Horses Need Help Underfoot In Icy Conditions

When icy conditions develop during the winter, people and their automobiles slip and slide. So do horses. In the January edition of The Horse, Fran Jurga writes that old carpets and rugs can help your equine charges avoid injury when the footing is dangerous.

Keep your eyes open on trash day, and you will find your town's streets lined with old carpets that are being thrown out. Stash them in the back of your truck and drive quickly to your barn.

You might store them in a horse trailer not often used, or in a shed, since they might smell bad or be flea-filled and dirty. Then, when a bad ice storm hits suddenly and you need to get a horse across a frozen parking lot, those old carpets can come in handy. They need to be used safely- check the backing; position them so they won't slip; and use common sense. If you never need them to provide a safe walkway for your horse, you might find yourself cutting them into strips when a car gets stuck in the mud or snow.

Of course, trailer or stall mats are the ideal man-made bridge over ice, but you can make do with your own improvisations. If you live in an industrial area, find out if old conveyor belts and other types of industrial belting are available from companies. Cut and laid flat, belting looks for all the world like a continuous stall mat. Other sources include restaurants, which use chef's mats in the kitchen to cushion workers' feet.

Don't leave mats out all winter. Once they are frozen into the ground, they will be useless for providing safe footing for your horse. Worse yet, they are impossible to move and might not be useable when spring comes.