Welcome to the dead of winter. Even parts of the country that don’t usually experience snow are getting a healthy dose right now.  Last week the New York Times reported that 49 out of  50 U.S. states had snow (Florida remained the Sunshine State!) Even when we as horse owners have done our best to prep for winter with heated water buckets, frost-free hydrants, weather-proof turnout blankets and the right equipment for chores there always seems to be at least a storm or two (or three) that wreaks havoc on our normal horse care routine for days on end, stretching into weeks for the unfortunate. 

When winter pounds on the barn door, our horses still need to be fed and watered in a timely manner and stalls need to be cleaned daily. But paddocks, too, need to be cleaned daily. The more frequently you clean the easier it all will be in the end. Hunting for manure in two feet of snow or chipping it loose from blocks of ice is no fun.  My best advice is that the show still needs to go on; all the manure that you don’t pick up now becomes a pulverized a layer of muck once things thaws out again.

How do you deal with cleaning paddocks in this kind of weather? Have you developed any special tricks or techniques to get stalls and paddocks picked up and chores accomplished? Share your secrets with your fellow winterizing horse owners!

Some of the winter manure management tools we’ve employed at our farms include a straight-edge metal garden shovel or spade which works well for breaking frozen manure balls loose. In these times we often use a garden fork instead of a plastic manure fork which can break when forced. Additionally, we find that wooden handled tools are much easier to grip in winter Ð and are warmer, too.

As far as good deals for purchasing them, shop around on the Internet. Believe it or not, even garden tools can be purchased at reduced rates new or used on the Internet. Check places like Craigslist for even better deals.

Having the right winter weather tools not only makes horse life more efficient but it insures that you’ll be more likely to get those chores accomplished when it’s dark, cold, snowy or icy.