Even though it doesn’t quite seem like it here in NJ, winter is right around the corner! The first day of autumn was only last week, but I’ll be sure to take my time enjoying the weather before the seasons change again. In the meantime, we can always work on preparing for the colder months. Maybe they’ll come sooner for you if you live north of me!
Let’s first talk about your horse’s pasture. If they are outside full-time, they should always have some kind of shelter. Ideally, it will have three walls and a full roof to protect from a variety of wintery conditions. Take some time to evaluate the shelter for any damage. Look for areas where the support isn’t holding up as well, holes in the roof or walls, or areas where water and mud are pooling. Fixing a small problem now will be much easier than trying to solve a bigger one later! Ensuring the structure is sturdy will make sure your horse is well protected from the harsh weather and reduce the chances of them getting hurt on something broken. You can do the same thing around the rest of your pasture. Looking for fencing or gates that need some extra care can prevent a much larger issue later.
Tip: your shelter should be big enough to fit all the horses living in the pasture!
Next, let’s think about indoors. You can do something just like what you did outside in your pasture. Check around your barn for any structural issues that could be damaged further by weather. Take the time to evaluate the heating and ventilation systems to make sure they are ready for use later. This is also a good opportunity to service your equipment and tack. Depending on the work you do with your horse, you might need to think about switching out warm-weather gear for winter-weather gear.
Finally, what about your horse themselves? They need some prep too! Well, a lot of it will be done closer to when the weather starts to cool down, but we can always talk about it now. One important thing to do is start monitoring your horse’s body condition. Heavy hair coats on your horse can hide changes in weight, so make sure you’re checking routinely and thoroughly. This is especially important if you know your horse has trouble keeping weight on during the winter, or if they have certain health conditions.
Hope you all learned something today! There’s always some way you can stay “one hoof ahead” of the winter weather.
Until next time.