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What is your biggest Winter horse care challenge?

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  • What is your biggest Winter horse care challenge?

    Well, i've got the winter blues....so while I am sitting here feelling sorry for myself for not moving to Florida YEARS ago, i got to thinking about COTH members and the varied locations they come from, especially the Canadian members.....and I couldn't help wondering ....

    What is your biggest challenge when it comes to horse care in the winter? And how do you combat it?

    What is the coldest winter temperature where you live?

    Here, the temps rarely go below zero....i cannot imagine how those of you that live in a climate that does go below zero manage.....like, if you don't have heated buckets, how do you keep them from freezing within minutes?

    as for challanges/concerns;
    Ours is twofold. Our biggest challenge/concern is that the horses live on the top of a mountain, and there is alot of icing that goes on each winter. Rain they can handle, snow they can handle.....ice.....NOT! Last winter there were alot of ice storms and sometimes the horses were stall bound for two days straight...it drove them crazy. However, with the paddocks, hills and pastures all a sheet of solid ice, what else were we to do? Anyone with any tips on dealing with ice....i'd be glad to hear it.

    Secondly, another problem is the vicious winds....they can be quite nasty up there at such a high altitude, and they roar and whistle for hours and hours sometimes. during one vicious wind event, we saw a chicken walking sideways...rather being pushed sideways by the wind....but it looked like she was walking that way...

    Kudos to those of you who live in bitterly cold winter climates. I am not made of such strong stuff...I am a weather wimp, like my OTTB....we are hothouse flowers

  • #2
    Where I live, it never gets below 30. Ever. I think my biggest challenge is adjusting to the frequent temperature changes (where I live it will be 80 one day and 50 the next). You think your going to clip the horses because they are miserable in the heat, but the next day it is 50 degrees in the daytime and 38 at night! It is soooooooo weird.....


    • Original Poster

      U r making me jealous...

      I seriously need to move down south. I can't take the cold like I used to .... and I dread going to the farm each evening and freezing my toes off. Wool socks don't even help.


      • #4
        My only real problem is a frozen water trough. We're normally 45/30 for temps, so it's not a big enough issue to come up with a complicated or expensive solution, but on the odd says we stay below freezing, it stinks. I'm in east TN.


        • #5
          Besides the fact that we got about 3 feet of snow in the last 2 days? Or that the temps have been flirting with -16F including the wind which was strong enough to rip the big heavy lid off my insulated water tank?

          This was just my first week having the horses home; I'll get back to you on the rest

          Our coldest days are around -25F or so.

          I have a heater for my water tank but I can't find it right now. The best I can do for water is to haul hot water from the house to dump in the tank. My husband built an insulated box with a lid (hole just big enough for horses to drink from) which keeps the water from freezing solid. When I go out in the morning/evening, I break whatever ice is there, scoop out the chunks of ice with a net thing I made, then add more hot water.

          The cold is not so bad but I hate the wind. As long as the horses have a shelter of some kind, they will be fine.

          Ice sucks, especially on a hill. I have fenced off the hill for the winter to keep the horses from going up & down it. No suggestions there
          Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**


          • #6
            Our winter weather varies ALOT. It can be 5 degrees, blowing snow and 40 mph winds and then 3 days later be hitting almost 50 lol. The entire winter long. Making sure everyone is comfortable with such a variance can be a little tough. We've got some that are blanketed, some that aren't and are fine and some that should be but aren't. (We have boarders). As long as we have electric- we have heated auto waterers outside, run ins and free choice hay- that takes care of most of any issues.


            • #7
              The biggest trouble is every year is different and having to be prepare for all manner of nasty.

              Last year it was fighting the deep wet snow that wanted to fall feet at a time and not just inches. This year we were in mud up until a couple wks ago. Snow fell before the ground surface froze. What a mess getting the tractor out. What snow we have gotten has come with very high winds (but what else is new) and blows into every possible slightest opening.

              We have not gone below zero F yet. Maybe we will at least get lucky there this year. But warmer winters generally wheel an ice storm or 2. That is its own special brand of headache. We installed a hand pump years back and yes we have had to use it. The longest we had gone without power is just over a week. Cattle and horses drink up to 500gal a day. Fun...endless winter fun....right?!?!?


              • #8
                Well, besides the fact that this winter has been freakishly warm, my winter weary is making wet hay...ugh.

                I board at a two stall, two pasture place, in the BO's back yard. It's my mare, and my pony. I don't have a farm spigot, so I have to use the one coming from the house. Anything even close to being freezing temps and it's frozen solid. So, I have to take my two 5 gallon flatback buckets in the BO's house, and fill up in the bathtub!!!

                It is 4 trips with the two buckets to fill up the trashcan for the wet hay, 3 trips for the bigger water bucket, and 1 trip for the smaller water bucket. And I have to make wet hay twice a day.

                Good thing the BO is a bit loony, and doesn't mind! Lol.
                "On the back of a horse I felt whole, complete, connected to that vital place in the center of me...and the chaos within me found balance."


                • Original Poster

                  I just cannot imagine doing the barn/horse chores in minus zero temps! what do you all do, cover yourselves in wool??

                  For those of you who live in warmer climates, please do not reply to this thread! I am trying to make myself feel better ...not worse.... Just kidding, you all can rub it in if you want to....

                  Good Lord, Ainsley!! all that water carrying....you probably have arms that look like you workout at the gym every day......

                  snow is coming, more nasty cold and wind....


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Mah Navu View Post
                    I just cannot imagine doing the barn/horse chores in minus zero temps! what do you all do, cover yourselves in wool??
                    When you are on the move and inside the barn it really is not all that bad. Outside and setting on the tractor to put out bales or plow snow....boy is that a really special sort of fun. I get out my military issue "mushroom" hat that covers everything but my eyes. I add military issue artic work mitten/sleeves which have leather huge leather mitten covers and fabric sleeves up to my armpits. These fit over the usual cold weather gear.

                    So I look like a poorly coordinated version of the Michelen man.....but the livestock do not care what I look like. They only care if they are being fed on time.


                    • #11
                      Keeping my fingers from freezing! The need to invent little hot packs with finger extensions.
                      Graphic Design & Websites


                      • #12
                        i find these threads kind of funny becuase i always wonder how does anyone handle living in a hot climate?
                        i dont mind the cold, horse dont either but in the summer the heat, i hate it so do the horses, they thrive in winter. i dont know how anyone can live in the south LOL i cant stand heat and bugs.


                        • #13
                          I live in the Mid-Atlantic so it does not get too cold here. One of my horses does not drink nearly as much water in winter so I struggle to keep him hydrated, giving him beet pulp often and watching his water intake. My barn is also very cold (an old bank barn) so on the days that the temps really drop, I heat their water buckets, bundle them up, and give them lots of extra hay.

                          It could be a lot worse. I don't know how the Canadians survive the winter without an indoor and/or heated barn.


                          • Original Poster

                            Fraggle, I'll take the heat over the bitter cold any day of the week!! Though I do feel guilty when summer comes and the temps rise and the flies appear....i just put on bug spray, and soak up the sun and warmth...but the horses suffer terribly. especially our gray....the bugs drive him insane. And our big drafty girl can't take the heat..... so i feel bad for being so selfishly happy while my poor horses suffer!!!

                            Though the guilt is eased by the fact that the barn owners bought them a huge 60 inch barn fan which they LOVE.

                            I think what i hate the most about winter isn't the feet aching from the cold or the stabbing pains in the fingers or the six layers of clothing....or even the Rudolph red nose syndrome, what i hate the most is the lack of time we actually get to spend WITH the horses....our time is spent mucking, feeding, watering...then we get the heck out of there before we freeze to death. Luckily, the tack room and bathroom are heated, so when the cold is unbearable and the feet hurt, we go in there and sit for a while to thaw out, then it's back out to the stable area...and the cold. But the riding/quality time spent with the horses is nonexistant....


                            • #15
                              Our winters are pretty wet and are mostly above freezing during the days. You can forget about turning horses out in a dry field from November thru March.

                              -Temperature swings:
                              Daytime temps in the 40s and 50s/Nighttime temps in the 20s or lower is average for most of the winter here. It can make blanketing a real pain.

                              -The inability to deal when the temperatures don't go above freezing:
                              Every year we get a week or two where the daytime temps don't leave the low 30s, and the plumbing around here just can't handle it. Hydrants, hoses, and troughs freeze, pipes burst, yada yada yada. It happens every winter, but for some reason it always catches everyone by surprise and panic ensues.
                              Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


                              • #16
                                Getting the poop TO the manure pile. I don't want it that close to the barn, but hauling it over deep snow is a PITA. Especially when DH forgets to plow a road for this purpose.

                                Other than that, I have some extra chores when it is really bad (most of the time they live outside, but on frigid nights I let them sleep in their fluffy warm dry stalls).

                                In an earlier time I would have said water. Busting ice, heating water in the house to take out, worrying about intake. No more, with a water tank heater in each field and heated water buckets. Those are ESSENTIAL.


                                • #17
                                  We are having a deep freeze here in Alberta. Our area had winter warnings of -40c to -50c with the wind chill. Yeah it's cold. All we can do it give them lots of straw for deep bedding, all the hay they want and I give my critters extra feed. The cold snaps usually don't last more then a week, then it's just the normal -10c to -20c ...


                                  • #18
                                    Although one province east, deckchick saw fit to share her 50 below wintchills with me. The real blessing this year is lack of whitecrap so far, so getting water to the barn is pretty easy although a damned cold job. Wallkicker hasn't been out since last Saturday because of the wind and it is considerably warmer in the barn. By contrast, last winter, i had to plow a path to the barn almost every day and this year only started the tractor to move bales around one day. Weather liar says warmer tomorrow and Sunday. WOOOOOHOOOOOOO He can go out again
                                    Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

                                    Member: Incredible Invisbles


                                    • #19
                                      Here in NE

                                      It gets very cold here and last year we had snow that never melted, this year has been relatively snow-free (so far ?) We also have lots of wind. I can't imagine NOT having heated auto waterers. . . I would have to say that's the single biggest help in the winter. We have 3, and do spend some time every year with one freezing, but it's rare. Yes, they are more expensive initially, but sure do pay for themselves over time. Our horses all live outside with good run-in sheds (room for every horse to get inside), the waterers and round bale feeders. We feed a comibation of round bales and squares. We put both in the feeders so the wind doesn't blow it away. The only time I bring them in the barn is when it's snowing and blowing - blizzard conditions, otherwise they're better off outside. My husband and I both work, but take turns going out twice a day to feed and check on them. You just learn to wear lots of layers, and I'm usually back in the house in less than 20 minutes. I beleive having horses outside, with shelter, waterers and good hay feeders makes all the difference - if it's too much labor you won't last in heat or cold.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by sk_pacer View Post
                                        Although one province east, deckchick saw fit to share her 50 below wintchills with me. The real blessing this year is lack of whitecrap so far, so getting water to the barn is pretty easy although a damned cold job. Wallkicker hasn't been out since last Saturday because of the wind and it is considerably warmer in the barn. By contrast, last winter, i had to plow a path to the barn almost every day and this year only started the tractor to move bales around one day. Weather liar says warmer tomorrow and Sunday. WOOOOOHOOOOOOO He can go out again
                                        LOL, there is a rumor going around that it will warm up this weekend.

                                        I did chuckle at the way the weather warning was written, it said "Cold Arctic air has invaded Alberta" we were invaded alright....

                                        No real snow here yet either pacer, last winter was a doozy wasn't it?