Guest Author - Kim Wende
With the days getting shorter and the temperatures getting cooler you can tell fall is in the air and winter is right around the corner. Is your horse ready for winter? Here are some things you can do to make your horse more comfortable during the winter.
Shelter – this does not have to be anything fancy, but it must be sturdy and have three sides. Your horse may not always use the shelter, but they should access to one. If you have several horses you will need to take this into consideration because the lead horse many not let the others in. You also need to take into consideration where the open side will be. For instance in the South, the open side should face east.
Blanketing – this is going to depend on several factors. Some of the things you need to take into consideration is where you live, what your winter weather is like and the age and breed of your horse. Some breeds have thicker skin and some put on a heavier winter coat. If the blanket is left on to long and causes the horse to get sweaty it could cause rain rot, dehydration among other things. Also, if the temperature gets warmer during the day will you be able to remove the blanket or will they have to wear it all day long?
Extra Feed – horses require extra calories during the winter to help keep them warm. Giving them extra hay will help keep the body temperature up because the time it takes to digest the hay. Make sure you have plenty of good quality hay from the same supplier because changing hay can cause your horse to colic.
Water – during the cold weather the horses need for water increases because they take in more feed to keep up their body temperature. It is best to have the water temperature between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If you place a heater in the trough or use a heated bucket make sure your horse will drink as some won't. When using a heater make sure it is properly grounded.
Taking all of the above into consideration will get your horse through the winter months. Horses generally adapt well to winter, but some will need the extra care so be prepared.