We all love the Christmas and New Years lights and decorations! Many people love to decorate their barns, too, and if you’re loving the look, go for it! But here are a few safety tips.
No electric anything around horses… strings of lights are a real no-no if an animal can reach them anywhere inside a barn. They’re cute and fun and but not safe around animals. Stay away from tinsel, mistletoe, and keep the evergreens away from the horse’s stall doors, too – they’re all bad for digestion – and mistletoe and poinsettias are both toxic to horses. So that’s for the no-no’s.
Outdoor-appropriate lights are great for the outside or front of the barn or farm as long as you’ve got the proper extension cords and outlets, and all wires are away from where a horse would be kept, or exercised. Watch the big inflatable decorative snowmen or holiday pieces – they can terrify a horse if the wind gets them blowing back and forth!
Here’s the fun stuff to use – apples, carrots, fill stockings with goodies and treats, and thinking of hanging the stockings near the tack room all together or at the barn entrance rather than on stall doors where they can reached by busy mouths.
If you hang decorations, make sure they are properly fixed to avoid swinging in barn aisle breezes or getting loose and flopping to scare a horse that is being walked or standing in the aisle. Decorations should be hung high to be safe and firmly attached.
Live greens should not be used where horses can reach them with their mouths. Garlands should not be wound around stall bars – horses can nibble and pull them through and injest the small tinsel pieces. Instead, perhaps use felt decorator pieces on stall walls or barn wall spaces. Pick a good spot where breezes won’t be requiring you to constantly re-attach the decor, or consider a solid decoration like a wire wreath for the barn entrance.
We decorate the tack room and equipment room, taking care to keep anything flammable away from light fixtures and outlets. There are plenty of synthetic garlands and decor that is relatively safe to use around the barn. We pretty much keep decor away from stall doors, as our horses can reach out of them; if you have a barn with doors that limit the horses’ access, decorating is often fun and easy as long as you use proper fasteners. It’s probably best to use a good sticky tape or adhesive, rather than staples or pushpins. They can come loose as the door is open and shut, and end up in the bedding or aisle and get stepped on.
As far as giving to others at your barn, we’ve always followed a policy of giving cards with heartfelt messages rather than gifts or expensive items. As a barn owner, having a lovely card with a handwritten message is a precious gift which we enjoy receiving, and we also give cards to our friends from horses and barn to let them know how much we appreciated their friendship over the year. (But my S.O. loves the hot mustard and beefstick!)
Why not post your barn decor pictures here? We’d love to see them!