4 Tips to Care for Your Horse this Winter
Snowy weather and hot chocolate mean winter is coming around again. Most horse owners have encountered the challenges of cold weather, frozen water buckets, and freezing fingers. Horse management in the winter is hard on horses and horse owners alike. Some horses do not do well in the cold and lose weight and riding is very challenging with all of the snow and in the ice. Here are some ways to make caring for your horse during the winter months a little bit easier.
Check Teeth & Body Condition Before Winter
Prior to cold weather hitting, have your horse’s teeth checked by a veterinarian or equine dentist. You want to make sure there is nothing preventing your horse from eating properly. They will need all of the nutrients and energy they can get when the temperature drops.
You will also want to do a thorough and honest body condition evaluation. Underweight horses will often need supplementation such as a high-fat supplement to prevent additional weight loss. Consult your veterinarian if you are concerned your horse is underweight. They can help create a nutrition plan to meet your individual horse’s needs.
Prevent Water from Freezing
There are several studies showing many horses will drink more water when it is not frigid (but not hot). Unfortunately, impaction colic is fairly common during the winter because horses are not drinking enough water, so proper hydration is very important. In addition to cold water concerns, most horses are switching from grass with a high moisture content to hay with a low moisture level.
The Perfect Bucket Heater is a great option for keeping water warm and encouraging your horse to drink more water. Keeping your water from freezing also has benefits for you, since you won’t be hammering frozen buckets every morning!
Pro Tip - Rubber buckets are a great investment for winter months. Plastic buckets can freeze and shatter in extreme temperatures, while rubber buckets will hold up to temperature changes.
Keeping Your Horse Warm
Horses tend to acclimate to colder weather fairly well. As your horse eats hay and grain, they will produce a lot of heat during digestion. However, some horses need more help to stay warm in the winter. Younger horses, senior horses, underweight horses, or clipped horses will likely need a blanket to ensure they stay warm. There are several important considerations to keep in mind when selecting a blanket, including fit, durability, waterproof or not, and type and amount of fill.
The Pessoa Alpine Turnout blanket is a great option for a waterproof, breathable blanket. This blanket features standard shoulder gussets, fleece wither, dual low-cross t-lock surcingles, and a large umbrella tail flap.
Daily Body Checks
Whether your horse is wearing a blanket, daily body checks will allow you to notice any issues. It can be easy to miss these under a thick coat. Remove their blanket daily for quick grooming and to check for chafing, irritation, or weight loss. If your horse has rubbing, try a different blanket and ensure they are wearing the right size.