Your horse requires special care in the winter in order to keep him healthy.
Caring for your horse during the wintertime can be a challenge, with cold temperatures and frozen water. But your horse needs your care during the winter days more than ever.
These 10 wintertime horse care tips are a great way to make sure that your horse gets everything that he needs during winter weather.
Increase Caloric Intake
Your horse will need more to eat in order to keep his weight on during the cold winter temperatures. Horses shiver if they're cold, which burns calories and turns into quick weight loss.
Additionally, horses can generate body heat as they digest hay, which keeps them warm. As you care for your horse in the winter, make sure that you provide him with enough good quality hay in order to maintain his weight during the coldest winter months.
Provide Appealing Water
Frozen water buckets make it impossible for your horse to drink, and ice-cold water isn't appealing to horses. Water consumption is obviously imperative for healthy horses.
It's important to provide your horse with appetizing warm water in order to keep him hydrated during the winter. Consider using an insulated waterers or heated bucket or water trough to keep your horse's water ice-free in freezing temperatures. Your horse must have access to a water source!
Give Your Horse Shelter
It's important that your horse have shelter so that he can get out of the wind and snow during the winter.
If your horse spends a good amount of time in a field, then make sure that he has a shed or other run-in to use for protection.
Consider Using Horse Blankets
Some horses may benefit from horse blankets or a turnout blanket. Generally older horses or horses which grow only thin coats and not a winter coat will need the extra protection of a horse blanket. Clipped horses may also benefit from a blanket.
If you choose to blanket your horse, then make sure that you have a few different blankets to use when temperatures fluctuate or when one blanket gets wet and needs to be removed.
Monitor Your Horse's Weight
It's so important to keep a close eye on your horse's weight during the winter. Your horse can quickly lose weight, so you want to check your horse over at least every other day.
If your horse wears blankets, then be sure to remove the blankets regularly to monitor your horse's body weight and to check for blanket rubs. Learn how to assess your horse's body condition score here.
Check Your Horse's Hooves Carefully
If you're not riding your horse during the winter, it may be easy to let his hoof care slide.
You will want to still check your horse's hooves over carefully, though, to make sure that he hasn't lodged a rock or other debris up into his hooves.
Provide Safe Footing
It's hard to provide your horse with safe footing outside, especially as things get icy. If you're dealing with ice, then spread sand out over the ice before you walk your horse over it.
Do your best to provide safe footing so that your horse doesn't slip and injure himself.
Allow for Barn Ventilation
Many horse owners close up their barns during the winter to retain heat, but doing this reduces the ventilation that your horse will have access to.
Closing up a barn can cause respiratory issues, so even if you must close your barn doors, make sure to leave the windows open for improved air circulation.
Keep Your Horse Moving
It may be tempting to lock your horse in his stall throughout much of the winter, since the footing outside is slippery and the weather might be bad. However, when your horse is in his stall, he cannot move about like he normally would.
Your horse's circulation and digestive health may suffer as a result. Instead, make an effort to keep your horse moving and get his some fresh air, even if you have to hand walk him outside or turn him out in an indoor arena for a few hours each day if there is bad weather.
Wintertime horse care requires hard work and dedication, but it can pay off with a healthy and happy horse. Just remember, spring will be here soon, and this winter will be a thing of the past.
How do you prepare your horse for cold weather? Tell us about your winter horse care in the comments below.
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