It’s wintertime, and the cold weather is upon us, at least for the coming months. You’ve probably been busy riding as long as you can, and now it’s time to look inside at your stable and where your horse lives. Winter is a great time for renovations to make sure you and your horse are as comfortable as possible and that you get the most out of your stable area.
But what renovations are right for you? Well, that depends a lot on where you live, how you ride, and what you can afford. Much like renovating a home, there are a lot of decisions you need to make ahead of time.
Before you get started though, make sure that your stable is winterized and that you have the basics of maintenance covered. It’s no good to start a huge remodeling project only to find that your roof needs repairs or you don’t have enough feed laid up for the cold months ahead.
Once you are ready, here are some of the projects you might want to undertake for the coming year.
Your stable probably already has running water, whether that is from a well or local lines if they are available. This is part of making sure that your horse always has fresh and clean water, especially in the winter, when dehydration can be a problem.
You probably also have a water heater, but if you don’t, this should be one of the first steps in winterizing your stable. It keeps drinking water from freezing, but it can also be a great asset to cleaning up for you and your horse.
One of the best renovations you can do is to add an outdoor shower for you, your horse, or one that can be used by both. This allows you to clean up thoroughly before heading back to the house, especially if you have been mucking out stalls or performing other messy chores. It can also serve as a great way to bathe your horse, a good bonding time for both of you.
Be careful of bathing your horse in the winter though, even if you have a water heater, unless your barn is also climate controlled.
Green Energy and HVAC Systems
If you do not have an HVAC system in your stable already, you may want to schedule a consultation with a professional to see if it is viable for your situation. If you live in a hotter climate or have colder winters, installing an HVAC system can make things go smoother all year long. The question becomes if it is both affordable and practical for you. This depends in part on how well insulated your stable is along with what your power source is.
A recent study recommends HVAC systems for stables if they are affordable. Of course, an HVAC system can potentially consume a lot of power, and you may need to upgrade your electrical circuit panels to handle it. This is one of the things a professional can advise you on. The other consideration is how much impact an HVAC system in your stable will have on the environment.
Considering solar or wind power can make this renovation more expensive initially, but it can save you significant amounts of money in the long run. Lights, your water heater, and other electrical items can also run on alternative green energy sources. This can make your whole operation less expensive along with being eco-friendly.
Well-lit areas that are heated and cooled and other renovations can also help take away the winter blues, both for you and your horse.
Socialization and Group Housing
Horses, just like people and other pets, are social creatures, and if they cannot see their neighbors or interact with them from time to time, they can get depressed. This socialization tends to happen a lot less in the winter than it does in the summer, and even in peak seasons, socialization is important.
Of course, this is easier when the horses can simply be put in a corral or pasture together, and then put to bed in their stables. But when temperatures or outside weather is too hostile, this can be a challenge. So what’s the solution?
Sometimes this is a simple matter of renovating your stable so there are more windows or lower walls on the stalls so that horses can see each other and interact. In other cases, an open communal housing area might be a better answer, and removing stall walls or completely changing the look and style of your stable might be best.
No matter what way you choose to go, a new study from Nottingham Trent University shows that if your horse is not socialized, especially with its stablemates, it can become lonely and stressed out. Besides a more communal living setting, inviting guests to your stable can also help your horse feel better and elevate its mood.
Winter is here, and it might be the best time for you to rethink your stable and how it is set up, and determine how you can make it more comfortable for both you and your horse. Improving their mood through socialization, the addition of HVAC powered by green energy, and adding places to clean up for both you and your horse can all help make this next year the best one yet.