10 Tips for Keeping Your Horses Healthy and Comfortable this Winter

10 Tips for Keeping Your Horses Healthy and Comfortable this Winter is another post in keeping with my objective which is to continue to bring you helpful information about caring for horse health, extending their lives and just all-around fun for horses and riders.

I think this post on caring for your horse health during winter could be one of the most important ones I have seen. In my humble opinion, I think winter care to be more important than the easier and more common sense details of summer care.

Water would seem more important in the summer but you will see here that it is just as important in winter. Many of you may already know all these things but I know many don’t. Just one new thing could save your best pal this winter.

Let’s take a look at what an expert has to say about keeping your horses healthy and comfortable this winter so when spring comes both they and you will be ready to go. The author lives in Montana so I think she is well qualified to speak to this subject.

10 Tips To Winter Horse Care

by Genie Ladd

Winter is here, there is no denying it! With so many more challenges presenting themselves in the winter, we do have to work harder and smarter to keep our horses healthy once the temperatures drop. Here are some tips to keeping your horse fit and healthy during the cold winter months.

1. The fact of the matter is we don’t ride as much during the winter months which can dramatically alter the number of calories a horse needs to consume. With your horse standing around the paddock or barn he is burning fewer calories, but then again, your horse will need to burn more calories to generate body heat and maintain its normal core temperature.

Helping your horse maintain his body temperature is important. You can achieve this by substituting two pounds of hay for each reduced pound of grain-fed daily. Back in the day, horse owners would corn feed during the winter. They felt it would help generate heat and reduce the amount of stress on the horse in cold weather. What we now know is this; a horse that is eating hay is able to generate more heat in the hindgut from the fermentation of grass and hay thus helping to maintain its body temperature. In all but the most extreme weather, a horse’s caloric needs generally rise only ten to twenty percent.

2. Good horse health says supplement your horse’s diet with a specialty feed and/or supplements to ensure that your horse receives the necessary amount of minerals and vitamins. Salt blocks and mineral licks should be made available to them as well.

3. Water is the most important nutrient for your horse. During the cold months, horses are more susceptible to impaction colic. This is when the intestine becomes blocked by a firm mass of food.

Impactions most commonly occur in the large intestine at one of the flexures and can be caused by a reduction in water consumption. Water is essential for a horse to maintain a healthy digestive system.

For good horse health, make sure your horse has good access to warm water will help to prevent impaction colic. When a horse drinks cold water, they must use extra energy to replace the heat lost to the chilling water, therefore, drinking less. The use of a tank heater will encourage your horse to drink more and as an added bonus, you won’t have to break up a layer of ice each morning!

4. Maintaining hoof health through the winter is important as mud and manure pack the hooves and provide an ideal environment for thrush to grow. Pick your horse’s feet often and once a week apply an anti thrush product as a preventive measure. You can make your own anti-thrush solution by mixing one part bleach to two parts water. Whether you use your own solution or a thrush product such as Kopertox, be sure to avoid your skin and your horse’s skin as it will burn.

Horse’s hooves are a big part of horse health. They still grow during the winter so you do need to have them trimmed on a regular basis. There are many products on the market such as Life Data Farrier’s Formula or Shoer’s Friend that promotes healthy hooves. Keeping your horse’s feet in good condition, free of breaks and cracks will eliminate hoof problems and have your horse sound and ready for shoes in the spring.

5. Blanket your horse in extreme conditions or if you have a show horse with abnormally short winter hair. Be proactive and make sure the blanket still fits your horse and is in good condition.

6. Maintaining good skincare is also important to your horse’s health. Bacteria and fungi can result from your horse having a dirty hair-coat. Keep your horse’s skin healthy by currying his body often. Not only will this lift dirt to the surface, but it will also enable you to feel any hidden bumps or sores that could indicate a wound or skin condition.

7. Should you ride your horse in the winter? You Betcha! There are plenty of nice winter days. Slide some toe warmers in your boots, add gloves, good winter riding wear and get out and ride. If you don’t normally wear chaps/chinks in the summer add them to your winter wear. They are excellent for keeping you warm. Not only is riding through the winter good for your horse’s mental health, but it will also do wonders for you too.

8. If you use a tail-bag on your horse, it is important to change the bag every 14 days. Rinse, condition, and dry the tail before rebagging. This will help to keep the hair from breaking at the top of the tail.

9. Having a senior horse presents its own set of winter challenges. Talk to your veterinarian about arthritis and joint compounds, as well as, supplements to help them through the cold months. Your senior horse should be monitored often to make sure they maintain their weight and health.

10. If you turn your horses out to pasture in the winter, it is a good idea to have a place where they can get out of the elements. A run-in shed is a good solution when you don’t have a barn. The important thing is to not turn your horses out and forget about them. Monitor their health, have a visual inspection every day at feeding and give them a little extra TLC.

Enjoy the beautiful winter months with your horse…Live, Love, and Ride Often…

Genie Ladd lives in Montana and has been training horses for over 30 years. Please visit http://www.thehorsegal.com for horse training tips & advice, discounted products, reviews, information and more.

Where there’s a good horse there’s a good dog or 3 and they are probably strong dog breeds. We have the strongest heavy duty dog crates for strong dogs around. Create a den for your dogs. Check our selection of strong dog crates for your hard-working dogs. They work inside the house or barn or outside. Just give them some cover.

I hope you enjoyed 10 Tips for Keeping Your Horses Healthy and Comfortable this Winter and that it will help you accomplish something really great for your horse. I know he or she will love you for it. After all, your investment is not just financial, it emotional. Take good care of your best pal.

About The Author

Bill Beavers, brings you pet products that provide improved Quality of Life for You, Your Family and Your Pets.

You can connect with Bill on Twitter or Facebook and follow his latest projects. For Fun, Facts and Love for our pets follow this blog for informational and entertaining posts and cool tips.

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