'Wintertime Fun with Your Horse'
Do you own a horse? If so, you know that horses need special care during the cold weather months. Though they're strong animals that can endure low temperatures, it's a good idea to take some precautions so they stay healthy and happy throughout the cold weather season. This week, I have eight tips for giving your horse the care it needs over winter.
8 Tips to Care for Your Horse This Winter
- Say No to Snowy Hooves. When the snow starts to pile up, it can stick to your horse's hooves. This puts your horse at risk for slipping and injuring itself, and other health issues. One temporary fix for this is to apply petroleum jelly to the bottom of your horse's shoes/hooves to create a seal against the snow. For a more effective remedy, ask your farrier to put special pads on your horse's hooves to prevent the snow from sticking.
- Hydrate Your Horse. A horse doesn't take in as much water during the cold weather months as it does in the spring and summer. In addition, your horse is missing out on the moisture it takes in from eating grass. When a horse is dehydrated, it's at higher risk for getting colic. So, it's important to make sure your horse has a supply of clean water at all times. Giving it warm water may encourage it to drink more during the winter. If you want to prevent freezing, I suggest you get a heater designed to prevent a horse's water from freezing in the bucket.
- Create a Suitable Feeding Program. During the warm weather months, your horse eats grass, grain, and hay to maintain its weight. But, with no grass to eat in the wintertime, you need to increase the amount of hay and/or grain you give your horse to make sure it gets the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.
- Put a Blanket on Your Horse. When a horse's coat is dry, it acts as insulation trapping the heat. Unfortunately, the moisture in the air this time of year can quickly cause your horse's coat to become wet and matted. One solution is to put a blanket on your horse to keep its coat dry. To make it extra special, get a blanket with your horse's name on it. The other horses in the barn are sure to be jealous!
- Provide Cover from the Wind. Whether you keep your horse outside all winter or let it out for a few hours a day, it needs shelter from the wind. A run-in shed is great for keeping your horse out of the freezing winds and bitter cold air as it enjoys time outdoors.
- Exercise Your Horse. Make it a point to keep riding your horse during the cold weather months. It still needs regular exercise to maintain its weight and keep its muscles in shape. If you don't want to ride every day, try lunging your horse to give it some exercise.
- Avoid Trimming Your Horse's Ears. You may be tempted to trim the thick hair growing in your horse's ears this time of year. But, don't do it. This hair helps to keep your horse's ears warm.
- Don't Put Your Sweaty Horse Outside. If you love to ride year-round, keep in mind your horse will sweat even in the middle of January. After removing the saddle from your sweaty horse, use a cloth to dry it or walk it around inside the barn until the sweat dries. Putting a sweaty horse outside could cause portions of its coat to freeze.
I hope you and your horse share some fun times on these cold, snowy days. Thanks for reading.-Alan