Stable Secretary Blog

Prepping for the Great Freeze

The leafy, lush trees lining the pasture’s edge are quickly giving way to bare branches, and your green pasture often starts out the day with a coat of silver frost. This can only mean one thing – winter is on its way! Whether you keep a couple of horses at home or manage a large herd, preparing for winter before the weather gets too cold can save you a lot of headaches in the months to come. 

Anticipate Supply Needs 

While stocking up on supplies to get you through several months of winter weather isn’t feasible for some facilities based on their storage capabilities, there are a few things that you should be sure are on your property. 

  • Hay – If you can store enough hay to last you the entire winter, that’s great, but for the majority of horse barns, having hay delivered every few weeks or months is more the routine. Be sure to set aside a few extra bales of hay that aren’t counted in your usual tally. These can be lifesavers when poor conditions mean your delivery is delayed by a couple of days. 
  • Bedding – If you keep your horses in more during the winter to avoid bad weather, don’t forget to increase your bedding order. Horses use significantly more bedding inside all night during the winter versus the summer months when they’re only inside during the hottest part of the day.
  • Feed – While you don’t want to store feed for too long due to the risk of it going bad or being contaminated by hungry pests when you know bad weather is coming be sure to add an extra bag or two to your order. Better safe than sorry – especially when running out of feed means the risk of driving on dangerous roads or being glared at by hungry horses! 

Nutrition in Cold Weather

Horses have different nutritional needs in every season – especially if your pasture access and quality significantly changes. Take a look at your horse’s diet, body condition, and workload, and don’t be afraid to make gradual dietary changes as needed. Factor in additional nutrition if you often incorporate warm mashes made from something other than your horse’s usual meals in the colder months. Keeping detailed notes on the condition of every horse in the barn throughout the winter can not only keep you on top of any immediate concerns but can be helpful for the winters to come.

Replace Your First Aid Kit

Somewhere in your barn, you should have a fully stocked human and equine first aid kit. A cold and rainy fall day is the perfect time to go through the kit and ensure you’re prepared for emergencies. Remove and replace any expired or worn-out items, making sure to write down a list of any necessities that you need to pick up from your vet during their next visit. 

Prepare Your Facility

You probably already have a checklist for winterizing your barn, but as a reminder:

  • Waterers – Horses still need to drink the same amount of water in cold weather as hot, so prioritize a clean, unfrozen water source for your horse – both in the barn and pasture. If you use heated water buckets, test them to be sure they work before the weather gets too cold. Remember to clean out automatic waterers and buckets even during the winter months. Some horses drop hay and grain into their water source and then refuse to drink from a dirty bucket!
  • Hoses – Nobody likes dealing with a frozen hose. Detach and drain your hose from the spigot after each use. Keeping a backup hose stored in a warm area like the tack room can be a lifesaver when it’s below freezing and someone forgot to drain the usual hose!
  • Doors – Clean out door tracks to be sure your doors don’t freeze shut during cold nights. Check latches on every door and gate and replace those that are sticky or loose. 
  • Air-flow – While ventilation is important in your barn to keep your horse breathing clean, fresh air, you also don’t want drafts blowing in snow or rain. Check that windows and doors close tightly and repair any hinges that may be loose. This doesn’t mean that you should keep your barn locked up tight all winter. Allowing air to flow through your barn helps to control moisture, odors, and ammonia.


Make a blanketing strategy now, before the weather truly turns. Horses that are clipped need more diligent blanketing than those that are allowed to grow out winter fluff. Check that all blankets are clean, rip-free and that the clips still secure correctly. Nothing is worse than realizing a horse is missing a blanket the day that the weather gets bad. 

Simplify Winter Management

Remove some of the workloads by organizing your facility with StableSecretary. Having all your horse’s records in one place, the ability to set reminders, and one location for all your employees to get information can be a lifesaver in the colder months.