This post is all about winter tricks and techniques for taking care of your horse! There were a couple people who willingly gave some advice. I think this was such a fun idea! I hope you enjoy!
American Girl from Paola's Horse Blog shared some of her winter tips and advice.
Horses need extra fiber during the winter, such as hay. This forage ferments in the horse's digestive tract, thus producing heat. Remember that horses don't get as cold as easily as us people. The horse can be fairly comfortable if the temperature is in the 30s and won't need too much extra fiber. However, in the single digits (Fahrenheit) they will need the extra feed and possible a blanket if they have been body clipped. Wind, rain, and snow can also make it feel colder, so remember to take that into account.
Ruffles from Just A Girl and Her Horse shared these lovely winter tips.
- I always put rugs on my horses - especially as they are on 24/7 turnout. Horses that are wet plus rain equals a very cold horse. Unless you have a very hardy self sufficient horse, they will get cold and drop weight after some time.
- Because it gets darker earlier you may not always have time to ride so a quick lunge or free schooling or even just a groom/hand walk will be fine instead of riding.
- After you ride always make sure your horse is completely dry and warm before leaving the barn.
Yours Truly- The Country Hitching Post.
One of the biggest things for me in the winter time is, water. What I have found to be very helpful when dealing with frozen water, is get a smaller bucket for your horse. Don't try to keep your big 15-50 gallon tubs thawed. That can be so much work and then to come back later that day and have a huge layer of ice on it, is just so discouraging. I got Chester about a five gallon sized bucket and I fill it morning and night. I sometimes go out there in the afternoon and check on it. But I know if you work and have school you can't always do that. So, if the buckets to small for you get a little bigger one.
Another important thing is to keep your hay dry. Moldy wet hay is Not good for horses.
Another helpful tip I have found, is to fatten your horses up in the fall. If your horse as been out on fresh grass all summer you may not have that problem. But if not, you can up the amount of hay you give them to start getting more fat on their body for the winter. That way when the cold weather comes they can sufficiently keep themselves nice and warm.
Here are a few suggestions that I collected from around. (Internet) (I didn't write these.)
1. Spend time with your horse during winter. Even when the weather is foul and bleak, be sure to sit with your horse in the shelter and talk to him, groom him, and just be with him. He'll appreciate your company and it keeps the two of you connected. It will also help you to look forward to the better winter riding days, and the warmer days to come.
- Keep a regular grooming time in place during winter, no matter what the weather.
- If you can't get to your horse as often as you'd like because of winter conditions on roads, etc., have someone else check in on your horse regularly to make sure he's fine.
There is no greater aggravation than toting water in the cold when the pipes or hoses freeze. Plan now to get frost-free hydrants installed where the horses are watered. You will bless them daily as the temperatures stay below freezing. You still must remove and drain hoses each day.
When temperatures go below freezing it is easier to fill the buckets half full, if you can check them more frequently. This will keep you from coming down to a bucket full of ice. A little ice on the top can be easily broken and removed. A little ice on the bottom can be defrosted with the water put on top. If frozen solid a few gallons of hot water will melt it.
Keeping troughs from freezing may require insulating or partially burying of the sides and covering the top, leave a hole large enough to allow the horses to drink. Make sure the trough is in the sunniest place available. Water heaters are available and water turbulence from pumps or aerators will prevent freezing. Whatever you do, you must prevent electric cables from being chewed.
3. Hoof care is more important when it is wetHooves may need special attention during the winter. Consider having the shoes removed if you will not be riding for three or more months. The nails weaken the walls and the shoe helps hold in dirt. Going barefoot will also toughen the soles. For problem feet there is no better prescription than being barefoot for several months. If ice is a serious problem where you live pulling the shoes may result in more slipping. Instead consider having the farrier add caulks to aid traction on frozen surfaces.
If your horse has problems with wall cracks that originate at the bottom you can do something to help. The cracks are usually due to excessive drying that comes from repeated wetting and drying.
Walls also crack from being allowed to grow too long. Regular application of a hoof wall sealant (avoid moisturizers) combined with timely trimming will insure that come spring his hoof walls will be ready to hold nails.
Another frequent problem in the winter is thrush, that black smelly goo around the frog. Though rarely a cause of lameness itself it can lead to other serious problems. Thrush prospers in a wet, dirty environment. A clean dry stall and regular hoof picking is all that is required to prevent the problem. If you already have the problem, a formalin-based hoof paint will quickly dry up the rotting mess.
Preparing Your Horse for WinterBy: Dr. Lydia Gray
Hot chocolate, mittens and roaring fires keep us warm on cold winter nights. But what about horses? What can you do to help them through the bitter cold, driving wind and icy snow? Below are tips to help you and your horse not only survive but thrive during yet another frosty season.
NutritionYour number one responsibility to your horse during winter is to make sure he receives enough quality feedstuffs to maintain his weight and enough drinkable water to maintain his hydration. Forage, or hay, should make up the largest portion of his diet, 1 – 2 % of his body weight per day. Because horses burn calories to stay warm, fortified grain can be added to the diet to keep him at a body condition score of 5 on a scale of 1 (emaciated) to 9 (obese). If your horse is an easy keeper, will not be worked hard, or should not have grain for medical reasons, then a ration balancer or complete multi-vitamin/mineral supplement is a better choice than grain. Increasing the amount of hay fed is the best way to keep weight on horses during the winter, as the fermentation process generates internal heat.
Research performed at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine showed that if during cold weather horses have only warm water available, they will drink a greater volume per day than if they have only icy cold water available. But if they have a choice between warm and icy water simultaneously, they drink almost exclusively from the icy and drink less volume than if they have only warm water available. The take home message is this: you can increase your horse's water consumption by only providing warm water. This can be accomplished either by using any number of bucket or tank heaters or by adding hot water twice daily with feeding. Another method to encourage your horse to drink more in winter (or any time of the year) is to topdress his feed with electrolytes.
ExerciseIt may be tempting to give your horse some "down-time" during winter, but studies have found that muscular strength, cardiovascular fitness and overall flexibility significantly decrease even if daily turnout is provided. And as horses grow older, it takes longer and becomes more difficult each spring to return them to their previous level of work. Unfortunately, exercising your horse when it's cold and slippery or frozen can be challenging.
First, work with your farrier to determine if your horse has the best traction with no shoes, regular shoes, shoes with borium added, shoes with "snowball" pads, or some other arrangement. Do your best to lunge, ride or drive in outside areas that are not slippery. Indoor arenas can become quite dusty in winter so ask if a binding agent can be added to hold water and try to water (and drag) as frequently as the temperature will permit. Warm up and cool down with care. A good rule of thumb is to spend twice as much time at these aspects of the workout than you do when the weather is warm. And make sure your horse is cool and dry before turning him back outside or blanketing.
BlanketingA frequently asked question is: does my horse need a blanket? In general, horses with an adequate hair coat, in good flesh and with access to shelter probably do not need blanketed. However, horses that have been clipped, recently transported to a cold climate, or are thin or sick may need the additional warmth and protection of outerwear.
Horses begin to grow their longer, thicker winter coats in July, shedding the shorter, thinner summer coats in October. The summer coat begins growing in January with March being prime shedding season. This cycle is based on day length—the winter coat is stimulated by decreasing daylight, the summer coat is stimulated by increasing daylight. Owners can inhibit a horse's coat primarily through providing artificial daylight in the fall but also by clothing their horse as the temperature begins to fall. If the horse's exercise routine in the winter causes him to sweat and the long hair hampers the drying and cooling down process, body clipping may be necessary. Blanketing is then a must.
HealthThere are a number of health conditions that seem to be made worse by the winter environment. The risk of impaction colic may be decreased by stimulating your horse to drink more water either by providing warm water as the only source or feeding electrolytes. More time spent inside barns and stalls can exacerbate respiratory conditions like "heaves" (now called recurrent airway obstruction), GI conditions like ulcers, and musculoskeletal conditions like degenerative joint disease. Control these problems with appropriate management—such as increasing ventilation in the barn and increasing turnout time—and veterinary intervention in the form of medications and supplements.
Freeze/thaw cycles and muddy or wet conditions can lead to thrush in the hooves and "scratches," or, pastern dermatitis, on the legs. Your best protection against these diseases is keeping the horse in as clean and dry surroundings as possible, picking his feet frequently, and keeping the lower limbs trimmed of hair. Another common winter skin condition is "rain rot," caused by the organism Dermatophilus congolensis. Regular grooming and daily observation can usually prevent this problem, but consult your veterinarian if your horse's back and rump develop painful, crusty lumps that turn into scabs.
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I hope you enjoyed my Winter Tricks and Techniques post! I think there was more winter advice then tricks and techniques. I think it turned out nicely though and am very appreciative for the people who participated!
Special thanks to Ruffles and American Girl! Thank you!