Whether you like it or not, Winter is just around the corner. As you pull out your winter jackets and say goodbye to shorts and tank tops, remember that you need to prep your horse for the coming temperature drops. We’ve gathered five tips to help you maximize your cold weather horse care:
Hydration is Key
During the summer months, horses are able to get a higher intake of water due to lush greenery and pastures. When Winter dries up these plants, horses rely more on dry hay and grains, which could leave them dehydrated or more prone to colic.
When horses drink less water, they usually consume less food. Without the proper amount of calories, they may not have the body fat or energy to withstand colder temperatures. Pay attention to how much water your horse is drinking, and make sure they always have a clean supply available – it’ll make a difference.
Have A Shelter Ready to Go
A properly prepared environment is an important aspect of cold weather horse care, so make sure you have a plan. Most horses are ok with staying outside during a routine temperature drop, but every horse has different preferences.
Although trees provide good shade during the warmer months, a shed is more useful for waiting out winter moisture and storms. Your horse will want somewhere to go when sleet, high wind, snow, and ice rage outside, so make sure you have one that is set up before it gets too cold outside. They will be more comfortable and able to handle lower temperatures.
To Blanket or Not to Blanket?
One of the first things that might come to mind for cold weather horse care is when/how to use a blanket. Until the Winter Solstice (December 22), horses develop a thick winter hair coat that traps heat to keep them comfortable. You want to make sure you’re not (overly) blanketing them before the solstice, as this could hinder the growth of their natural heating system.
However, their hair struggles to trap heat as effectively when it gets wet. This is why a reliable shelter and the right blanket for storms is extra important. If your horse seems uncomfortable/too cold, make sure they are also eating and drinking enough. Or, a certified veterinarian could give you some personalized advice on how to help.
Say “Yay” to Hay
As you would expect, horses use more calories during colder months to keep warm. To make up for this, they may need extra calories to keep them energized and healthy. Nutrient-rich, high quality hay is a staple for cold weather horse care, so make sure that your horse has enough access for them to chow down when they need to.
Keep an eye on how much your horse is eating, or if they are losing a noticeable amount of weight. You may need to adjust their water intake or other factors. If you’re concerned or unsure on how to best feed your horse during winter, call your trusted veterinarian for insight.
Keeping these metrics in mind as the colder months approach will ensure that you will have a happy, healthy horse this Winter. Here at BRD, we’ve been specializing in trusted horse health care since 1925. Visit our shop here.