The winter can be an awful time for horses, the bitter cold and wet weather means they are not getting as much exercise as they might be used to, and just like us, they will want to be kept as warm and comfortable as possible.
A horse’s coat can usually tolerate winter weather with few problems if owners pay attention to basic feeding and management principles.
Make sure your horse is kept warm when they have been worked or clipped and have no natural oils in their coats. The best way to do this is by putting a rug on them when the temperature starts to really dip.
Horses can also be affected by cold winds, which can make them spooky and unpredictable. The wind chill factor will make them feel colder. You can keep your horse happier by providing some type of windbreak such as a field shelter. If your horse does not have access to a shelter or stable, a line of trees may be adequate to block some of the wind or rain.
When you are feeding your horse over winter, add sugerbeet to the feeds to help keep condition on the horses when they are using more energy for warmth.
Even when the horse is not working and sweating, water consumption is necessary to prevent impaction of ingested material in the intestinal tract. Horses naturally tend to drink somewhat less water when the temperature drops, so every effort should be made to ensure sufficient intake. Adding water to feed, giving occasional bran mashes, and sprinkling salt on feed to stimulate a thirst response are all useful techniques.
Check your horse regularly for any changes in bodyweight. You may be riding less, or increasing the amount of time that your horse is stabled, which means that they will be burning fewer calories. Increase the amount of hay you are feeding your horse slightly to keep their bodies functioning at their highest.
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