We all want the barn to be a comfortable and safe home for our horses. When thinking of the barn as your horse’s home, it is wise to consider that a large percentage of horse injuries happen while the horse is in the barn. Don't worry - you can prevent many of those by making sure your barn doesn't have items that are potentially harmful to your horse. Below I am going to share some common items in your barn that could potentially harm your horse!
Items In Your Barn That Could Harm Your Horse
As a horse enthusiast, I am concerned about the health and safety of all horses, and animals in general. While you may assume that a barn is a safe place for your horse, sometimes it actually isn't. There is so much to know about caring for horses before you make that leap, but you may have forgotten about basic barn safety.
Since safety is on the top of our list, I thought I would share some items that you may not think about being a hazard. These are everyday things that you may overlook, but that could be a source of an injury. Take note and keep your barn safe for all of your animals.
Open Feed Buckets
We've mentioned this before in our other list of things you don't want in your barn, but it's worth repeating. You may think it's no big deal, but an open feed container can bring about a number of issues. Sure, there is the thought of them getting into more and overeating, but it's more than that.
Open feed containers are a perfect spot for insects, rodents, and other critters to hide or make a nest. While it may seem obvious that you will have mice in a barn, it still isn't wise to just invite them in like that. Additionally, an open container can easily get moisture inside and suddenly you have moldy food. This can lead to making your horse ill but also wasting food that is expensive. It's an easy fix, so just keep the food stored in proper containers with lids and check it regularly.
I get it. After a long day out riding or just working around a farm or ranch, cleaning up your tack isn't always high on the priority list. But, what happens is that one day turns into ten, and suddenly you have mold, mildew, and who knows what growing on saddle pads or even on the saddle itself. It's just not a pretty thing.
What's a little mold going to do to your horse? While in some horses it could cause a skin reaction just from the mold, the real issue comes with the breakdown of the saddle or pads themselves. If they are not soft and pliable, they can cause severe irritation and even create a wound on your horse. One open wound can turn into several, and suddenly your horse can't be ridden and you are facing a hefty veterinarian bill. Clean your tack. It's just that important.
Stall Door Latches
Obviously stall door latches are important to ensure your horse stays inside and isn’t left to roam around. This is an obvious one on this list of things in your barn that might hurt your horse. They can certainly be an issue if not installed correctly. Be sure that your stall door latches are flush and smooth to prevent bruising or tearing of the skin when a horse rubs against a stall door.
Don't ignore them after they are installed. Wear and tear from opening and even the weight of a horse against them at times can warp or shift things. That means a nice flush latch that wouldn't be an issue last week could become an issue next month. Stay on top of the little things to prevent a bigger issue from occurring.
Metal Tack Racks
Metal tack racks are another common barn item that could harm a horse. Your horse could easily bump into a saddle rack, blanket bar, or bridle hook. Look for any sharp edges and consider placing tack racks away from the areas your horse can get to. Move anything metal that a horse may be able to reach over their stall door. If your tack racks are designed to fold down after use, be sure to fold them down when finished using them.
Metal is a good choice for many things in your barn, but when choosing something that could have sharp edges, make sure it is out of their reach. Scratches and cuts on your horse are expected. You can't keep them wrapped in a bubble for safety, but you can expect to do your best to prevent those things when possible.
Broken Grooming Tools
This one seems a bit odd along with some of the other items on this list, but these are the things that can be an unexpected issue. Tools break, and when you are already spending hundreds and thousands a month to maintain a barn with your horses, a little $5 item can occasionally be ignored. Here's the thing, a broken brush may not seem like much, but there are all kinds of ways it could be harmful.
A splintered wood, broken piece of plastic, or even damaged corners and edges can go from being irritating to being a festering wound if a horse steps on it or accidentally ingests something that fell on the ground. Of course, there is also the more mundane reason of worn down or old items just being painful on the horse when used. Broken skin or wounds from an old brush are a real thing and just shouldn't be an issue if you care for or replace items when needed.
Let's just take the time to replace these when they break, and to check out all items regularly so they are cleaned properly between use.
I have added extension cords to this list because I know this is often an item that is overlooked. Check your extension cords to be sure that they are not broken, and that the outer insulation is not missing. This can present a fire hazard especially considering that barns are usually made of wood and full of other flammable items such as hay and blankets. Use care to run extension cords away from the isle of the barn where your horse walks to prevent tripping or an injury from wrapping the cord around a hoof.
Broken Boards and Nails
Next on my list of items in your barn that could harm a horse is broken boards and nails. Take a minute to evaluate the state of your barn, are there any broken boards with sharp edges? Are there any nails or screws sticking out of boards?
Broken boards and nails can cause cuts and bruises when your horse rubs against them. If a board with a nail is left on the ground and your horse steps on it, that could cause hoof damage. To avoid these issues, take time to replace any broken boards, clean up after projects, and hammer or screw in nails and screws that aren’t flush.
Sometimes you find that perfect blanket or saddle pad. It fits right, it is the right texture, and you use it until it is truly falling apart. When it starts ripping, fraying, or tearing, as much as you love it, it's time to remove it from the barn and find something new.
Why is this an issue? Torn blankets are definitely a hazard for getting tangled or caught on hooves. This could result in falls or injuries that could put your horse on stall rest for a long period of time. Nobody wants that to happen over a ripped-up blanket.
Since some will argue that a blanket on your horse is a bad idea, I really recommend making that choice on your own and going over these dos and don'ts of blanketing for more safety tips. Here is a huge horse blanket guide that I find to be an excellent source for more information about fit and types of blankets.
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- Dancing at Liberty & Creating Connection with Your Horse (11 lessons) - Grey Pony Films
Finally, I will mention general clutter in your barn potentially causing harm to your horse. Prevent injuries to your horse’s hooves and legs by being sure that tools such as pitchfork, shovels, brooms, and rakes are stored off the floor and away from the barn aisle. Repair or replace any torn blankets, broken or dented feed buckets, and handles. Horses can injure their teeth and mouth on these items.
Hopefully, this list will help you recognize some potential problem spots in your own barn. With the weather getting nicer and the days getting longer, this is a great time to do an evaluation of your barn conditions, clean out a few items and make some updates! Most barns are a constant work in progress of repairs, rebuilding, and working to find the best solutions to fit your horse’s needs while protecting your horse from harm.