Winter Care for Horses

Horses are wonderful animals. They’ve borne us on our backs since the dawn of time. Despite that long history, we are still learning about them. When it comes to horse care, many of the basics are common knowledge, but it seems there is always something new to learn. In this article, your local vet Canal Winchester offers suggestions for caring for your horse in winter.

Feed

Horses eat roughly 2 to 3 percent of their body weight each day. Most of this should come from pasturage, when available, and hay when it is not. Colder temperatures mean your hooved pals will need to eat more to keep their body temperature stable. Your horse should have free access to hay. A low-nutrient hay is a good choice, though older horses may benefit from alfalfa. Make only minimal changes, if any, to your horse’s grain intake, as sudden changes in grain consumption can cause digestive issues, such as colic.

Water

Making sure your horse is getting plenty of water is always important, but in winter it it crucial. Eating more hay without also increasing water intake could cause impaction. Also, many horses don’t care to drink water that is ice cold, so your horse may drink less on cold days. If possible, give your horse water that is slightly warm, and don’t let your water buckets freeze.

Exercise

When riding in winter, you’ll need to take a few extra precautions to keep your horse safe and prevent illness and injury. Avoid putting a cold metal bit in your horse’s mouth; warm it up to body temperature first. If your horse works up a sweat, make sure he is completely cooled and dried before you put him away. Wet fur won’t offer as much insulation as dry fur, so putting your horse away hot could lead to issues. Use a blanket that sucks moisture, or a towel to soak up extra moisture, walk your buddy, then brush him

Blankets

As simple as a blanket it is, there are a few things to keep in mind. Stable blankets are made for indoor use, and won’t protect your horse from rain or snow. Horses that spend most or all of their time at pasture should have turnout blankets, which are designed to offer protection from the elements.

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