Winterize the "Green" Way

Horseback riding isn't the only thing you need to do this winter! Check out the top 10 environmentally friendly winterization tips for your barn.

From Laurie Cerny for Green Horsekeeping Guide

“Taking care of what you have as a horse owner goes a long way toward being green,” says Laurie Cerny, editor and publisher of Green Horsekeeping Guide.  “Anytime you have to replace something, either from damage done by a horse or because of negligent maintenance, it not only costs you money, it also costs the environment.”

Here are the top 10 "green" tasks horse owners should do before winter:

1. Winterize the barn. This means repairing or replacing broken windows and doors, and making sure that they close completely to keep out cold air and drafts. If you have a bathroom and/or heated wash rack, wrap the water heater with an insulated blanket.  Hot water pipes can also be wrapped to help save energy. Refill under stall mats where needed, or haul in fill in stalls without mats. Remove anything that’s not used during the winter like fans (blow off fan and motor with an air compressor), and any liquids (fly spray, hoof black, fence paint, etc.) that might freeze in an unheated barn.

2. Harrow pastures or use a pitchfork and break up manure piles.

3. Spread manure and compost on hay fields and pastures that are resting for the winter.

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4. Drain hoses and roll them up and store them indoors.  Unused water tanks should be drained and cleaned with dish soap or a bleach mixture - then turn them upside down if left outside. A run-in shed or a horse trailer that isn’t going to be used during the winter is another good place to store water tanks.

5. Give your show tack a good cleaning and bring it indoors for the winter. This will protect it from the damaging effects of extreme temperatures, as well as prevent potential damage from mice and other critters and insects that might over winter in your barn.

6. Wash fly sheets, fly masks, stable sheets and unused halters. Repair any tears in blankets, masks and leg wraps. Then store them in a sealed container like a tote.

7. Clean out horse trailers after their last use. If you don’t plan on using the trailer over the winter, either store it inside, or tarp it - making sure to cover the tires.  Empty perishable items from the trailer's tack compartment, dressing room and living quarters. Remove anything that could get damaged if the roof or windows leak. Put a couple of handfuls of mothballs inside to help repel mice and other pests.

The American Quarter Horse Journal has brought its readers the greatest events, introduced them to legendary horses and people, and provided tips on riding, training, management and health. Is your subscription up to date?

8. Make sure that fences are in good repair, including working electric. Replace rotted boards and posts. You definitely don’t want to be digging postholes in the frozen ground.

9. Paint gates. Gates seem to rust quickly in seam areas, as well as areas damaged by use and by horses.  Use either sandpaper or a wire brush to remove rust, then follow up with a coat of primer and a rust-deterring paint.

10. Stock up on staples: Filling the barn with hay for winter goes without saying, however, stocking up on bedding, stall freshener products, salt blocks and dewormer helps to eliminate unnecessary trips to the store.