Winter is just around the corner and for horse owners it only means doing preparations for the coming cold weather to ensure that your horse and the entire barn are ready to deal with extreme weather conditions.
What You Can Do for the Upcoming Winter
Fall is the best time for you to make your barn “winter-proof” and your horse ready to take on the season. It would be high time for you to give more attention to your horse, to horse care, and barn and pasture management. Cleaning your barn, checking if insulation is working well, checking for proper ventilation, checking heaters and ensuring electrical systems are in great condition, along with stocking up hay and feed, are just some of the many things to consider.
- When preparing for the coming winter, you have to think about stocking up on the beddings and feed. Winter weather brings unexpected closing of roads, which only means it would stop you from visiting your local feed supply shop. Stock the feed and other barn supplies so they can last for about 3-4 weeks.
- Growing season also ends come winter. Rains may fall over autumn that allow grasses to grow, but soon enough the pasture will wither and will become unsuitable for grazing. For this reason, it is important to make sure that you have stored enough hay for winter as hay can be expensive and more difficult to find during this season.
- Giving sufficient or even extra hay helps the horse stay warm, since digestion of feed releases body heat.
- It is best to consult your veterinarian for a proper diet for colder months.
- Prepare blankets for your horses. Normally, a horse adapts well to low temperatures as they have the ability to grow a hair coat perfect for insulation. So long as the horse is adequately sheltered from wind and rain and receive sufficient calories in their diet, they can tolerate extremely cold weathers just fine.
- Blanketing horses works if shelter is not available during turnout or if the horse’s hair coat is not thick enough. If your horse is too young or too old, they might not do so well in low temperatures because they are not so efficient in maintaining their body temperature.
- Find a suitable blanket that will provide proper insulation and at the same time comfortable for the horse to wear. Waterproof, lightweight and breathable blankets are available.
Check the Pasture
Winter preparations is not just about checking on your barn and installing heaters and other heating systems but also ensuring that the entire ground is suitable for turnout even during winter. Check your fence line and make sure to repair any damages before winter freezes the ground.
Spot wet areas around your barn and do something about it. The wet and flooded spots in your barn are usually ones that receive a high amount of foot traffic such as pasture gates, as well as the water tanks. Keeping these areas dry is stopping them from icing up – this would prevent future accidents such as having your horse fall or skid on ice.
Water is Essential in Winter
All year round, the most basic nutrient that a horse needs is water. In fact, water is needed by horses even more than their feed. You might think that cold weather will not require horses to drink as much water as in warm months, but on the contrary, cold weather calls for more water consumption. Cold weather inhibits growth of grass and when there’s no fresh grass, there’s less water to take in (fresh grass is an excellent source of water).
Some people might also think that domesticated horses can just survive by eating snow to hydrate themselves. While it is true that wild horses can adapt well with low water consumption since feeding may also be reduced, you must remember that surviving for longer periods without food is more acceptable than holding off for longer periods without enough water consumption. Water is also important for proper digestion. If your horse takes in less water, there is a great risk of indigestion and impaction colic. To reduce incidence of colic, support proper and healthy digestion, and help your horse maintain its well-being, especially during winter, provide your horse with clean and fresh water at all times.
Preparing your horse for winter has its own challenges but keep in mind that your horse will need as much care and attention, or even more, during winter. Barn preparations may also be dependent on the conditions of the particular area where your barn is situated. In some areas, winters are mild while others can have a harsh season. Nevertheless, keep things always in check. Don’t wait any longer – winter is fast approaching and now is the best time to equip yourself and your barn so you can provide proper care that your horse needs and deserves.