5 Winter Horse Care Tips
How best to care for your horse over the winter months.
Brr baby its cold outside: There is nothing more picturesque than a snow covered landscape. The purity of that white blanket is the epitome of winter. While you are curled up by the fire keeping out of the cold make sure you have first taken care of your other loved ones who live in the great outdoors.
1. Preventative measures – prepare early for Winter
In the lead up to winter and when the temperature drops, start thinking about a plan of attack for your winter horse care. By getting a head start on your winter routine, you can alleviate any health issues that could affect your horse during the colder months. Here’s a quick checklist of winter horse care tips to ensure you are best prepared for this holiday season.
2. High Quality Hay for energy
Bulk up, and by this we mean food. In order to add that extra layer to ward off the winter cold ensure that your horse has plenty of high quality hay on supply. Hay is a preferred choice by vets for bulking your horse up. During the colder snaps, your horse will use more energy keeping warm so needs this extra bulk for energy. Keep hay feeds up during the extra months. Checking your horse by hand around the ribs will tell if you if you need to increase or decrease extra feeds. Grooming is still as important during the colder months than any other time of the year. It gives you a chance to spend one on one time with your horse, to comb any dirt out of their longer coat. Use this as an opportunity to do a quick health check on your horse. Check for any scrapes, cuts or sores.
3. Regular turnout to avoid Ulcers
Not all horses can be stabled over the winter months. If stabling your horse is not an option, try to ensure that you have access to a shelter or windbreak. Shelter will protect your horse from the wind; rain or snow, shelter will give them a chance to keep dry and reduce any opportunity for illnesses. If you do stable your horse then ensure that you allow fresh air to circulate. Air born dust and allergens can affect the health and well being for your horse. Turning them out regularly even to be led around the yard will allow them to move and stretch out. Horses that are stabled and not turned out as frequently can be susceptible to equine gastric ulcers. By taking a daily dose of a preventative like Omeprazole you are reducing the likelihood of your horse suffering gastric ulcers that can be uncomfortable and painful for your animal. Other symptoms of gastric ulcers are a dull coat, abdominal pain and a change in attitude.
And while we are on location let’s talk about pathways. Snow blowing paths and runs next to fences; will provide a safe path for both yourself and your horse. Create a safe environment and reduce the likelihood of slips and falls. It will also make feeding time a lot faster if you swap a barrow for a sled to cart hay and grain.
4. Keeping Warm – Blanket your horse
Your horse will have grown its winter coat as the weather cools down. Depending on where you live and its conditions you may look to blanket your horse. There is an amazing market of blanket types, styles and designs to suit even the fussiest of horses. Just remember to check your horse daily to ensure that your horse isn’t sweating or shivering. These are signs that you may need to adjust the type of blanket they are wearing. Ensure that you are consistent with your horse wearing blankets as they affect the growth of hair. Consistency is key.
5. Hydration is important in Winter
Water is as important in winter as it is in the warmer months. There are a number of heating implements on the market that prevent a water container from freezing over. Adding warm water to their container can also help keep it from freezing over. Some horse owners add a handful of salt to feed occasionally to increase their horses thirst. Be careful not to overdo this though, the last thing you want is a dehydrated horse.
So to ensure that you have a happy and healthy horse during the holiday season check them regularly to ensure they are comfortable. Preparation and consistency are key to surviving the colder months. Check in with your vet if you have any concerns over any horses who might need a little extra TLC to get through the holiday
This post is also available in: Français (French)