Accident proofing your barn is one task that should be done every season, and the time it makes most sense to tidy up and get everything in order is between seasons. You are already getting rid of stuff you don’t need, and you are in the mindset to get stuff done! Keep reading to get some ideas about how to maintain your own barn!
Every day while you are completing barn chores and feeding what seems to be an endless supply of mouths, take notice of the condition of the barn. Has that gray gelding been chewing a hole through the top of his wooden door? Has one of the bucket snaps gone MIA? Has the pony scratched his hind end on the door just aggressively enough that the lock no longer lines up with the latch? Are there rough spots where there is hair left behind? Has anyone been trying to come in for afternoon feedings while wearing flip flops or open-toe shoes (TIP: if you want to keep all of your toes, wear closed-toe shoes at all times around horses) All of these issues need to be dealt with before the new season arrives.
Keep pathways clear and clutter-free. There is no shame like tripping over the wheelbarrow when you walk out of the feed room while texting or listening to music (leave the headphones at home when you are around horses). Tack trunks with sharp edges left unattended in the aisle can cause cuts on legs, and halters attached to lead ropes loosely tied or hanging on the floor can cause big issues when a horse sticks his leg through in a panic situation. A clean barn aisle is a safe barn aisle.
Have you noticed the lock on the pony’s door has seen better days? While it may be easier to deal with it later, getting new locks (if yours are damaged or rusty) can help keep everyone in their stalls and extend the life of your barn. Also, make sure to check the hardware on the barn doors that open up the barn and allow people to enter. Those are opened more frequently than stall doors and are more exposed to the elements.
Has that nail that was sticking out just a little bit a few months ago become a full-on stall weapon? Do you make a mental note to avoid it when walking close to that side of the stall in fear that you will get stabbed and develop tetanus? Make sure to tidy up the stall of any possibly dangerous materials that even though small, could cause damage to your horse. Periodically take a hammer around with you to drive in any nails that are sticking out and use screws in their place when possible! Check high up and down low (especially for those who have ponies and miniature horses)! Are there slack cords from the box fan out and in view of the horse? This could become dangerous if a horse decides that cord may make a good snack. Make sure to hide them or tuck them. Cutting PVC pipe in half the length of the cord can help to get it out of reach when secured firmly over the cord.
Are all of the barn lights in working order? Is that one wonky bathroom light still blinking whenever you turn the sink on? Is that one end of the aisle still avoided because the lights are out and there are no horses currently kept in the stalls? Having a clear view of all parts of the barn is very important. Knowing where the horses are and where the people are can be the difference between life and death should an emergency or barn fire occur.
Speaking of barn fires, does your barn have a fire evacuation plan? While it is nice to believe that you have everything in place should there be an emergency, having an actual drawn up or typed out emergency plan can save lives.
The barn manager may know what to do in case of a fire and where to take the horses, but the new boarder that just moved her horse in would have no clue if there wasn’t a plan laid out and visible. Speak with your local fire department to create an escape plan and then laminate it and put it in a very visual place. Laminating this will prevent it from getting weak over time from moisture and helps it repel stains easier. Better yet, print out a small copy of the plan and give it to each boarder to keep in their horse’s first aid kit with his coggins (in case he needs to be hauled somewhere) and the number to the veterinarian. Make sure there is at least one working fire extinguisher in each barn. This needs to be serviced appropriately to keep it in good working order.
One of the best ways to keep your horses in good health is by making sure they are kept in a safe environment. This also means keeping the environment safe for everyone else! If you have an equine emergency, whether it is just something that is bothering you that your horse is doing or a full blown colic, give us a call at 336-349-4080! We have a veterinarian on call for emergencies every hour, of every day! If calling after hours, when you get to the machine, press 0 instead of leaving a message. This will transfer you to the vet on call!