As winter continues to freeze the ground and cool the environment, you may be tempted to cover your horse with a cozy blanket and keep him on a heated barn all throughout the season – but don’t. Your horse is better off without you pampering him too much. Of course, it also doesn’t mean that you need to leave him out in the cold and leave him be until spring comes.
It is common sense to keep your horse healthy all through the season and it is a smart move to avoid the following health care mistakes during winter months:
1. Depriving him of exercise
- Horses need exercise, too and they need it all year – even when it gets really cold outside. This means you can continue on riding your horse during winter. If winter is too harsh, making riding impossible, you may turn out your horse in a paddock.
2. Overtasking a feeble horse
- Overtasking your horse during colder seasons makes him prone to injuries. If you plan a riding schedule based on the weather conditions, assign lighter tasks. You can gradually make him take heavier tasks as he improves his capabilities
3. Letting him drink frozen water
- Horses need water to drink, and in winter it means clean and unfrozen. Snow and ice will never replace the value of water. Dehydration is still a risk if your horse doesn’t get access to clean, unfrozen water. If you are situated in regions that experience freezing temperatures, you might want to invest on heating devices for troughs
4. Giving too less of his feed when temperatures drop
- Discuss with your veterinarian about your horse’s feeding regimen over winter. A horse tends to burn more calories during very cold months to sustain warmth. For some, weight loss may result. If your horse does not receive enough calories, you may want to increase his feed rations as temperatures get colder. Hay is an excellent source of calories and the process of digesting it also provides warmth for the horse.
5. Keeping a horse locked indoors
- Horses are better off if allowed outdoors during winter but with certain precautions. Horses should be sheltered from harsh weather elements. You need to have roofing with three sides to protect your horse from wind and snow. If your horse does stay indoors, turn him out during the day and only keep him inside at night, without closing your barn to ensure proper air ventilation inside.
6. Skipping on hoof care and grooming
- Horse owners usually ask their farriers to work on their horse’s hooves before winter months. Horses need regular hoof care every 6-8 weeks, whether they are shod or barefoot, or whether they are always ridden or not. The season does not matter – hoof care is a must. Regular grooming is also necessary to help you check your horse for illness, injuries, or infections that could possibly be present.
7. Covering him with too much blankets
- As you sit by the fire warming yourself up inside your cozy home, you can’t help but feel sorry for your horse who’s out in the cold. To ease your guilt, you grab as much of your blankets and pile it on him. You might want to slow down a bit right there! A horse with trimmed haircoat may need blankets over winter whether he stays indoors or outdoors. But, if your horse has grown his naturally thick haircoat, blankets are not necessary so long as your horse is protected from the elements, gets the right amount of feed, and is in good condition. Over blanketing your horse could cause him to overeat then dehydrate.
8. Leaving him outside the pasture without a care
- It may get really cold outside in winter and other people are taking their breaks, but as a horseman, you still need to get yourself busy with your horse. Keep up on your daily horsekeeping routine even when the cold weather tempts you to sleep off the whole day.