A Few of My Favorite (Winter) Things

horse-and-barn-in-snow_stablemanagementIf you own or manage a barn, over the years you’ve come up against some challenges in doing so in winter.  Me, too.  I’ve put together a list of some of the things I’ve discovered over the years that have made my job a bit easier.

Stall mats – My favorite multi-use tool.  However, in the winter, in addition to keeping your horse off a cold concrete floor, these are great to as anti-slip walkways to the barn.  They are also indispensable for helping to keep mud from forming around barn or stall door openings.  Outdoor water troughs often become churned up and muddy -when the mud freezes, it becomes a landmine for your horse to walk over.  This helps protect him from taking a bad step on frozen mud.

Water heaters – Horses need about 10 gallons of water daily. While the optimal temperature for adequate water consumption is between 45 and 650 F, most times it more of mater of just having water instead of ice!  Heated water buckets can help with that.  Classic Equine has automatic water options for both inside and outside use.  Both come with a heater option.

 For those of you without an automatic water system, there are heated water buckets that work great.  Plug them in and the heated coils in the partitioned bottom of the bucket keep water ice-free.    If your horses use a stock tank for water, a stock tank deicer is another great option to eliminate ice.  While neither may bring the temperature up to “warm,” both are excellent at keeping ice from forming. For those bigger warm water jobs, there are portable hot water heaters. 

white-horse-with-feederAutomatic Feeders – Unpredictable winter weather can sometimes make it difficult to get to the barn at exact times to feed.  And you know what your horses can do to your stall doors if the grain isn’t delivered on time!  If you aren’t able (or don’t want to) get out to the barn to grain your horse, this may be an option. The iFeed system is an automatic grain feeding system that allows you to set up one or several stalls on whatever schedule you want to deliver grain. 

wash-bay-heaterWash Bay Heaters – this went from being a luxury to a necessity when the winters started getting colder and snowier over the last few years.  Great for both clipped and unclipped horses.  If you don’t clip, the heated lights can help dry out your sweaty horse before blanketing.  If you clip, the heated lights can keep your horse warm during the time between grooming and putting on his blanket.  Also great for riders, trainers or spectators who are frozen from too long in the arena.

Auto lights – Let’s face it: even though you know every inch of your barn, there’s still something scary about going into a totally dark barn before you hit the lights.  I like the old-fashioned automatic lights that go on an off at set times and illuminate my way to the horses.  Or you can go high tech with new smart products like Amazon’s Echo.  With Echo, you plug your lights into a special socket and then you program your phone to not only tell it when to turn the lights on or off, but you can check to see if you actually remembered to turn them off.

Good winter clothes – no one knows cold like the people who live in Maine.  There are a lot of good winter apparel companies, some specifically for horse people (though most of them are geared for riding), but by far L.L.Bean has the best assortment of warm weather clothes – from undergarments to hats rain/snow boots.  And they are all guaranteed with easy return.  Wear it all winter.  Didn’t like how it performed?  LL Bean will take it back for an exchange or refund.  For any reason.   During winter months, water should be kept between 45 to 65°F to maximize consumption. 

Please note that, except for Classic Equine Equipment, we don’t promote the listed brands of equipment.  They are only the ones I have used with success.

With Christmas still more than a week away, there’s still time for you to ask Santa for one of these winter helpers. It can help you get the best present of all – more time riding!

7 Do-It-Yourself Upgrades To Your Barn

These seven upgrades (all available through Classic Equine Equipment) are functional, cost effective and can enhance your property value. These projects can be accomplished by most do-it-yourself-ers and the results will be appreciated by both the two- and four-legged users!

CEE doors

  1. Metal exterior barn end doors

Consider purchasing new metal barn end doors.  To prevent rusting, look for doors made from pre-galvanized steel, and ask about the availability of a rust-inhibiting primer and powder coating.  If you have a large opening, consider investing in aluminum doors, which won’t rust and are much lighter and easier to handle than either their steel or wood counter parts.  Don’t forget to update the track system, too.

  1. Dutch doors

Look for steel doors built with fully formed outer jambs, much like a regular door frame.  These are made to fit an existing opening.  If you do not have openings for Dutch doors, cut them in to your barn wall and then build a simple jamb.  The doors are a great safety addition and add much needed ventilation.

  1. Windows and window grills

Stall windows add light and airflow.  If you add glass-paned windows, be sure to include protective grills.  Bar spacing on grillwork should be three inches or less for safety.

  1. Stall fronts

It is possible to just replace the stall doors and tracks.  Grillwork for the front of the stalls can be added or replaced – just be sure the spacing is three inches or less.   For a more complete renovation, a one-piece fully framed stall door can be purchased.  Be sure to consider yoke and feed door options, too

  1. Stall mats

Consider selecting high-quality interlocking stall mats that stay in place.  Look for mats that have a lifetime warranty against rolling, buckling and curling.

  1. Aisle flooring

Often the existing floor must be dug out to accommodate the thickness of the flooring.  Individual dog-bone-style pavers provide less waste than larger matting, the finished look is elegant, and the surface is non-slip.

  1. Tack room organizers

Like closet organizer systems, tack room organizers have component pieces that allow endless combinations of racks, baskets and hooks to be mounted on the tack room walls.

If you handle one upgrade per weekend, by the end of summer you can have a great barn!

 

14 Ways To Use Stall Mats To Solve Common Barn Problems

a horse for elinor run in shed.jpgWhile stall mats are great to use as the base layer in your horse’s stall for comfort, stall mats can also be used in several “non-traditional” ways to make your barn safer, cleaner and more user-friendly.  Consider these alternate uses in and around the barn as well as other areas where you can use Classic Equine Equipment’s versatile and durable stall mats:

  1. Stall mats can help eliminate mud around gates, doorways and paddocks. They are especially useful in and in front of run-in sheds..
  2. Stall mats in paddocks are easier on your horse’s legs and easier to clean up manure.
  3. Stall mats in the hay room make it easier to sweep and keep clean and helps keep your hay dry.
  4. Stall mats in indoor wash racks are non-slip and easy to clean. In outdoor stall mats, they do the same thing, but also prevent mud from hose runoff.
  5. Stall mats in the shoeing area are easier on your horse’s legs when being shod – and on your farrier’s too!
  6. Stall mats on the tack room floor are easier to clean than carpeting and are softer and warmer on your feet than concrete.
  7. Stall mats in the grain room make it easier to sweep up any spills. They also provide a deterrent to mice burrowing up into the feed room.
  8. Stall mats make great walkways in a variety of areas – down the aisle over concrete to keep horses from slipping or as a pathway to the barn in rainy weather.
  9. Stall mats attached to back walls of stalls can help save your walls and the legs of a horse with a habit of kicking.
  10. Stall mats in the bed of your truck make it easier to sweep out hay carrying hay or gravel.
  11. Stall mats provide excellent padding on the floor and sides of trailers and make floors easier to clean.
  12. Stall mats are great to bring to a show. They provide a soft and safe place for your horse to stand and a clean place for you to groom or tack up.
  13. Stall mats can be used under your compost bins to prevent nutrients from seeping into the ground. They also make it easier to scoop out the finished compost.
  14. Stall mats can be used around the house. Cut into smaller pieces when necessary:
    1. Use in front of your sink to keep your feet warmer and prevent leg strain from long periods of standing.
    2. Use as a mulch in the garden or around trees
    3. Use as a welcome mat
    4. Use a place to store muddy boots.
    5. Use in the garage or workshop to insulate the floor and cushion feet while working.
    6. Use in the back of your station wagon or SUV to keep it clean when hauling wet or muddy dogs.
Mighty Lite stall mat

 

Mighty Lite mat

 

Classic Equine Equipment mats come in the traditional 4′ x 6′ style as well as our lightweight and portable Mighty Lite mats.

There are probably many more uses for the“jack of all trade” stall mat – what others can you think of?

Photo credit:  Classic Equine Equipment; ahorseforelinor.com