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Spring Barn and Grazing Management

When winter finally releases its tenacious grip in Wisconsin, horse owners often want to jump right into the saddle and hit the trail!

It’s helpful to slow down and realize that the transition between seasons is a perfect time to do some spring cleaning around the barn, check your tack and medical supplies, and to take stock of the pastures.

Here are a few spring “honey-do-list” candidates to consider:

Take a look around the barn!

Clean and disinfect water buckets, feed buckets, and every utensil used for feeding and watering during the winter months. Have you seen the winter grime on your water buckets?

Rodents love living in cozy barns during Wisconsin winters. It’s time to sweep out the feed and tack rooms to get rid of their “calling cards.”

Spring is a great time to deep-clean stalls. Weather permitting, turn the horses out for longer periods of time and get after it! Not only will this improve your horse’s health, but it will also decrease your weekly stall cleaning time and effort.

Update and replace any barn cleaning tools that may not have survived the winter. Tines break. Wheelbarrow wheels go flat. Investing the time now to repair or replace these items will save you oodles of time this summer when you’d rather be riding.

Check your stall mats or pads. Winter can be hard on them. They should be replaced if they are badly worn or have splits that leave sharp edges.

Have you considered ditching the broom and investing in a good shop vac and leaf blower? Use the shop vac on floors, walls, over-head bins, etc to get rid of cobwebs, dust, dirt, and other small pieces of unknown debris. The leaf blower makes cleaning walkways, gutters, and aisles much easier!

Take stock of your horse’s health and wellness needs!

First stop: the barn first aid kit! Make sure these supplies are not expired, and make sure all of items that were raided have been replaced. Are there any updates you need to make? Spring is a great time to do just that.

Check the dates on any pharmaceuticals to make sure nothing has expired.

Make sure you have enough vet wrap on hand for at least two emergencies. Mice like to chew into vet wrap over the winter and decorate their nests with it!

Is the health binder for each horse up-to-date? Do you have your vet’s phone number and after-hours emergency protocol inside your binder or first aid kit? Dr. Suzanne has created some very helpful forms that you can print and insert into your horse’s health binder. Click here to access them.

Do you have a halter and lead rope hanging on each stall door? If not, now would be a great time to get that done. It saves a trip to the tack room in an emergency when every second counts!

Get your tack ready! Replace worn items. Worn and damaged tack can be uncomfortable for horse and rider, but it can also become a huge safety risk! Repair any issues you may find. Clean everything! While you’re at it, clean the tack room!

Spring Grazing Management and Strategy

Yep, lush green pastures are pleasing to the eye… and they definitely make your horse’s mouth water!

But before you turn your horses out onto a new pasture, it’s a good idea to have your pasture grazing management strategy firmly in place.

Green grass is the best food for your horse: it’s what his body was made to eat. The more a horse is out on pasture instead of in his stall, the healthier he is. However, the threat of laminitis or colic due to your horse over-consuming rich Spring pasture grass that is nutrient-dense and packed with sugars is very real.

During your horse’s spring wellness check, we can discuss whether your horse’s pasture consumption needs to be limited based on your horse’s weight and body condition score (BCS). We can also assess her risk for conditions like equine metabolic syndrome or Cushing’s disease.

Limiting consumption can be as simple as only allowing him to graze on pasture a few hours each day in early spring and then moving him to a dry lot area. Or, you can fit her with a grazing muzzle to restrict her intake during turnout. Then it’s a matter of slowing increasing her access to pastures every week.

You’ll find more information on horse nutrition in “Horse Nutrition is NOT One-Size-Fits-All”. Click here for a link to that article.

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