Friday, December 3, 2010

Looking after horses in the snow.

Most of the UK has now had snow for a couple of days ranging from several feet to an inch depending where you are.  If you've got more than a few inches of snow there's a chance your horses really are stable bound but fear not - we've got some helpful hits for you.  


First off is to go and get a sledge.  It may seem stupid but what's the point of carrying your water buckets, hay bales etc separately one at a time as you struggle through the snow.  Alternatively, put it on a sledge and do it all at once.  A large tarpaulin works quite well as well.  


Depending on how cold it is you might have had the problem of frozen water drinkers.  If they're automatic and the pipes are frozen then you're stuck unfortunately.  If you're using buckets or have been forced to use buckets chances are you'll have been breaking the ice on them.  The problem with this we've found is that horses don't like bits of ice in their water and stop drinking... typical. Solution, pour hot water into them from a kettle.  


The next problem you might have is that there's ice everywhere.  In an ideal world we'd all have bags of salt available but inevitably we don't.  Spreading a layer of horse urine soaked shavings on the yard may seem like a messy fix but it works.  In the olden days hospitals around the midlands were spreading salt that was about 10% mule urine!! (No shortage of bizarre facts from Google). 


If horses are in constantly it's also important to pick their feet out regularly as compacted decaying muck is ideal conditions for foot infections to thrive in.  Another problem you may have come across is horses fetlocks filling.  It's a perfectly normal condition for horses to get slightly filled fetlocks when they stand in.  The problems arise when they stand in days on end and can't even come out for a walk.  This stems from horses standing still for too long as their frog or "little hearts" aren't being compressed and helping the circulation in their lower legs.  What can help though is sweeping the bed right out the way and giving them a feed ball that they can chase round the stable in search of pony nuts.  It just keeps them moving a bit more and helps their circulation.  


 This next idea may seem incredibly immature but if you've got a foot of snow it might just help.  If you don't have a muck heap and use a "muck trailer" you may have had the problem that you haven't been able to get it out the yard to empty it.  It may seem a simple suggestion to put a muck heap somewhere else but that's not always practical for all yards.  What I have seen done is in a corner of the yard that's totally snow covered is to clear a section of it.  Then pile up as much snow as you can to build 3 walls and compress all the snow.  You end up with an area you can dump all your muck in.  It might seem a bad plan to have a muck heap in the middle of your yard but when the snow begins to melt the walls will be the last to melt so you'll have perfect access to your neat muck heap to dispose of.  Plus, having your muck heap close by instead of struggling through the snow can be quite a good plan to. 


So there you go, some sensible and some mad cap schemes to deal with the snow.  Of course now I've written this it's bound to melt straight away! (I live in hope...)


 



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