Skip to content

Winter Horse Chores

I am already sick of winter and it hasn’t even officially started yet. But every time I complain, I hear about someone else who has it worse. I was whining to a Canadian horse breeder the other day about our single digit temps and high winds and she wrote back to say it was 30 below and a blizzard at her ranch in Alberta. Yep, someone’s always got it worse than you.

I spent half the day thawing out frozen waterers; at least three out of four are working now, so it wasn’t a total waste of time. Keeping horses in sub-zero weather is quite a bit of hassle. It’s a lot of work just feeding and cleaning; dealing with snow drifts and frozen buckets is the pits. I’ve been doing it here in the Colorado mountains for 25 winters; 15 winters here in the “Banana belt” of Colorado, the Upper Arkansas Valley. When it’s 25 below in the Gunnison valley, it may only be zero in our valley. It’s all about your perspective.

In the winter we whine tremendously about our high-maintenance automatic waterers. Meanwhile Melissa (who grooms/exercises our horses and lives nearby) is hauling water from her home a mile down the road to her four horses. Yuck. I did that one winter 25 years ago and swore never to have horses again if I had to haul water to them. Even for one horse, it’s a pain. Have any of you been through that? What’s your most dreaded winter-time chore? Maybe draining hoses (or unfreezing them because someone else didn’t)?

I’ve had more than my fair share of my perspective thrown in my face the last few months and I have to say, it is always good to gain perspective on your reality. And that which does not kill you makes you stronger, so they say.

Enjoy the ride,





Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:
You Might Also Like...


  1. Julie, have you every heard of burying a barrel or bucket under your automatic horse waterers? The guy that we had install ours for us dug the hole then he and my husband cut the end off of a plastic barrel that we had received some farm chemical in (barrel was clean obviously)and put that around the waterline before covering everything up. This barrel acts as a sifon or funnel for heat from the ground. We put the waterers in just before the bad weather hit. This past week we had a low of -22 degrees (that doesn’t include windchill) and both waterers stayed open. The snow that fell (and blew) on them actually melted away even. You probably don’t want to dig up and re-do all of your waterers but if you have any that you want to replace this might be something to consider. The guy that did our waterers for us also hardwired a couple of tank heaters inside of the waterers. We can turn these off and on by flipping a switch so when the wind chill gets down there we can add some extra heat. If I can remember I’ll bring this up at the Nebraska Horse Expo in case you’re interested. My husband, Paul, will be better able to explain the how’s and why’s. We’ve had 3 major snow storms in the last month and they say there’s one more big one coming the end of January. As miserable as we are I’m sure the horses are just as. They like to run around and buck and kick and that’s just not possible for them right now as under the snow is a layer of ice. There’s no where for them to go and we don’t want to haul them on slick roads. Many county roads are still impassable and you just don’t know what road you’ll head down and not be able to get through…don’t even want to try with a horse trailer in tow. We spend as much time with our horses as we can. The highs around here have been single digits and teens. It got up to 25 yesterday. Felt like a heat wave. 🙂 The barn isn’t heated but the tack room is so we spend time grooming a horse and then before we get the next one out we warm up a bit in the tack room. The horses enjoy the extra attention and it helps remind them of their manners. Catch you at the Nebraska Horse Expo in March. Can’t wait!

  2. I have to agree frozen water hoses and water troughs is no fun matter. However, the worst I think is having to watch yourself on ice; I always manage to find that one icy spot and I end up flat on my rear, wheel barrow dumped over and feeling a bruise coming on. Also cannot forget cold finger tips to the point you have to jump in your vehicle to get them to warm up. A tip do not run warm/hot water over frozen digits, for one it hurts a lot, and second it doesn’t allow your nerves and skin to warm up naturally; which can cause damage in some cases. My thoughts as we come into the New Year with Stock Show right around the corner, the one event I look forward to all year.

  3. Shoot-up about Winter 🙂 … make it sound as you love it or else load up the trailer and come to Florida … like some people!
    Here is an image to paint the inside of your barn with; December 18, the weather is in the 80’s, green everywhere. During the day home hunting for a horse property and after 4pm the heat mellows out and I’m going ridding through some pristine surroundings a zoo and botanical garden in one (six thousand acre farm with no one around). A new Wade saddle, and a braided headstalls, recently I became an admirer of braided artworks.
    I bought a new bit a Francois Gautier Antique and can hardly seat and usually awake at 3 in the morning waiting for the roosters to wakeup horses and ready to saddle up, as if it were my first time on a horse. I’m having a grad time!
    That’s now!
    Back, not too long ago working in New York’s Wall Street office I use to curse for not being brave enough or ready to pick up my bootstraps and head for the horse country. I think I did that for about nine winters…
    Now I’m having a blast… I know you can sense it.
    Winter! If you say that again you’re a… I’ll think of something repulsive 🙂

  4. Draining hoses and keeping stock tank heaters running is always a challenge, but fixing fence is right up there on my list of “aw, seriously?!” wintertime chores. It is no fun trudging through snow drifts to check for shorts in the electric fence when the temps are at or below zero and the wind is howling!!

  5. After careful consideration I’ve concluded my least fave part of winter chores is having to shovel a path for the wheelbarrow from the barn door to the manure pile before getting started cleaning stalls. Just seems like a little too much!

  6. We live very close to the Southern Colorado border and it’s been sub-zero here… Draining hoses, chopping ice, picking ice out of feet, feeding plenty of hay (talk about hyper horses; all 3 of mine are over 15 and they’re frisky)… Winter is here 🙂

  7. Hi Julie,

    Why don’t you move somewhere else? Thanks to twitter, I am finding out stories like yours and others that see weather and temperature colder than 40 degrees. I live in Florida and I haven’t seen anything colder than 20 degrees. I hope you stay warm. Thanks again for your stories, I dream of a White Christmas one day.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *