Just like humans, horses feel the chill of winters and are equally susceptible to ailments related to cold temperatures. There are several factors that need to be kept in mind for the well being of horses in the winter weather.
Here are some of the major things that you need to keep in mind while taking care of your horse in colder temperatures.
- In or out?
Deciding whether your horse should be inside the stable or out is a decision that you need to make carefully. If your horse is old, weak or sick, always keep it inside the stables. Young and healthy horses can be left outside because fresh air can actually be beneficial for them. But this is not true in case of extreme temperatures. So, if the weather conditions are extreme, windy or snowy, make sure your horse is stabled. Whether you decide to leave the horse outside or inside, at all times it should have access to drinking water. Horses need more water in winters so ensure that at all times they have access to drinking water and also make sure the water does not freeze due to cold temperatures.
It is important that your horse gets lots of exercise in the daytime during winters. In the wild, exercise is how horses keep themselves warm. So give your horse lots of exercise in the daytime. This will also ensure that their body is active even in the cold temperatures.
- Blankets and Horse Rugs
There are three types of blankets or horse rugs and you must ensure you are using the right kind for your horse in winters.
- Stable blankets are lightweight and can be used in winters to keep the chill off. However, they are not waterproof, so they are not suitable for rains.
- Turnout blankets are a good choice for insulation and are waterproof, so they are apt for use in the rains as well.
- Horse sheets are another kind of blanket, but they are not meant for insulation in winters. They are simply meant to keep the horse clean after grooming.
It’s possible for horses to fall sick in the winters just like humans, so make sure that you are on a constant lookout for any sign of ailment that your horse might show. Horses are quite susceptible to skin and respiratory diseases in cold weather. To prevent respiratory ailments caused due to mold and dust inside the barn, make sure there is plenty of ventilation in the barn, keep it clean and give your horse lots of fresh air by taking it outdoors for exercise.
To prevent skin diseases like bed itch, rain-rot, ringworm, lice etc. keep the horse clean and groomed. If you notice anything out of the ordinary in the horse’s skin, don’t delay a visit to the vet.
Due to the cold temperature, grass is not easily available for the horse’s feed, so you must ensure that you feed him good quality hay. You can also add some vitamin and mineral supplements in the horse’s diet. Supplements will fulfill the nutritional requirements of a horse.
The amount of care and attention that a horse needs in winter also depends on his physical well being, age and strength. If a horse is old and sick, it might need more care than a young and healthy horse. So make sure that you are looking out for any signs of ailments, taking extra, good care of the horse and not overheating the horse. The temperature at which humans feel cold is different from the temperature at which horses feel cold, so keep that in mind when you’re taking care of your horse this winter season.