The barn is always a place where you have to be careful but during the freezing winter temperatures it can become even more dangerous. However, you can reduce the risk by using these five tips for winter barn safety to help prevent accidents. Unless you’re careful winter barn conditions can often lead to damage to equipment, people and horses. These tips will help you keep yourself, your horses you’re your equipment safe and evaluate conditions for the horses and people in the barn so you can make it through the winter safe and sound.
In sub-zero conditions water is a major concern. Leaving things wet before you leave for the evening can lead to icy conditions in the morning which can lead to accidents. When you change the stall waters make sure you empty the buckets away from all the entrances. Designate an area where people can tip out the buckets and make sure that people know it will be icy.
Another tip is to make sure that people don’t leave the hose lying in open areas and across the entrances. When water freezes it expands and that can push any water that’s left in the hose out and onto the ground, leading to more freezing and icy conditions.
Concrete is the worst surface for ice because it is so smooth so make sure it’s your first priority to keep water off the concrete. If it does get icy then make sure you have plenty of ice melt to put down so you can remove the danger as soon as possible. Ice can cause both horses and people to trip and can cause some very nasty injuries.
Evaluating the riding conditions is very important if you want to stay safe during winter riding. Even if the arena looks clear you have to be careful because some of those bumps and ruts may be frozen in place. If the area is sand or stonedust then your horse won’t be expecting frozen lumps and they can cause the horse to trip and fall or cause them to twist or roll their legs, causing an injury that will be tough to fix. The best thing is to walk the arena or field on foot first to make sure you’re aware of any areas that may be frozen solid, icy or otherwise unsafe.
Evaluating the conditions in the field is important because you don’t want your horses to have any nasty surprises after you turn them out. Walk the fields to try and spot any potential problem areas. You want to look for the same things you were looking for in the arena; large lumps that are frozen solid and any low lying areas that may become icy and slippery for your horse. If you see these and think they may be a problem then get some electric fence or some tape and rope off the dangerous areas to make sure that none of your horses will slip and hurt themselves.
Electricity and Heating
We all want to keep warm in the barn during the winter and we recommend it – cold hands and fingers lead to slips and accidents. However, when you go to set up your heaters and other electrics make sure you avoid a few key issues. Firstly, make sure that whenever you run a cable or have a plug between two cables it is away from any water. Water can cause the cable to short circuit and heat up, or worse it can charge the water and mean that anyone touching it gets a very nasty shock.
The other thing with heating and heaters is to make sure that you have them in a safe place away from anything that may catch fire. A barn fire is everyone’s worst nightmare so to avoid it, make sure the first time you turn your heater on you keep a very close eye on it to make sure any dust from the summer does not catch fire. After you’re sure it’s safe make sure you keep it away from hay and other flammable items, otherwise the consequences could be dire.
Keep Things Clean
Tidiness may seem like the least of your worries as you struggle out to the field in a foot of snow, but actually it is very important for both you and the horses. Can you imagine what would happen if you had left a fork or other implement on the ground and the snow buried it. At the very least you’ll end up with some very sore shins and it could be far worse. If you keep things in their rightful places then when the snow comes down you’ll know the areas you have to avoid in order to avoid getting hurt.
Even when it is nice outside the barn is a place where you have to be vigilant in order to prevent injuries. This list of tips will help you keep you and your horses safe in the barn. Accidents can be avoided and we can help keep barn safety high by keeping a careful eye on how we go about the barn business during the winter. Do you have any ideas for winter barn safety? Leave us a comment with your ideas for winter barn safety below.