8 tips for preparing your stables for winter

8 tips for preparing your stables for winter
8 tips for preparing your stables for winter

8 tips for preparing your stables for winter

We understand that the majority of horse owners don’t look forward to the approach of winter, but you can take steps to make the season less stressful for you and your horse.


Prevent Water from Freezing

There are a few different options when looking at the heating of your water and this is all dependent on your budget. If you have a large budget, you can invest in submersible tank heaters for your water troughs. Insulated troughs are also available.


If this is not doable a cheaper alternative would be to simply leave a football floating in the trough. It may not heat the water to a nice temperature for your horse but at the very least it will stop ice from forming in all but the harshest conditions.


Arena Maintenance

Arena Maintenance is caring for your surface. You spend a lot of time and money caring for your horse and you need to do the same for your arena to prevent injury to your horse and all that hard work down the drain. Doing lots of little things consistently will prevent you from having to do major, expensive things in the long run.


Arena Maintenance includes keeping the surface level and consistent through regular grooming or dragging, water application, ensuring proper drainage and toping up your ocean shell surface as needed. 


If you live in a particularly cold area of NZ prone to frost and snow you may want to consider the drainage of your arena. Water that’s trapped in the arena surface material will freeze solid, leaving you with an unusable arena. A compacted surface will prevent water from draining freely, so be sure to harrow your arena the day before, ideally as the frost is catching. This will ensure your sub surface is draining properly.

Flood Prevention

Pools of water create soft spots. Aside from affecting ride quality, they will also ultimately lead to failure of the surface and its sub-layers. You will eventually end up with patches containing a porridge of all the layers you had lovingly (and expensively) trucked in and used on your arena. The one thing you don’t want is water pooling on your arena.

Flooded paddocks are a familiar problem faced by horse owners every winter. If your fields don’t drain properly, you’ll be left with a sea of mud and its incumbent problems, including mud fever and lost shoes.


There are a few steps you can take to prevent your paddocks from becoming waterlogged:
  •  Clearing out all drainage ditches
  • Adequate surface drainage
  • Unblocking any culverts or pipes  
  • Increasing the outflow and preventing the inflow 
  • Changing the system of irrigation 
  • Pumping out surplus water 
  • Prevention of seepage from the reservoir
  • Minimise compaction

Field Maintenance

At the end of summer, there are usually areas of your paddocks that are compacted and lacking in grass, especially around gateways.

Harrow and roll the turnout paddocks particularly gateways so the ground will be level
when the frost comes. Frozen poached areas can injure your horse and yourself. Just bear in minds that
rolling in wet conditions will compact soil and potentially undo the benefits of harrowing.



Mud Prevention and Management

Prevention is better than cure. So, if possible, rotate your grazing during the fall so that your fields have a good covering of grass before the winter sets in.


Paddock rotation is also a useful mud prevention tactic to use during the winter months.


During periods of very wet weather, you may need to restrict turnout to a couple of hours each day. That’s long enough for the horses to enjoy a leg stretch and a nibble of grass and means that you won’t end up with bored, wet horses hanging around in the gateway and contributing to the mud problem.


If possible, turn your horses out after they’ve been exercised so that they’re less likely to gallop around and tear up the field.


If you have horses that are prone to mud fever during the winter, replenish your supplies of antibacterial leg wash and barrier creams.

Stable Checks

Towards the end of the summer, you should carry out a few maintenance checks on your stables and outbuildings before winter sets in.


  • Make sure that roofs are in good repair with no missing slates or torn underfelt.
  • Check all the catches, hinges and kick over bolts on the stable doors,
    secure loose screws and lubricate.
  • Check all electric wiring for any vermin damage – Tape up secure or replace.
  • Woodwork should be treated with waterproofing every two years.
  • Clear out gutters and yard drains that are blocked.

Rug Repairs and Cleaning

Take a close look at all your rugs to make sure that there are no tears, missing buckles, or rodent damage. Have any repairs attended to, and arrange for all your rugs to be cleaned ready for the winter months.

Animal Bedding for the Wet Months

Animal bedding is a cost-effective alternative that is highly absorbent and composts well. Wholesale Landscapes offers a range of animal bedding to suit the needs of your horse. One of the health benefits being that it is very low in dust, a concern if either you or your horse have respiratory issues.


Give your horse, arena and stables a bit of love and care and you may prevent injuries during winter.

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