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Heated Barn experiences ???

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  • Heated Barn experiences ???

    I am considering moving my horse to a barn that is heated during the winter. Owner says she heats the barn just enough to keep the water buckets from freezing. I had one bad experience a few years ago at a heated barn where there was condensation on the windows, ammonia smell, etc. and had to promptly move my horse out of there. Has anyone kept their horse at a heated barn that still had good airflow, etc? I know the risk of respiratory illnesses goes up. Also, how do the horses adjust going outside, from the heated barn to the cold? I'm used to leaving a turnout on 24/7 in the coldest days of winter........do you have to take the turnout blanket off every time they come back into the barn, then on again when they go back out? Seems like unheated would be way healthier..........

  • #2
    I am a Minnesotan and here if you expected to work horses year round the barn must be heated.

    The key to a heated barn is a proper ventilation system. You can't just have heat with no air exchange. Cupolas and ridge vents do some, but you will also likely need forced air exchange in the form of exhaust fans. These are set on a thermostat so when it gets too warm in the barn they kick up blowing air out of the barn. When it cools down to the temp you want nothing is happening, when it gets too cold the heaters kick on, if the system is set up and running well. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/...s/10-059.htm#6

    There should be no unusual ammonia smell and condensation on the ceiling and windows should be a rare thing. Never had to deal with an increase in respiratory sickness.

    Yes, when you put the horse out you can put a turn out blanket on, when it comes in off. Actually for most of the winter I find that horses are fine a medium weight but heavy duty blanket (this is the one I like http://radoninc.com/apparel3.htm) for both inside and out (I find horses are comfortable in this blanket when body clipped from about 20-50 degrees F). But if you put a very heavy turn oput on you will need to switch to a lighter stable blanket inside for a clipped horse, or nothing inside for a hairy one.

    If the horse is body clipped and being worked all winter keeping it in a heated barn, to me, is better than working a horse off and on in the winter because of cold temps (horse stands one week because it is too cold for you, gets worked for 3 days, stand 2 days, worked for a week, stands, works, stands- not good in my view). Asking an unclipped horse to work on a regular basis so you get him hot and then trying to cool out and dry a wet hairy horse is also unacceptable to me.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Thanks, Renae. I forgot to add, my mare is not clipped at all and normally just wears a midweight on the coldest days (I'm in Michigan) and then if it goes above 35 or so, I put on a sheet. I will ask about the ventilation system. Also I would have to know that they would take my mare's blanket off when she comes in, and put it on when she goes out.

      Comment


      • #4
        Heated barn = sealed tight.

        Even with an automated ventilation system, I don't believe you get good air exchange.

        No air exchange, increased risk of respiratory issues. Definitely have to keep stalls clean (which they should be anyway) b.c ammonia will build up quicker. Have to keep horses blanketed b/c their coat won't come in long enough for outside f they are in a warmer temp at night...a big butt pain. You would probably have to adjust your blanket weight up from current.

        Our barn put in an insulated heated arena & it is kept ~37 F. It is humid & there have been mold issues. It has an air exchange system. I really do not like it.

        I have never kept horses in a heated barn, I live in MN (actually here my horse is outside 24/7, and yes, cooling her down can take forever b/f I can get her back out) & grew up in New England. My friends in Manitoba don't have a heated barn & they train all through the winter.

        I will quote the head state veterinarian (ancient) that taught my (and my parents) Patho course in undergrad:

        "The healthiest cows I see are in barns where you can throw a cat through the wall"

        He always said that. An odd way of saying pay attention to ventilation

        Some people do like having a heated barn, especially if they (the person) are sensitive to cold. I don't like it & wouldn't choose it for my horse.

        YMMV.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Hippolyta, those were my concerns. If they are paying to heat the barn, they must keep it fairly closed up, or it would be a waste of money. I can't stand the thought of humidity during the winter time !!! The other barn I'm looking at moving to is not heated, and is very nice....but is about 20 minutes further (one way) to drive. I just don't think I'll be comfortable with the heated barn.......just not natural for the horses. My horses have always been more uncomfortable in the HOT weather than the COLD weather.
          Last edited by autumn50; Aug. 16, 2012, 05:40 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            I too have boarded in MN for several years in a heated barn. As Renae said, it's necessary if you want to work and keep water from freezing.

            But when I had the option, I boarded my horses in semi-private outdoor paddocks with heated water tanks, and then used the heated barn for tacking up/riding (it was attached to the insulated indoor). And for two years, one of my horses spent both winters in an "outdoor" (non heated, non-insulated run-in) stall with heated buckets. He was just fine. The only beef I had was that his poop would freeze solid and it was a beast to clean his stall.

            The ventilation in a heated barn obviously isn't nearly as good as when it's open in the summer, but another concern I had was blanketing. All my horses got turned out first thing in the morning (during the coldest part of the day), so they often times went from 32+ degrees to sub-zero temperatures. It was very difficult to maintain adequate blanketing where they didn't sweat at night or freeze during the morning. I was unable to make it out to the barn twice a day to switch blankets, and the barn did not offer that service.

            Comment


            • #7
              Sort of heated

              I'm at a barn in Michigan that is heated, but I wouldn't say it is really heated. There is an underground system for radiant heating in the stall areas and it literally just keeps the buckets from freezing. We always leave the end doors cracked open for ventilation at night and they are mostly open during the day while the workers are cleaning stalls and doing turnout. Actually if it's not too cold (above 25) a few of us usually leave the top of our dutch doors open for extra air.
              On the coldest nights there is regular heat that can be turned on in the grooming/wash stall area and the tack rooms.
              That said, I've never felt very warm in the winter (still in coat and gloves!) and I love that my horses' buckets aren't full of ice. My horses usually wear their medium weight rambos inside and out.
              Not sure if the place you are looking at is like that, but you can see how heated can have various meanings.
              http://www.stampyandthebrain.com

              Comment


              • #8
                Every time I've been in one during the winter, the urine smell knocks me out. And they were CLEAN barns. There's just something about the lack of circulation that isolates the smell. I, for one, would probably be okay with a heated ring/lounge but not an entirely closed/heated barn. I think air circulation is too important. I'm also lucky to be in the Mid-atlantic where it doesn't get THAT cold... but I don't think it would benefit my horse's airways to be in a totally closed and heated barn. I'd rather they be chilly but have fresh air.
                ~Veronica
                "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
                http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Renae View Post
                  I am a Minnesotan and here if you expected to work horses year round the barn must be heated.


                  If the horse is body clipped and being worked all winter keeping it in a heated barn, to me, is better than working a horse off and on in the winter because of cold temps (horse stands one week because it is too cold for you, gets worked for 3 days, stand 2 days, worked for a week, stands, works, stands- not good in my view). Asking an unclipped horse to work on a regular basis so you get him hot and then trying to cool out and dry a wet hairy horse is also unacceptable to me.
                  I am a Minnesotan. Not only do I work horses year round, I compete year round. We do not have a heated barn. We are working on getting a heater installed in the indoor.

                  We compete in heated and non-heated arenas. Our horses do just fine. We do blanket those that compete.

                  I ride at 10 degrees without problems. Proper cool down is important. One of my mares can soak through three coolers. She sweats standing still when it's above 80 - just the way she is.

                  The longest I have been between working horses is 10 days. I take the work load and the weather into consideration when training all year round.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Hippolyta View Post
                    "The healthiest cows I see are in barns where you can throw a cat through the wall"
                    Maybe this is a regional thing... but why would anyone ever be throwing cats in a barn?!
                    ~Veronica
                    "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
                    http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      My horse lives in a barn that is heated through the winter. No respiratory problems, no ammonia smell (the place is spotless.)

                      Horses are out all day, in at night.


                      I used to board at a barn that was kept really warm, attached to a really warm indoor (as in riding in shirt sleeves in the depths of a Utah mountain winter.) We never had any respiratory or condensation problems there either. Yet again, the horses were out all day, in at night.

                      My problem there was that part of the barn had the radiant heat running under the stalls. They smelled of cooking urine no matter how anal we were about keeping it clean. We put in big fans to vent the barn into the indoor and increase the airflow.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have been in plenty of heated barns with no problems at all regarding ventilation, smell, condensation, etc. The biggest issue at one barn was that the exhaust fan was so loud and obnoxious that it drove both horses and people absolutely insane. Well, that, and they never turned out...but that's a separate issue.

                        Really, most heated barns are not heated to a very warm temperature (you usually still need a winter coat, etc.), and most are NOT sealed air tight.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Renae View Post
                          I am a Minnesotan and here if you expected to work horses year round the barn must be heated.

                          The key to a heated barn is a proper ventilation system. You can't just have heat with no air exchange. Cupolas and ridge vents do some, but you will also likely need forced air exchange in the form of exhaust fans. These are set on a thermostat so when it gets too warm in the barn they kick up blowing air out of the barn. When it cools down to the temp you want nothing is happening, when it gets too cold the heaters kick on, if the system is set up and running well. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/...s/10-059.htm#6

                          There should be no unusual ammonia smell and condensation on the ceiling and windows should be a rare thing. Never had to deal with an increase in respiratory sickness.

                          Yes, when you put the horse out you can put a turn out blanket on, when it comes in off. Actually for most of the winter I find that horses are fine a medium weight but heavy duty blanket (this is the one I like http://radoninc.com/apparel3.htm) for both inside and out (I find horses are comfortable in this blanket when body clipped from about 20-50 degrees F). But if you put a very heavy turn oput on you will need to switch to a lighter stable blanket inside for a clipped horse, or nothing inside for a hairy one.

                          If the horse is body clipped and being worked all winter keeping it in a heated barn, to me, is better than working a horse off and on in the winter because of cold temps (horse stands one week because it is too cold for you, gets worked for 3 days, stand 2 days, worked for a week, stands, works, stands- not good in my view). Asking an unclipped horse to work on a regular basis so you get him hot and then trying to cool out and dry a wet hairy horse is also unacceptable to me.
                          ^This. Heated to just above freezing is fine IF there is proper ventilation. If there is no proper exchange of air, yes, you will get condensation and humidity problems.

                          Problem is, most barn owners are loathe to spend money heating air and then watch the heated air blow out through an exhaust. It is necessary though if you want to heat your barn and maintain good air quality.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            As with everything horse related, it boils down to how it's managed.

                            I managed a heated barn, and my biggest nemesis was the uber-weathly owner coming in after the bars closed, showing off his palatial estate to the potential prey, and would crank the barn up to 75 in the dead of winter at 2 a.m. By the time I made it out at 6:45, the horses were dripping in sweat.

                            If you BM/ BO keeps it just above freezing, and is good with stall cleaning including adding ammonia neutralizers like Sweet PDZ or Stall Dry, and knows to crack a window every other stall, it should be fine. Of course, that's a lot of 'ifs'.

                            It can be done successfully so long as the purpose and limitations are recognized.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Sansena View Post
                              and my biggest nemesis was the uber-weathly owner coming in after the bars closed, showing off his palatial estate to the potential prey,
                              Ok, completely unrelated to the point of this thread but this paints quite an amusing mental picture for me. I see an inebriated preppy looking guy steering around a tipsy blonde (it has to be a blonde for purposes of this story) in a low cut dress teetering around in high heels while fawning over the yawning, blinking and utterly bored horses. Like something out of the movie "Arthur".

                              I'll bet that was an interesting job!

                              Carry on.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I live in Iowa and had never had a heated barn until this winter. Where I boarded in college had a heated area for the tack room and to tack up the horses that was kept probably about 40 degrees or so but then the rest of the barn and the indoor were not heated. My horse lived outside so she just came in to work. It worked fine for us and it was nice to be able to have her go from warm from riding to a mild area where she wouldn't cool down too fast but it wasn't so warm that it was a huge transition to then go outside.

                                Where I live now post college has a heated barn that stays about 45 and then the indoor is a bit cooler. My horse again lives outside, but I clipped her (a trace clip) and she is blanketed. So when she is outside she has the protection of the blanket to stay warm, I err on the side of not over blanketing since I can only be out once a day and I don't want her to sweat during the day then get cold. Since they have free choice hay I know at night when the temp drops she will still be just fine. But having her clipped means that she doesn't get over heated when she goes into the barn.

                                They keep that barn very clean and it never had condensation or an ammonia smell-it is nice and big and airy which helps too. I think as long as the barn is well designed for it the horses are fine. The ones that stay in do get turnout during the day unless it is bad, and I believe they get turnouts put on and then some just have a light stable blanket on inside.

                                It is really nice-I normally ride in an under armour turtle neck and vest and have a coat for when I am outside. Definitely not warm enough inside to ride in short sleeves, but I don't need to feel like the michelin man!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by vxf111 View Post
                                  Maybe this is a regional thing... but why would anyone ever be throwing cats in a barn?!
                                  Who knows? I have never heard anything about throwing cats other than from him.

                                  I would not like it if he threw my cats!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I have been in a heated barn in the Midwest for over 20 years. The barn is far from sealed up tight. Plenty of ventilation and the horses still need blankets or sheets. It is kept around 45 to keep the buckets and our toes from freezing. I had my horses in unheated barns as a kid but can't imagine roughing it now.
                                    We ride outside most of the winter but it is nice to have a warm place to tack up and warm up after riding.
                                    Horses are always healthy and happy, no respiratory problems at all. Doesn't smell any worse in the winter than an unheated barn that has its doors closed.
                                    Lilykoi


                                    Hell hath no fury like the chestnut thoroughbred mare

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Mozart View Post
                                      Ok, completely unrelated to the point of this thread but this paints quite an amusing mental picture for me. I see an inebriated preppy looking guy steering around a tipsy blonde (it has to be a blonde for purposes of this story) in a low cut dress teetering around in high heels while fawning over the yawning, blinking and utterly bored horses. Like something out of the movie "Arthur".

                                      I'll bet that was an interesting job!

                                      Carry on.


                                      Are you psychic?

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I have never been in a NON heated barn. Barns I have been at have NEVER smelled (I have been in ONE barn that smelled VERY strongly of ammonia, but never a barn I have been in). Nothing has ever gotten moldy and the air has always smelled nice and clean and fresh. I would never want a non heated barn! I hate being cold!

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