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Four Cozy Tips For Cold Weather Horse Care

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

How to Keep Your Overheated Horse Cool During Summer

How to Keep Your Overheated Horse Cool During Summer

Summer months get hot, and you don’t want to find yourself with an overheated horse. Learning how to see the signs of heat exhaustion and how to treat the symptoms will keep your horse happy and healthy all summer long. 

Signs Of An Overheated Horse

Whether it’s from exercise, lack of shade, or intense summer heat, horses can be negatively affected by heat. Young, old, and ill horses are at the highest risk, so pay special attention to their body language. Some signs that your horse might be overheated include:

  • Rapid breathing

    • It’s normal for rapid breathing after exercising, but if it is post cool-down period, they are probably uncomfortable from heat.
  • Unusually High Temperatures

    • If your horse has a temperature of 102 degrees (F) or higher after cooling down from exercising, call your veterinarian.
  • Dehydration

    • Try gently pinching the skin along your horse’s neck between your fingers. Then, watch closely as you release. If the pinched skin is slow to return back to normal after you let go, your horse is dehydrated.
  • Excessive Sweating

    • Horses cool themselves down in the summer heat by sweating. Factors such as how fit your horse is, age, and more will determine how much your horse sweats, it will differ. If your horse looks like it is sweating more often in a higher volume, your overheated horse needs to be cooled down.
  • Weakness & Disinterest

    • An overheated horse will feel tired and weak. If you notice strange behaviors such as your horse standing while not interacting with the surrounding area, a weak-looking gait, or refusing to eat, start looking into other symptoms.

How To Treat Your Overheated Horse

When it comes to good horse care, setting up a comfortable environment is the first step. Providing a variety of natural and human-made shade options will give your horse a place to rest comfortably during hot summer heat. In addition, making cool water available at all times for your horse will allow them to stay hydrated.

If you can see your overheated horse needs care, first lead them to a shaded area where they are comfortable. Then hose them off with cool water. Make sure it’s not ice cold, this will be shocking and uncomfortable to their system. As you’re covering your horse in cool water, gently scrape off the water as you go. This will take away the hot water that collects on them and allow them to sweat, aiding the cool-down process. 

Not Sure If Your Horse Is Okay?

If your horse doesn’t appear to be getting better after cooling them down and offering cool water in a shaded area for a bit, call your vet to seek professional advice. Explain your horse’s symptoms, what you have done to treat them, and ask for the next step. 

Preparing shaded areas and water are important for your horse’s happiness and health, so make sure to prepare for the hot months in your area. Make sure to keep an eye on how your horse is behaving, and check for signs of overheating if your horse is behaving unusually. Your horse will thank you!