Now that the frosty mornings, chilly winds and unexpected showers are fully upon us, it can be an ongoing nightmare for horse owners. From the constant battle to keep their horse stable rugs free from mud to having to check that their water supply has not frozen over, ongoing horse care can become much more time-consuming in the winter months. Especially for more vulnerable horses such as those who are older or have ongoing health issues, taking extra precautions in the winter months is vital so we have pulled together some top tips to help you prepare for the colder seasons.
Provide an extra layer of warmth
Although some owners prefer to avoid rugging their horse since it interferes with the natural evolution of their breed, sometimes providing that added layer of protection can make all the difference. Turnout rugs are a popular choice during wet and windy weather due to their wicking properties, not only keeping your horse comfortable but keeping their coat clean. During any particularly cold spells, a fleece rug can be used either on its own in the stable or underneath their usual rugs as an extra layer of protection. Whatever rug you opt for, be sure to accurately measure your horse before ordering; a fit that is too small can cause discomfort and sores whereas a large size can be a safety hazard as it is prone to get caught.
Prepare their living area
The build up of mud or damp conditions can pose health risks to your horse, growing the risk of catching mud fever. Ensure that your horse’s living conditions are warm, comfortable and dry, laying down good quality hay or bedding to provide a layer of insulation from the cold flooring. Many horse owners choose to create a layer of footing material such as sand or a wood product which makes for easier maintenance whilst avoiding dust, keeping things as easy as possible for both the owner and the horse. It is worth addressing any draughts or leaks as this can become an ongoing issue if water is able to access the indoors, requiring much more maintenance work.
Maintain strong teeth
As the winter approaches, it is recommended to book in for a dental examination to check the condition of your horse’s teeth. With grazing being a huge part of your horse’s lifestyle in the winter to provide them with an additional energy source, any dental issues can affect the way they eat and minimise their intake. Regular checks will ensure their teeth are in healthy condition, catching any potential problems in the early stages.
Stay stocked up on essentials
If you find yourself up against an unexpected snow storm or spell of heavy rain, do you have everything you would need to continue caring for your horse? Ensure you have all of the daily necessities and are ready to face the winter months. A common winter issue is the water bucket freezing over; your horse should have constant access to fresh water so buy a heated trough or pop a tennis ball into the water to make it trickier to freeze. It is also recommended to keep a larger stock of food and pasture than normal so you have a back up supply if you are unable to reach a source or there is a shortage.