Horses and Ponies: 14 Winter Care Tips

DRAFT HORSES IN BARN YARD IN SNOW IN VERMONT

Winter may be difficult on both and their owners. Feeding can be difficult, and the snow and cold can cause to become ill. Depending on the snow depth and temperature, stable care might become increasingly difficult and riding nearly impossible. Here are some suggestions for making life simpler for you and your horse during the cold months.

Adjust Feeding Programs

Even in locations where there is no snow cover, stops growing and nutritional quality suffers. Consider adding hay and as pasture quality or accessibility deteriorates. That way, your will not lose weight or get hungry over the winter.

Supply Water

Although you don't want to give your horse warm water, studies have shown that horses who are given warm water are more likely to drink. Impaction colic is more common in the winter because horses don't drink enough and hay has less moisture than grass. Even in the cold, they won't be able to digest hay and extract the maximum nourishment from it if they aren't well hydrated.

Help Horses Keep Warm

Horses that are kept outside require extra grain. During digesting, horses generate a lot of heat. A plentiful amount of hay keeps the horse's internal furnace going, keeping them warm in the winter.

Add Minerals

If your feeding program does not include a mineral supplement consider adding one. Test your hay so you know exactly what minerals and concentrates you need to add to your horse’s diet.

Have Teeth Checked

Make sure an equine dentist looks after your horse or pony's teeth. A horse's failure to grind food efficiently will hinder it from acquiring all of the nutrients and energy it requires, especially as the weather becomes colder.

Prevent Snowballs

If snow becomes stuck in your horse's feet, try putting petroleum jelly on the bottom. Consult your farrier about putting ice calks and snow pads to your horse's shoes, and don't miss farrier appointments simply because you aren't riding as much in the winter.

If You Ride Frequently

It's tough to dry a horse after an exercise. Consider cutting a thick layer of hair. Stabling and blanketing are required for a trimmed horse that lacks natural insulation. Don't let a sweaty horse out in the cold. Allow additional time for a horse to dry up after a ride before releasing it.

Add Insulation

When the weather is damp, windy, or cold, consider blanketing. A damp clothing, like a wet down jacket, loses its loft and won't keep body heat in. Warmth is pushed away by the wind. Some horses will be more comfortable under a warm winter blanket than in really cold conditions.

Provide Shelter

Even if your horses are overnight, offer a windbreak or a run-in cover for them, especially if you will be gone for the most of the day.

Banish Bots

Deworming should be done after the first significant frost. Botflies attack in the late summer, therefore apply a wormer with bot larvae-killing medicine in the late fall or early winter.

Continue Deworming

Continue a regular throughout the winter months.

Don't Let Hooves Get Overgrown

Maintain your horse's by clipping them. Hooves that have been properly trimmed will chip less, hold less snow, and give a little more traction on slick surfaces. Overgrown feet can be severely cracked by hard ground and ice, and your horse's grip on slick terrain will be poor if the are excessively long.

Check Under Blankets

If your horse or pony wears a winter blanket (or rug) in the winter, check for chaffing and discomfort on a regular basis. If your horse wears a blanket, daily grooming keeps his coat cleaner and more comfortable. If the blanket is rubbing or chaffing you, consider a different blanket or have it changed. A bib that fits under the blanket might help prevent rubbing.

Make Cleaning Frozen Water Buckets Easier

Rubber buckets are easier to de-ice than plastic buckets if they become frozen. When plastic buckets used freeze, they can break. This can pose a safety risk and cost money to replace. Rubber buckets are more expensive at first, but they endure longer.

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