Winter Horse Care Tips

Horses adapt easily and quickly to the challenges of winter.
But it’s important to give them the extra attention they need to stay safe and
healthy when the cold winds blow.

1. As the quality or access of pastures decreases, hay
increases. The best source of heat for your horse is extra hay. During cold
weather, it is better to increase the amount of hay, not concentrated foods.
Hay is digested in the caecum and colon, which produces heat by bacterial
fermentation.

2. Get a dental check-up before winter. If your horse is not
grinding his food properly, he may not get all the nutrients and energy he
needs. Food is energy and energy creates warmth!

3. Even if your horses are stabled at night, make sure they
have a windbreaker or shelter. This does not have to be an elaborate structure.
Dense shrubs or a group of trees may be enough.

4. Consider covering during humid, very windy or cold
weather. Like a wet jacket, your horse’s coat loses loft and will not keep body
heat when wet. Older horses, horses that are not used for cold or cut horses
may need to be covered.

5. Remove the blanket every day. Brush your horse and check
for chafing and irritation on the blanket. Do not neglect the preparation
during the winter. A dirty and tangled layer loses much of its insulation
capacity.

6. If you put your horse in a stable during a very cold
weather, keep in mind that you may still need shelter. In nature, horses feed,
move continuously and gather during cold weather to maintain high body
temperature. These options are not available for a stopped horse, and body
temperature may decrease.

7. Inside the barn, make sure there is adequate ventilation
but not direct currents. Consider the weather by removing the posts. If the
floors of your barn are cement, add rubber mats or extra bedding to insulate
them.

8. Be sure to provide adequate water during the winter.
Horses can not drink enough if the water is icy. Try to keep water temperatures
above the freezing point to increase water consumption and avoid dehydration.

9. Watch for frozen puddles around the watering holes. These
can be dangerous for your horse. Sprinkle alfalfa flour in the icy places.
Alfalfa contains nitrogen to promote fusion and has a texture to provide
traction. Non-toxic and cheap! Chimney ashes and old dirt can also provide
traction.

10. Keep the hooves in good condition. Well-trimmed hooves
will splinterless, keep less snow and provide better grip on slippery surfaces.

In nature, horses acclimate very easily to cold weather. In
a domestic environment, we may need to provide a little extra care to ensure
the safety and health of our horse. Learn to balance the needs of your horse
with your current environment to obtain the best possible health of the horse!

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