It's been a long, hard winter. High winds, excessive snow, rain, ice and flooding have taken their toll on whole communities, including our farms and stables. What are some things to look for when evaluating the safety and sturdiness of your barn for the rest of the year.
- Have the wind or ice dumped tree branches on or around your barn? These branches are a danger not only now, but in the summer when dry conditions can makes branches instant fire-starters. Clear debris, combustible material and weeds at least 30 feet from structures for fire protection?
- Check barn structure. Is there damage to posts, beams or walls? Is the roof in good condition? End doors and paddock windows? These are key components to keeping your barn strong so repair or replace these as soon as possible.
- Are the outside electrical outlets and switches safe to use? Water and electricity never mix and can cause shock or fire. In the future, consider waterproof covers for electric outlets.
- Inspect all wiring. Older wiring may have damage from weather or rodents looking for a dry place to hand out. .
- Check all electrical cords. Appliances and equipment should be unplugged when not in use.
- Barn aisles are a common place to store things when bad weather causes havoc. Are you storing hay, farm equipment or jumps in the aisles? Make sure you clear aisles of unnecessary items. Any items remaining stored in the aisles should be placed on hooks high enough that a panicked horse will not injure himself. Tack boxes and other items on the floor should not prevent stall doors from opening.
- Daily barn cleaning may have gone by the wayside during stormy weather. Now's a good time to check if there are cobwebs and dust accumulating behind refrigerators and other appliance, around lights, near electrical sources. If so, clean the area.
- Horses stuck inside for extended periods of time can find destroying their stalls a great way to pass the time. Also, horses afraid of thunder or strong wind can panic and break stall items. It's a good idea to:
- Check stalls for damage to wood surfaces, broken or cracked feeders, protruding nails.
- Check the floor for damage or uneven surfaces, especially if you use dirt stalls.
- Look around the bottom of stalls for areas that may be hazardous when a horse rolls.
- Check latches and door knobs. Are they in good working order? Do they pose a hazard? Will tack or horses be hung up on them?
- Check floors for standing water, slick surfaces and uneven areas. Are your water pipes in good order? Freezing conditions can cause floors to "heave" up and become uneven.
- Check your tack room to be sure that water isn't dripping from a missing roof tile onto someone's tack.
- Your arena(s) should be checked for the same things are your barn - broken posts, damaged wiring, uneven footing and other safety issues.
- Don't forget to check your fencing all around your stable for loose or broken boards.
If you love your barn and your damage isn't great, you should be able to be back to normal with alot of good riding time left. However, if the damage is too great, now may be a good time to consider a new or renovated barn. We'll try to give you helpful hints for that in the next blog.
photo credits: photography blogger, wick buildings