Tips to keep your horse healthy during the chills of winter
The first things that spring for horse care winter months are shelter, horse blankets, feed and exercise. This is in no way the comprehensive list for items that you need to check off for horse care in the winter months. There are aspects of your horse’s care that won’t change season to season. You will always groom, exercise and feed your horse daily. What changes are the ways in which you adjust and complete these tasks.
Turnout is important during winter months
If your horse is usually stabled at night then this won’t change during winter. Ensure that there is adequate ventilation and fresh air. This reduces your horse coming into contact with airborne allergens and dust. Try turning your horse out to pasture during the day where possible. For the true outdoor horse invest in a high quality horse blanket or rug to keep the rain and snow of their coats. Providing a shelter with a windbreak will not only provide protection from winter gales but will also double as shade from the sun in warmer months. This shelter would also be an ideal place for a water trough.
Grooming the Winter coat
Daily grooming in winter provides a perfect opportunity for you to check the health and well being of your horse. It allows you to get up close and personal with your horse and identify any cuts or lesions. It will also allow you to check across the ribs and assess whether your horse is getting enough feed in winter. Depending on the feel of your horse you can then increase or decrease their feed to balance the amount of energy they output. If their coat lacks lustre or they are in pain when having a daily check up consult your veterinarian for any illness and treat accordingly. Signs in spring that your horse isn’t shedding their winter coat in the appropriate amount of time could be due to Cushings disease. Keeping an eye on these grooming changes will keep you ahead of the game.
Have horse will run – exercise in winter
Maintaining an exercise regime in winter is just as important as any other season. You may need to modify your routine to cater for ice, track conditions or the horses’ health. Older horses can be susceptible to arthritis and colic so ensure that they are not over worked. If conditions prevent you from taking your horse out the next best option is to turn them out to pasture to graze and roam. By ploughing tracks along fence lines you can maintain safety in snow covered fields. Maintaining daily exercise with your horse ensures you will have a healthy and fit horse in spring.
Horse blankets – cover up or not?
There are a multitude of horse blankets and rugs out on the market. From the old fashioned, tried and tested canvas rugs to high tech modern light weight ones. Most owners will go with what they are familiar with. Keep an eye out for new products and see if there is something to fit your needs. New high tech synthetic rugs offer reflective surfaces to keep in warmth and anti bacterial layers to reduce sweating for your horse. They come with additional coverings for necks and a host of different clips, straps and fasteners. Experts agree that if you are going to have your horse wear a blanket then you need to check on them at least twice a day. This will allow you to keep a check on them that they haven’t caught themselves on a fence or entwined themselves in a rug that is too big. Moving in and out of winter means you will most likely have a number of different covering options to change as the temperature does.
Glorious Food – offer a varied diet
All horses benefit from a varied diet. Winter presents its own challenges as areas that experience snow coverage will need to provide additional feed to their horses. Horses use up an incredible amount of energy keeping themselves warm and regulating their temperature. So to offset that they must have a high quality diet of hay that will give them the energy to keep warm. Ample supplies of water in troughs are another difficult area for winter as opposed to other seasons. In order to keep water from freezing over in troughs there are a number of heating elements to help combat this problem. Adding warm water twice a day will also encourage your horse to hydrate. An equine probiotic will keep your horse’s digestive balance on track.
Pre planning of horse care throughout the seasons is best.
And so as the seasons blend into another and another year passes on, take the time to check if you are ready for horse care winter months . Pre planning is the key to being organised and on top of your horse’s season of care calendar.