As summer wraps up and we head into fall, it’s time to pull together your fall barn chore checklist. Stable management becomes even more challenging in the winter when you’re facing ice, snow, and below-freezing temperatures. Luckily, if you tackle some preparation steps right now, you can get your barn ready for winter and make your winter chores easier, too.
Top Stable Management Barn Chores to Do This Fall
In addition to your daily barn chores, be sure to add these items to your to-do list this fall to get a jump on winter.
Check Your Blankets
You don’t want to discover that your horse blankets need to be re-waterproofed during the first big storm of the season, so now is the time to pull all of your blankets out and check them over. Wash any blankets that you didn’t get around to washing in the spring, and check over all of your blankets for any needed repairs. Hang your blankets over a fence and spray each one with a hose to make sure they’re still waterproof.
This is also the time to take a general inventory of your blankets and make sure you have what you need. If you have young, growing horses, check to see that your blankets still fit them. If you need new blankets, keep an eye out for sales at your favorite tack store – blanket sales and specials are already starting, so you may be able to find a good deal. Some stores are also clearing out the remnants of last year’s blankets, so check their clearance pages frequently.
On a crisp fall day, take advantage of the nice weather and walk your pastures. As you walk all along the perimeters, check your fences and gates for safety and functionality. The fall is the perfect time to repair fencing, since there aren’t pesky bugs to deal with, and the ground is still soft enough to dig if you need to replace fence posts.
There’s another critical reason to head out to your pastures, though. With the change of seasons, leaves fall off nearby trees and end up in your pastures. Certain types of leaves, like Red Maple leaves, can be toxic to horses when consumed larger numbers. Oak leaves and acorns are also toxic if your horse eats too many of them. Take a field guide out with you and look for these toxic leaves and trees. If you find them, remove your horses from the pasture or rake the leaves out of the pasture daily.
Evaluate Your Hay Supply
Before winter arrives, do a quick hay count to make sure you have enough hay to last you through the winter. Many hay suppliers are selling through their inventory, so if you need to order or reserve hay, do it now so that you aren’t scrambling to find a new supplier during the winter.
Address Drainage Issues
Drainage issues become even worse when you’re dealing with melting snow and ice. Wait for a heavy rain, then walk your property to look for drainage problems, like runoff that’s headed to your barn’s foundation or muddy areas in your paddocks.
Before the ground freezes, take some time to address those drainage issues. Installing or cleaning gutters and downspouts can help you keep water out of your paddocks and away from your buildings. Rerouting water with open drainage features and/or installing Lighthoof panels to stabilize the ground in areas of high hoof-traffic are just some techniques that can help to solve water and mud problems. When winter hits, you’ll be glad you took the time to fix those drainage issues!
Maintain Your Horse Farm Equipment
Don’t forget to give your farm equipment a tune-up. A working tractor, plow, and farm truck will make your winter barn chores much easier and more efficient, too. This fall, do those oil changes, install new brakes, and fix that leaky tire so you don’t have to worry about those things failing this winter.
Looking Forward to Winter Barn Management
The more preparation work you can do now, the easier your transition to winter barn management will be. The above chores can help to keep your horses safe and healthy, and make your property more enjoyable for you. Which of these chores will you be adding to your list?