Monday 28th January, 2019
Frost and ice can bring many dangers for both horse and rider, however clever stable design can make a big difference. Find out what to watch out for this winter in and around the stable yard.
Stables typically have large flat areas and walkways, and these can quickly end up like ice rinks in the winter. When designing your stable yard you need to consider good drainage so that you don’t end up with areas of pooled water. Make sure you use an all-weather surface to provide good grip and prevent slipping.
Even with excellent drainage, some ice is inevitable on your stable yard. Always incorporate a gritting station in your yard design, equipped with a filled salt box and shovel. Grit the yard surfaces at night and first thing in the morning to help dissolve ice and improve traction underfoot. Rubber matting in the stables will also provide additional comfort and grip.
Horses are stabled a great deal more during the winter and this can prove problematic for horses with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder). Also known as Recurrent airway Obstruction, COPD is similar to asthma in humans. It is caused by dust from bedding, spores from hay and dirt from coats. You can combat this by soaking hay nets, moistening bedding and ensuring that he has a well ventilated stable. Incorporate a manger and water trough that is chest high to avoid dust being inhaled while eating and drinking. Also include good sized windows that can be partially or fully opened to allow air to move through the stable.
When the rain is falling, dehydration may be the last thing on your mind. However, when the frost sets in water troughs and buckets will freeze. There is a real risk of dehydration during the winter, especially for horses who are turned out all year round. Make sure that you check all water stations every day and both break and remove ice to allow your horse to drink freely.
Winter brings short days and long nights, which means riders are frequently feeding and stabling their horses in the dark. Solar panel floodlighting provides a cost-effective way of illuminating the stable yard so you can better examine your horse when bringing him in. Sensor lights act as a deterrent to would be thieves, so set up a light near the entrance to your yard.