeds and stems.

Use the opportunity to check the storage area for any water intrusion from outside the building, either to the floor from under exterior walls or from a leaky roof, and fix any issues found. Hay and water don’t mix. Buy good hay, and keep it that way.

Security Check

Security cameras and devices can be repositioned during winter, thanks to high winds or snow/ice damage. A quick check for both position and cleaning of the camera lens and wire check for damage from nibbling by rodents or wind will help ensure that the system is fully operational and doing its job.

Fix It Now or Replace It Later

An inspection of your horse barn and run-in sheds might reveal popped nails, ripped shingles, disconnected gutters, or peeling paint. If you take the time to make the necessary repairs as you identify them, you’ll save time and money later. A fresh coat of paint or stain not only lifts the appearance of a building, it also protects it from the damaging effects of inclement weather.

If you locate any area of water intrusion into a building, be it through a roof, siding seam, or under doors or floors fix it immediately. Water is a silent but effective agent at causing damage to structures, and its invasion to any interior surface of a structure should be viewed as a serious situation that requires prompt remedy.

About Nikki Alvin-Smith

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See this article in the November/December 2022 online edition:

November/December 2022

Nikki Alvin-Smith
Nikki Alvin-Smith is a seasoned freelance writer who loves to share her lifelong experience with everything horse, farm and travel. Her work has been printed in more than two hundred fifty equestrian magazines worldwide and her published articles number in the thousands including travel and lifestyle press. A Brit who has called New York home for more than 37 years, Nikki brings a unique perspective to her writing. Her experience as an international level Grand Prix dressage competitor, coach and worldwide clinician, with a youth spent showjumping and foxhunting, provides lots of educational truths and fun moments to share with the reader. Additionally, she has been a horse breeder and importer of Hanoverian, Dutch and Iberian horses for more than 25 years. Visit nikkialvinsmithstudio.com to learn more.

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