How to Prepare Your Yard for Snow
There’s nothing quite like a crisp winter’s morning. The light is sharp and the landscape can look particularly striking after the snow has fallen. But snow is rarely good news at your yard. Snow quickly becomes compacted and turns to ice making life dangerous for horses and riders alike. Everything becomes really hard work.
With a little planning you can keep safe and ensure that your yard does not become a no-go area.
Clearing the Snow
Depending on where you are, many years may pass without you seeing any snow. But when the white stuff does fall you should get busy clearing the paths to the stable. The snow should be cleared at the first opportunity because as soon as you or anyone else starts to walk in the snow, it will start turning to ice and form serious slip hazards. Nobody relishes getting their shovels out but a little effort will save a lot of trouble later on.
When you have cleared as much of the snow as you can you should then grit and salt the paths and the yard. Keep grit on hand because a severe snow fall will see everyone rushing out to buy it and supplies can quickly run low. Grit will keep for years and you will always use it eventually.
Protect Your Water Supply
Frozen water pipes are a nightmare anywhere and will cause serious disruption at your yard. All pipes should be well-insulated and, in the colder months, hoses should be drained and stored after use to prevent them freezing overnight. If you know that your pipes are problematic, then fill containers with water and store them indoors overnight so there will always be water for the horses.
Break the ice on water troughs at least once every day. Placing plastic balls in troughs and containers will prevent them from completely freezing over. Your horses may be reluctant to drink really cold water and so you may have to heat some up and add this to their buckets to help them out.
If at all possible, keep turning your horses out. They will not enjoy changes to their routines and most will want to spend time in the field. But check your land for hazards. Snow can cause branches to fall and there could be patches of ice that you will have to cover. You will also need to ensure that you can reach your horses when they are in the field so it can help to leave a supply of hay near the field just in case you need it.
If the snow is simply too deep for the horses, make sure they do get to stretch their legs and walk about otherwise they will get really restless. Even a leading them around the yard for a few minutes will help.
Fresh powdery snow is great to ride on but will soon compact on the horses’ feet. You can prevent the snow balling up and causing issues for the horses by applying Vaseline to their hooves. It is also possible to invest in snow pads which are fitted under the shoe, but these are only a sensible investment if you experience regular snowfall. You should always remain cautious and it is best to ride only on paths that you are familiar with because it is important to know what is underneath the snow.
Sometimes you may have to accept that it isn’t sensible to ride out. If the conditions are hazardous then don’t take any risks.