Anyone who looks after horses will know that taking care of their veterinary, farrier and dental needs is extremely important. These tasks need completing throughout the year, but in the winter months, completing these tasks becomes even more important. When preparing for the winter, owners need to be aware of the weather and think about the horse breed, age, size, coat, diet and the type of shelter they have.
You need to remember that all horses are different, so they need to be treated as such. Like humans, you should base the care you give a horse on the individual and not on what other horses are receiving. If you’re a horse owner or you take care of horses, then here are some ways you can prepare for the winter:
Food and Water Preparation
Horses convert the fibre in hay and other food items into heat. This means that horses need access to good quality hay in order to stay warm over the winter months. You may need to increase the quality or the amount of hay you give your horse over this period. You can find top-quality hay for sale at Hill View Farm. This hay for sale is nutritional and full of fibre, making it the perfect choice for the winter months when horses are unable to get outside and graze.
In the winter months, horses also need constant access to fresh, non-frozen water. Ideally, this water should be kept at approximately 45 degrees as this will help aid their digestion.
In order to take care of your horses in the winter months, you will need to keep an eye on their weight. The weight of an animal can be a huge indicator of whether they’re healthy or not.
Horse owners should check their horses regularly to make sure they’re maintaining a healthy body weight. In the winter months, horses are likely to spend more time in the stables and less time being ridden, so it’s easy for them to gain weight. Likewise, if you notice a horse is suddenly losing weight, then you should think about introducing supplementary feeding, increasing the number of calories in their forage, or rugging them.
Shelter and Warmth
If you can, you should consider allowing your horse’s natural coat to grow over the colder months. The thickness of this coat will help your horse stay warm as it acts as a layer of insulation around its body.
However, not everyone is able to let their horses’ coats grow over the winter period. If your horse is working over the winter months or you need to clip it for a show, then why not consider purchasing a breathable coat or blanket instead? This will help to keep them warm whilst also allowing them to look their best.
Even with a long coat, horses can still get cold. So, in order to protect your horse from the cold temperatures and winter elements, you should build them a shelter.
Keeping an eye on your horse’s health isn’t as easy in the winter months as it is the rest of the year. Horse owners spend less time with their horses when the weather is bad, so it’s often hard to pick up on signs of ill health. However, there are a few things you can do to protect your horse during the winter months. Firstly, you should make sure you keep up to date with your horse’s vaccinations, and secondly, you should try and stay in control of parasites and bugs. Parasites and bugs will move indoors in the winter months as they look for warm places to live. This means that your stables could be a breeding ground for these pesky critters. Talk to your vet about how to protect your horse’s health and how you can avoid bugs breeding in your stables.
Over the winter period, you will also need to take care of your horses’ hooves. Hoof care should be maintained throughout the year, but in the winter months, this becomes even more important. Owners should consider using snowball pads and winter studs.
Horse owners need to continuously monitor their horses’ welfare and health no matter what time of year it is. So, in order to keep your horse healthy, make sure you’ve stocked up on food, stayed up to date with their vaccines, and ensure you’ve provided shelter to keep them warm.