5 Ways to Prepare Your Horse for Winter Weather
The cold weather is coming — and has already arrived in some places! While you are dreaming of toasty nights by the fire with your hot chocolate, we can’t forget to prepare our horses for the change in season. Below are our favorite 5 tips to help you and your horse thrive during the chilly season.
Check Body Condition: Do a complete body assessment of your horse in the Fall before the cold weather sets in. (If you haven’t used a body condition scale before, you can find one here.) Colder weather requires your horse to burn more calories to stay warm. If they are on the thinner side going into winter, you may consider increasing their calorie intake to prevent weight loss. Be sure to ask for recommendations from your vet that are specific for your horse and their living conditions.
Check, Wash & Repair Blankets: This trick will save you a lot of time and headache on that first really cold night when you need to pull the blankets out! Thoroughly clean your blankets and check for any needed repairs. You may find a replacement blanket or a second blanket is needed. Also, double check the fit of your current blanket. Blanket sizing can change year-over-year for many different reasons and you want to ensure your blanket fits properly to prevent rubbing.
Dental Check: Ask your vet or equine dentist to do a dental exam and float (if needed). This helps to reduce the chances of dental issues and potential weight loss or colic in the middle of the winter. It is also easier for your vet or dentist to complete a dental when the weather is warmer. Freezing water during a dental is not fun for your horse or your vet!
Check First-Aid Kit: Do a complete inventory of your equine first aid kit. Discard expired medications, refill your stock of towels, bandages, and gauze, and make sure your thermometer still works. Some horses are very prone to colic during seasonal changes. Make sure you are prepared for these types of emergencies. Also, be sure to move any medications that could freeze indoors. There are many medications that lose their effectiveness if they have been frozen.
- Remove/Change Shoes: If you are planning to remove your horses’ shoes for winter, make sure to schedule a visit with your farrier well in advance of the cold weather. Shoes should be removed before the ground freezes to give your horse time to acclimate before the ground hardens. If you are planning to keep shoes on, many horse owners like to add pads. Check with your farrier for recommendations specific for your horse, their living environment and level of exercise over the winter months.
As we all know, winter weather can arrive literally overnight and unexpectedly. If you prepare now, you’ll be ready to enjoy the best of winter, knowing your horses are safe and cozy.