Winter Cleaning

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Our horses go out every day. I mean every day. No matter the weather, they're outside for as many hours as possible, but never overnight. In our area, we simply don't think that's a wise option.

In the spring, daytime turnout hours are limited by the lush, fast-growing grass. Thankfully, we don't have any insulin-resistant horses, but the possibility is there. Two of our three mares can gain weight by looking at a green photo, so we restrict grass consumption. If our mares behave?as in don't reach over the fence to get the grass on the other side?they can spend part of the day still outside but not in the lush grazing areas.

In the summer, We've never brought them in due to heat, as tHere's enough shade for them and the barn is hot, too. (it's funny, but when Sally first arrived, she was alone on our farm, and she didn't have a clue about shade or licking salt blocks. The next horse, Bonnet, changed all that.)

This winter, we didn't get rough winter weather until about Christmas.? And, as they say, then it really hit. The frigid winds and damp snow made it impossible for the horses to stay out all day, unless I wanted to blanket them (I definitely didn't).? But I always remember that wind plus wet plus cold equals miserable horses.

With three horses in our small barn, it warms up quickly. that's good, but we also started to notice that it didn't smell fresh.

that's because the doors were closed most of the time due to the wind and snow. We couldn?t let the snow blow in on the barn aisle (too slippery), so we couldn?t do much of an airing out.

While we keep a pretty clean barn (We've been told you could eat off of the aisle), when I looked closely around, I noticed there was debris in corners of the stalls that hadn?t been swept out in awhile and that the hay room, feed room and storage area needed a good cleaning. I decided to sweep them all out, and that's how I found the source of the not-fresh smell. That meant, of course, that the horses were breathing in all that filth. I was horrified!

We've used odor-control products in our stalls, but we haven't much since we switched to bedding pellets. Like everyone else, we're rigid about cleaning stalls every day, as we all know that the ammonia smell from urine and manure can be bad for horses?even as a cause of ?heaves??but we sometimes don't think about barn dirt in general.

Well, I can tell you that sneaky debris can build up and cause some unfriendly barn air. After cleaning, I used some odor remover product in those rooms, and now the barn smells great?like healthy horses in the winter!

?Cynthia Foley, Editor-in-Chief