Tip #2 - Maintain a drinkable water supply for your horses
Horses are more likely to get behind on water consumption if the water is cold, and especially if there is ice in it. Keeping water ice-free, either by removing ice regularly or using heated buckets or other heating devices is key to ensuring an accessible water supply for your horses.
Check all of your water tank and pail heaters. Make sure they are working properly and that the electrical cords and plugs are in good shape. Use a unit specifically made for the size and shape of the tank. An improperly fitting heater may rest against tank walls and could melt a hole through the side or bottom of the tank. Check the water level daily to ensure the heater is submerged and working properly.
Basketballs or soccer balls left floating on the water's surface can be enough to keep water from freezing in regions that do not experience hard freezes.
Store any unused water tanks indoors, or inside of a horse trailer. If storage is not possible, at least turn them upside down
As most horse owners know, horses will more readily drink warm water when the weather is cold, and warm water is especially good for horses following exercise. Another way to make sure horse's are getting enough water is to soak the horse's feed or offer warm soaked bran mashes or beet pulp to sneak plenty of water into his diet. Of course, offering an ample supply of salt/minerals will also stimulate a horse to drink.
Consider investing in a generator. In the event of a power outage, barns relying on wells will not have water. Depending on the distance between the barn and the next available water supply it could be too far to transport water daily.
Insulate water hydrants and exposed pipes. Insulating tape can be purchased at most local hardware stores and is an inexpensive way to avoid frozen water supplies. Tank heaters for outdoor water troughs are also available at local farm supply stores. Purchase a heater designed for livestock tanks. Some heaters are only designed to bring water to a boil.
Know how to turn off the water supply to the barn. In the event that a pipe bursts, it is important to know how to shut off the main flow of water to avoid flooding.
Tip #3 - Make sure your horse gets the fresh air he needs
During winter weather, efficient barn ventilation should get rid of excess moisture, respiratory disease organisms, dust and waste gases. Obviously, when the air outside is cold and saturated with moisture it is difficult to keep a good atmosphere in the barn.
For a start to better ventilation, keep doors open provided this does not create a strong draft. After that, make sure there are no blockages in the existing ventilation inlet and outlets. If there is space boarding you could remove every second board or better still turn a space of boarding into a door with hinges that can be opened in calm conditions and closed in windy conditions.
It is important to get fresh air to the horse and eliminate stale air before it accumulates. Good ventilation is, ideally, designed into the original barn plans and takes advantage of wind, air currents, and thermal buoyancy.
Natural ventilation uses openings located along the side walls and the ridge and takes into consideration the topography and how the barn is situated in relationship to its surroundings.
According to veterinarians, horses are most comfortable in temperatures ranging from 45 to 75 degrees F (7 to 24 degrees C). Horses tolerate cold very well and adapt to cold breezes when housed outside. During winter, horse barns should be kept no more than 5 to 10 degrees F (3 to 6 degrees C) warmer than outside temperatures.
Tightly closing the barn by closing all windows, doors, and fresh-air inlets is a mistake when it comes to your horse's health. If condensation can be seen on interior surfaces during cold weather, the barn does not have sufficient ventilation for good horse health.
As air heats it can carry more moisture so the greater the temperature difference between the inside and outside the better the air movement and exchange of moisture needs to be.
During the cold season, ventilation goals change from heat removal to controlling moisture, odor, ammonia, and pathogen viability. Having doors at each end of the barn that can be opened to provide maximum air circulation during cold months helps keep the barn filled with fresh air. For maximum efficiency, the airflow should include the stable area.
Checking the air quality near the floor in stalls is very important, especially for the well-being of foals or when horses eat at floor level. Dust, bedding, manure, and urine can create stuffy conditions at ground level even before they become noticeable to someone walking through the area.