CategoryUseful Products and Services Archives - Ramm Fence Equestrian Blog
Some areas on your farm will have higher horse traffic, therefore will be more prone to mud.
Many areas of our country are experiencing a winter that brought colder than normal temperatures and higher than normal snowfall totals. For more than a month, Michigan has remained below freezing temperatures and the snow has kept piling up–many of us are literally running out of places to put the snow! This means when things begin to thaw out in the coming weeks, we will be faced with a muddy mess!
Since we know this mess is inevitable, what can we do to prepare? Below are some tips to help you mange the mud!
Suit up! Be sure you are properly outfitted for a trip to the barn.
- So I can be prepared for a trip to the barn whenever the chance arises, I keep a pair of insulated muck boots at the barn during the springtime. A great tip to help your older boots last longer is to put large plastic bags over your socks. This will eliminate that terrible moment when you “find” the hole in your boot. Wet socks are no fun!
- Have you ever found yourself walking through mud when suddenly your foot comes up with no boot attached? A great tip is to NOT pull your foot straight up, which is likely to cause your boot to stay with the mud. Pull heel first, and you’re much more likely to keep foot and boot attached.
Protect your horse! In addition to mud, spring brings with it many difficulties for the horses themselves.
- Read this Michigan State University (MSU) Extension article on common springtime woes for Michigan horses to brush up on ailments such as colic, thrush and laminitis. (Good article for non-Michigan horse owners, too!)
- Beware of rain rot as spring rains commence.
- Here’s information to help you understand scratches, the equine ailment found often in wet environments.
- Additionally, you may have some questions on what your horse should be wearing. When considering blanketing or not, it is most important to provide your horse an opportunity to stay dry. Wet horses are more susceptible to hypothermia in cold temperatures and dermatologic issues (such as rain rot).
Prep the farm! To best answer the question of how to prepare your farm for mud management, I reached out to some of my horse-owning friends to see how they cope. Their useful tips are listed below!
- It’s best to recognize that whether or not we like it, parts of our horses’ turnout may be destroyed during the springtime. The soft footing that leads to mud will likely kill any vegetation growing where traffic patterns are high. To minimize the damaged ground, designate a sacrifice lot.
- You’ll also want to eliminate low-lying areas as best you can, especially if these are in high traffic areas. This can be done in a variety of ways. Bringing in sand, wood bark, sawdust, gravel or crushed asphalt are all ways to help prevent mud at gates and entries to barns and arenas.
- Another unfortunate side effect of mud is ruts and holes in the ground. It’s a good idea to smooth out these ruts as best you can when the weather is above freezing and the soil is still pliable. As temperatures fluctuate, which they tend to do in Michigan, these deep ruts will freeze when temperatures drop, leaving dangerous holes and uneven ground.
Feed wisely! These tips can help you minimize waste of feed.
- If you’re feeding hay on the ground outside, there are several ways to prevent waste. Feeding on a rubber mat can keep hay from being lost in the mud or water. Additionally, it can minimize the amount of dirt or sand the horses will ingest. Eating sand can potentially lead to sand colic.
- Another way to minimize mud is to encourage horses to change their traffic patterns. Feeding in a different location of the turn out lot each day can help prevent high traffic areas.
While we can’t eliminate the problem of mud altogether, using these tips can help us cope with the inevitable mess of springtime!
This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu.
For those of us that live in cold weather climates, dealing with ice in the barn is no fun. We have to chip away at ice laden buckets that can lead to cold water splashing in our faces, twice a day – that is the worst kind of cold! I did this for years, until we discovered how much insulated or heated buckets helped us and our horses through the cold and freezing winter months!
Choosing between insulated or heated buckets depends on weather you have electricity in your barn or if you would rather use insulated buckets that do not require electricity. With either choice, you will be providing your horses with needed water in the winter that is crucial to their good health. And you cut back on the cold and daunting daily work load.
Heated flat backed water buckets require a 3 pronged GFI 110 volt outlet. Your bucket can hang on the wall with a secure ‘pail safe’ hanger or a 5-gallon bucket holder. Both of these options help to keep your heated bucket on the wall rather than becoming a ‘toy’ for your horses to play with if they become board. While the cord is wrapped in a wire coil, its best to run it through your stall directly to the power source. If you are concerned about horses ‘playing’ with the cord, one idea is to cut PVC pipe in half and secure it over the cord to the outside of your stall.
Heated buckets turn on and off at 40 degrees keeping electricity costs down. Your horses water will not freeze – giving them the water that they need to keep them warm and hydrated. I like to be sure to empty and fill my horses buckets twice a day in the winter. With the heated buckets, I simply pour the small amount of water into another bucket and then clean or just fill them. This way I can see how much my horses are drinking and keep the buckets clean of hay and debris.
Heated buckets come in a 5 gallon size, great for stalls, or a 16 gallon size that can be used outdoors, for more than one horse or for small animals like dogs, sheep, goats or reindeer (: We have 2 reindeer at the RAMM farm and the 16 gallon bucket works great for them).
Insulated buckets keep water from freezing, however, you must change the water twice a day to keep buckets completely ice free. Floaters that sit on top of the water further help to keep ice from forming. These buckets come with a wall mount holds the buckets securely to the wall. The bucket can be pulled directly out of the holder and easily emptied – no more ice!
When you need a way to keep water buckets from freezing in your barn – be it for your horses or small animals – I know you will love the benefits of a heated or insulated bucket in your barn. I have been using them for years now and would not go through a cold winter without them!
What do you do to keep your water ‘frost free’ in the winter?
You may remember that a few weeks ago, Hootie, our leopard Appy, was privileged to be selected to have Equine Body work. In layman’s terms, he received an equine body massage.
This was Hootie’s second session and I was really wondering how this would affect him. Amazingly, he seemed to quickly relax with Pat, our Equine Performance Body Work therapist. He just knew that this was going to be something ‘good’ and almost became ‘putty’ in her – our hands. Well, not to take the words away from Pat, here is her account of working with Hootie. ~
Recently I was given the opportunity and had the pleasure to do a body work session on Debbie’s horse, Hootie. First, let me say, what a character!! He managed to keep Debbie and myself laughing through most of the massage.
At the start of the massage he was very stoic and did not want to show any signs of tension or restriction. This is very admirable because in the wild, if he did show weakness he would be the first horse sorted out of the herd to be eaten by a predator. Hootie knows that he tastes good, so he doesn’t want that to happen. As the session progressed he got the idea that I wasn’t going to eat him, but, in fact that I was making him feel good despite himself. He loved to do funny things, either because what was being done to him felt really good or just the opposite, that he wanted to avoid having a technique done to him that was going to release tension which he had been holding on to for a while.
One of my favorite beginning techniques is the Bladder Meridian. This can be done by anyone with their horse. Gently, slowly and lightly moved your fingers from just behind the ear at the poll, down the neck about 2 inches from the mane, continue along the back, just off the spine, towards the hind end and then down the back leg in the poverty groove until you get to the leg/hoof junction. While doing this watch your horse’s face/eye for blinks. If he blinks, then hold that spot until he has some sort of a release like licking/chewing, more blinks, shaking his head or maybe a snort/sneeze. The slower you go, and the lighter your touch on the horse, the more reaction you will see. Then do the other side the same way.
Hootie was very flexible in the neck and front legs. He enjoyed all of the manipulation and was quite comical with his big neck stretches, turning his head horizontally and laying his head in Debbie’s arms. We did notice definite changes in demeanor when techniques were done to his hind end. He needed to do a lot of chewing, licking the feed dish and stomping of the hind legs. Hootie had many releases and was a great sport in cooperating during the whole session. He would always come back for more, so we knew he liked it. I am looking forward to working with him again to see what new things he has to show me.
~If your horse seems to be stiff, sore, grumpy, or tense, I would highly suggest trying Equine Body Work with him/her. You can not only see the results during a session, but more-so afterwords. And you clearly see the relaxation in your horse when your in the saddle. To me, and Hootie, its worth finding a therapist that’s ‘tuned into releasing key junctions of the body that most affect performance’. ~
If you have any questions for Pat Turpening or would like to schedule an equine body work session, please contact her at 419-270-2336 , 419-335-6237, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Body work is not a substitute for veterinary care and if in doubt regarding the health condition of your horse, consult your veterinarian.
As I stop and think about the many barns that my horses have lived in or were stabled in, most had dutch doors! They have a multitude of benefits for you and your horse. If your barn lacks ventilation, easy in and out access or if you need a way to let your horse enjoy an open view, dutch doors will be just the answer. Top door’s opened alone or both top and bottom doors opened, you just cannot beat the functionality!
Almost any barn can be remodeled to accommodate these useful doors. You just need to start with a strong framed opening accommodating the wood supports in your barn. Think about the base of your frame to be sure your horse can easily walk over the threshold. Additionally, you will want to consider a threshold that will keep your bedding in place so it is not in the way of your door. Keeping bedding away from the bottom door is a key for closure without putting stress on your hinges.
The doors that you see pictured to the right are steel framed and built to order. We choose a pre-made laser cut cross buck design. They look just like a wood painted cross-bucks with the ‘cross’ and outside frame that lays on top of the door. Our pre-ordered doors come with all hardware, which helps the building and detail process go much quicker. We had the option to choose a 3 piece frame or a welded one piece frame-which we decided on, for the ease of construction. You can choose from galvanized steel or powder-coated paint with over 30 colors to choose from to match your barn.
From having Dutch Doors in the past, I did not want to have my horses lean on them when the top door was opened. So we decided to put an inner door on the inside of the bottom frame. It saves on the wear with the bottom half of the Dutch door and horses tend to lean or rub on the inside door rather than the outside door. We made a steel mesh framed bottom door which allowed us to open the bottom half and the ventilation was superior! Small latches were installed on the outside of the barn so doors could be secured open with small eye hooks. On windy days you don’t want your doors swinging, with any kind of wind, and accidentally hitting you or your horse.
When horses are being shod or in the aisle of the barn and getting through is not easy, exiting out the Dutch Doors makes turn-out or riding easy. We also opted to have an overhang along each side of the barn which helped to keep us and the horses out of direct weather. When the doors are closed in inclement weather, they are tight and do not rattle or let the wind, rain or snow through.
Sliding Dutch Doors on the front of your barn can really make barn entrance beautiful. A plain barn can be brought to life and given a new look as well as increase functionality. The large door way opening is unobtrusive to horses and allows access for large equipment. You can opt to have windows at the top of your doors and allow natural light to filter into your barn. Top windows also give the front of your barn a truly distinctive look.
If you like the look of cross buck doors and do not want a ‘double door’, you can consider adding ‘bale doors’ to your barn They offer the ability to increase ventilation and still let your horses have a view with out having to install windows and grill work. When installing any of your doors, be sure to think about how far apart the doors will be set, pertaining to the outside of your barn. Putting them too close will cause over lapping and you may want to consider spacing to allow the doors to be flat when completely opened.
Sliding Dutch Doors can be used for tack rooms, grain and hay storage areas. Because they can be used in a standard door application or as large as over head door ways, they can be used for both interior and exterior areas. Not only can they be used with your horses, but many of us have small children (or small animals and dogs) that are can be safely kept in areas of the barn that should be off limits for safety reasons. Being able to close just the bottom door or both, gives you so much versatility.
Take it from me, I know you will love having Dutch Doors in and outside of your barn! I would love to hear from you and find out your thoughts and ideas about having them in your barn!
Take some time this week to enjoy your horses and your family. I hope you enjoy every moment in your barn!