Winter Care for Your Horses
Abby Remillard, Lifestyle Feed Specialist, Equine Nutrition
 
                Ready or not, winter is here! Keeping your horses warm, comfortable, conditioned and properly fed can be difficult during the hard winter months. Here are some tips to make you and your horses’ comfortable and happy.
  • Keeping your horse warm: Horses create heat when during digestion. Having a hefty supply of forage for your horse can keep their internal temperature higher which will keep them more comfortable.
 
  • Water: Water is a vital part of keeping your horse healthy. Studies have shown that horses drink more water when it is warmer than air temperature in the winter. Using a water heater in all water buckets, or outside troughs will increase your horses water intake. This will also support healthy digestion! Rubber buckets are easier to clean during winter and will not shatter if they freeze.
 
  • Adjusting rations as needed: Majority of the time you will need to adjust your forage and grain rations to balance out the loss of fresh grass. Horses are used to getting more sugars and fiber in the pasture grass that will then need to be supplemented to keep the weight on your horse. TIP: Have your hay tested to see what the mineral content is. You can then decide if you need to also supplement minerals to support your horse.
 
  • Overall health: As always, have your horses’ teeth checked to ensure that they are able to properly grind their food to get their nutrient requirements. It is also recommended to look for snow build up in your horses’ hooves. This can make it difficult for your horse to walk and in time, make your horse lame. Keeping your horses’ hooves properly trimmed will help decrease the amount of snow trapped in the hooves.
 
  • After Exercise: If your only option is to ride or work your horse outside during the winter, walk the area first to find any hard chunks of snow, icy spots or other hazards that could cause your horse to slip or hurt themselves or you. If your horse becomes sweating during work, whether that be lunging, groundwork, or riding, leave your horse inside until it is cooled down and any sweat has dried.
 
  • Blankets/Shelter: Your horse will thank you if you put a blanket on during very cold and windy days. The blanket acts as extra insulation to keep your horse more comfortable. Be sure to check daily for any rubbing or sore spots from the blankets. Provide shelter for your horse to keep them out of really bitter winds or falling snow.
Any questions, or to have your hay sampled for nutritional content, contact Abby Remillard, at 920-902-0829 or aremillard@cvcoop.com.