Its Cold in Here! ... Were You Raised In A Barn?
Brrr! It just seems to be a fact of life that most barns are chilly in wintertime. Finding a balance between proper ventilation and "frostbite" can prove to be quite a challenge. Happily, with a little advance planning and a few supplies from your local hardware or farm supply stores, your barn can become a cozy santuary for your horse, and a lot less work and misery for you.
Of course several horses in a barn can raise the temperature with their own body heat, but along with that comes excess moisture so proper ventillation is a must. However, if your barn more aptly resembles a wind tunnel, it's time to get out the hammer and nails. Loose shingles or sheetmetal should be battened down, and broken windows replaced. Windows can be boarded up with plywood or even cardboard if money is tight. Simply cleaning out the gutters can do much toward keeping your barn free from pooling water inside, allowing a free flow that can be directed downhill and away from the barn.
A clean barn with the aisleways clear of debris can do much toward making your job of caring for your horses easier. Installing shelving for your meds, grooming supplies and tools and adding pegs for hanging halters, bridles and lead ropes can keep you organized and make preparing for a winter ride a snap. Store grain in rodent proof containers with tight lids. Make sure, too, that any water heating systems are grounded cover electrical wires with PVC pipe coverings to prevent accidents to your horse.
Make sure too that your stalls are large enough for your horses to move around freely, since exercise is essential toward keeping the muscles from cramping, the blood flowing, and improves digestion of foodstuffs.
Many horseowners feel that keeping a horse out in the open air is healthier than cooped up in a barn, since this is the way horses in the wild live. However, a horse in the wild will seek whatever shelter is available during really inclement weather and without fences to inhibit the search can rely on instinct to help it survive. Because domesticated horses are fenced in, it is best to provide a proper 3 sided shelter with its back to the wind. Of course, if you have an alpha horse who marches in and refuses to allow the others in your herd to enter, it might be best to provide several shelters, or a very largeshed.
Allowing your horse to put on extra weight while gradually increasing its food intake can do a lot toward keeping it warm, and a shaggy winter coat, while not as attractive, is nature's way of providing the necessary protection from the weather.