General horse care in winter
The Great Outdoors
- Mud can build up around water troughs and gates. Build the areas up with rocks and gravel to provide a dry environment.
- Only apply blankets to clean, dry horses
- Fluffing up your horses coat before turning them out will assist in insulating them
- No time for food fights
- Alfalfa hay is higher in calories than grass hay. Feed it to your horse if you need a feed with a boost during peak winter temperatures.
- Try other feed options such as beet pulp if your horse isn’t overly excited at the prospect of more hay
- Providing a small amount of salt in your horses feed will encourage it to increase its fluids in winter
- Warm carrots in the microwave as an extra treat. Your horse will appreciate the gesture.
- Making the most of snow
- When exercising your horse ensure you spend 10-20 minutes warming up to loosen muscles and increase circulation.
- Use winter as an opportunity to address any performance areas in competing horses. Access to an indoor arena is ideal but not necessary.
- Riding in light snow up to a depth of 2 feet will provide a great resistance training session
Try a little extra TLC
- Ice can build up on horse hooves. If you see your horse walking on what looks like he is wearing high heels then clean them and pick the ice out. Ice can cause lacerations.
- Warming the horses bit in the tack room or your hand will make it more easily accepted by your horse.
- Daily grooming will help you triage any health issues that your horse may be suffering. It will give you a chance to comb out their hair and provide that tactile comfort. You will be rewarded with an extra nuzzle.
- Water heaters can make all the difference to your horse, as will adding warm water to their trough.
Taking care of your horse in winter requires a clear understanding of your environment, your horse and common sense. Trust your instincts. Not all horses require blankets and stables. Some have been outdoors their whole lives and build up the coats to deal with cold winters. If you have a new horse visiting your area and they aren’t used to your winter then keep a closer eye on them and provide a blanket. It can take some horses a good year to build up that winter coat and acclimatize.
Having a good relationship with your veterinarian as well as other horse owners will keep you ahead of the game in winter. Make the most of the beautiful cold. Take time to be thankful for no flies, mosquitoes or bugs. Going out for a ride will keep you both warm and energized.
Your horse is extremely inquisitive and intelligent. Maintaining a working program during winter or developing their skills for competition will keep their minds sharp and agile.
Putting in the work over the cooler months will ensure your horse is ready to go when Spring arrives.
Article brought to you by Abler Equine Pharmaceuticals .