The advantages of mobile shelters and stables are many. And the benefits are felt none more so than during the harsh winter weather.
Areas of land can become damaged, unusable and even dangerous for horses to roam on.
But what are the key weather conditions to be aware of and how do you negate the risks?
Drop in temperature
Freezing temperatures commonly lead to frost and hard ground across large areas of your field. This can be particularly dangerous to your animals if the frost follows a period of heavy rain. Ground outside shelter entrances has a habit of poaching and this can result in large, hard craters forming. The area becomes increasingly difficult for horses to navigate safely and they can easily slip or turn an ankle.
If you notice your shelters/stables are sitting in areas of poached ground, consider moving them to a flatter area before the frost draws in.
If your field lies close to a river or at the base of a valley/slope, heavy rain can pose a significant risk. Literally overnight, your land can be turned into a swimming pool, and you’ll want to get your animals somewhere high and dry before the problems begin. Check the weather forecast regularly and try to relocate your shelter in advance.
Even moderate rain can cause a problem. Poaching of the ground is common where excess water resides and this can make shelter entrances slippery and dangerous. If you need access to the buildings to change bedding, maintain feed etc it can also be an extremely unpleasant experience for you.
To avoid this, move your shelters frequently to give areas a rest and the opportunity to dry out. You can then harrow/roll the land and move the shelters back and forth on rotation if needed.
The strong winds of winter have been known to pickup field shelters and violently throw them across a field. This poses an obvious risk to your animals, surrounding buildings and you!
If winds are starting to pick up, consider turning the shelter around so the entrance isn’t facing into it or moving it to a more sheltered part of the field. You can also try using ground bolts to secure it, or if the ground is too hard, you can create a wind break using hay bales.
Throughout winter, it is important that you can regularly access your stabling/shelter site to top up feed and water. Due to the frozen/parched land, your animals need to eat and drink more to maintain weight and stay suitably hydrated.
Because you’ll need to spend more time onsite, you’ll want to make sure you can easily access your horse’s stabling regardless of the weather. If your stabling/shelters are located in the far corner of the field, consider bringing them closer to home/resources to make regular maintenance easier.
With a little forward thinking and planning, you can make sure winter passes without a hitch.