There is always something that needs doing maintenance wise on a horse farm and it is wise to get it done sooner rather than later.
Broken fences, noxious weeds, nefarious critters causing damage, windy weather that wreaks havoc on the horse barn are common issues that require attention.
Here’s a few tips on what to put on the job checklist and complete now to avoid downtime for your horse and save you money and worry.
Down The Rabbit Hole
Nobody wants to experience the possible permanent injuries to their beloved horse that gopher and rabbit holes can exact or be faced with the consequential costly vet bills that come with twisted fetlocks, torn tendons, pulled suspensory ligaments or damaged stifles.
Taking the time to walk the pastures and property in early Spring before the grass gets too high makes it a lot easier to detect holes in the pasture than later in the growing season. Filling holes now can save much pain later.
Regions that experience freeze and thaw through extremes in temperatures during winter may cause pastures to become littered with rocks and stones that have migrated to the surface of the ground. As you are walking the pastures anyway, make the effort to pick up these troublemakers and save your horse the downtime needed to recover from stone bruises to the hoof and chipped hoof walls.
While perusing the pastures look for any for manmade litter that may have arrived from destinations unknown. Detritus from deflated helium balloons or paper lanterns, plastic bags and even tarpaulins may have arrived on scene and can cause life-changing events for your horse.
Keep an eagle eye out for dead vermin dropped from carrion carriers overhead and remove any possible botulism causing tiny carcasses that are located.
You may marvel at the burst of green that Mother Nature provides during Spring months but along with new growth can come noxious weeds that have silently seeded from the Fall season from elsewhere, carried along by the wind. Remove them completely by digging them out by the roots. Do not leave them to dry in the field, as some toxic plants are more likely to be ingested by a horse when they dead than when they are alive.
Stands of Burdock should be mown down or dug out as their burrs (prickly heads) may become attached to a horse’s mane and tail or worse cause serious damage to the eye of a horse that attempts to graze between the plants.
Check all electric fence lines for tall weeds and dead stems that may detract from the power of the fence line by grounding it out. It’s also prudent to walk the fence line and ensure that insulators are properly fitted, and that electric wire is not touching grounded objects such as fence posts.
Weeds that grow around the barn and landscaped areas, outdoor arenas and doorways should ideally be removed with a non-toxic spray or dug out by hand. Avoid use of poisonous and/or carcinogenic chemicals such as Round-Up.
Strimming can be an effective weed management tool too, but the operator of the strimmer should wear protective eyewear and ensure that no horses or humans are nearby. If you’ve ever found yourself grooming your horse in a stall when someone comes by outside wielding a strimmer against the exterior wall of the barn, you’ll appreciate how upsetting the vibration and pinging of gravel against the building can be to your horse. And don’t forget to keep vehicles, windows, and window screens out of range too.
Large shrubs and trees that overhang a pasture or a near a fence line should be pruned back to ensure they have not grown within reach of the inquisitive pastured horse. Clear any boughs or debris that has fallen from trees on and around the pasture. Horses are not deer and don’t benefit from chewing on bark and you don’t need them choking on sticks of wood they have found to play with to amuse themselves.
Trees should be pruned to ensure their falling leaves and seeds do not pose a hazard to either the grazing horse in the pasture or float atop the water tanks and troughs due to overhanging the pasture.
Never use rainwater collected off a roof for a horse’s water supply as it may be contaminated with toxic chemicals used in roofing materials.
Clean all water troughs regularly. Keeping the trough free of algae during warmer months may require more frequent cleaning than during other times of year. The addition of certain species of fish to a water trough or tank, such as goldfish, can help keep a stock tank free of not just algae, but also of mosquito larvae. There is also a myriad of additives that are marketed as safe to use in water troughs to keep algae at bay.
Fence and Gate Safety Check
There should be no need to explain that split fence boards and broken 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 than 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.
The Other Type Of Horsepower
Machinery only breaks when you are 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, water, air, fuel and oil filters, cabin filters, and follow the vehicles’ manuals guidelines. Service equipment regularly to keep it in good working order.
Out With The Old
Sweep out your hay storage areas and give the space time to air out before your new hay supply comes in to ensure no contamination of the new hay with the old.
Haystacks and hay storage areas are notorious areas 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.
After the winter security cameras and devices may have suffered repositioning due 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 the system is fully operational and doing its important job – especially during the summer season when you may be away from home showing horses or on vacation.
Fire extinguishers are not barn decorations and to function properly in an emergency they do need to be charged and checked. Take the time to refresh them and seek advice and recharging options from your local Fire Dept.
It’s a good plan to invite your local Fire Dept. to visit your farm and introduce their members to the horses and even teach them how to handle a horse. Many firefighters have no training in handling horses and are unaware how to respond to a horse trapped in a burning building except to open a door. Taking the time to teach a horse to accept a blindfold and a firefighter how to halter and lead a horse can be a lifesaver perhaps not for your animals but for someone else down the road.
Clean cobwebs, dust and other fire hazards from the barn and check all wiring for safety.
Your local Fire Dept. is also able to assist you in doing a fire check of your building though don’t expect them to break out a broom or start vacuuming.
Paint/Stain and Nail It Now Or Replace It Later
An inspection of your horse barn and run-in sheds may reveal popped nails, ripped shingle, disconnected gutters, or peeling paint.
If you take the time to make the necessary repairs now it will ultimately save you 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 now. 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.
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About Horizon Structures: One horse or twenty, there’s one thing all horse owners have in common…the need to provide safe and secure shelter for their equine partners. At Horizon Structures, we combine expert craftsmanship, top-of-the-line materials and smart “horse-friendly” design to create a full line of sheds and barns that any horse owner can feel confident is the right choice for their horses’ stabling needs.
All wood. Amish Made. Most of our buildings are shipped 100% pre-built and ready for same-day use. Larger barns are a modular construction and can be ready for your horses in less than a week. All our barn packages include everything you need –
Horizon Structures also sells chicken coops, equine hay feeders, greenhouses, dog kennels, 1 and 2 car garages, storage sheds and outdoor living structures and playsets.
Headquartered in South-Central Pennsylvania, Horizon Structures, LLC is owned by Dave Zook. Dave was raised in the Amish tradition and grew up working in the family-owned shed business. He started Horizon Structures in 2001 in response to an ever-increasing customer demand for high quality, affordable horse barns.
For additional information about the company or their product line, please visit their website at https://www.horizonstructures.com
Photos are available on request.
About Nikki Alvin-Smith:
Content Creator | PR Partner | Seasoned Writer | Brand Builder |
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Grand Prix Dressage
Please visit https://nikkialvinsmithstudio.com/ to learn more about her affordable services.