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Is Your Horse Ready for Winter?

As the winter months approach, reviewing some key elements and helpful tips will help you and your horse have an easier winter. The winter season can be difficult for some horse owners, but a little preparation and tips can go a long way.

As temperatures drop, keeping water tanks from freezing over can become a challenge. Thankfully, in the day and age we live in, there are several options to help with providing water for your horse in winter weather, such as heated buckets, coil heaters and insulted bucket covers. For water tanks that are outside, removing ice both morning and evening is preferred. Horses drink up to 8-10 gallons of water a day, but sometimes in the winter months your horse may drink less. A decrease in water consumption can lead to colic, so make sure your horse drinks an adequate amount. Providing a salt block can insure your horse will drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
Plan on feeding your horse extra hay through the winter months, especially on cold days. Since hay digests slowly, providing your horse with a consistent supply of hay to eat throughout the day will help him generate fuel to heat his body and keep him warm. If your horse is accustomed to being turned out to pasture and grazing all day, giving him hay to chomp on to fill his belly is a must.
The warmest natural coat isn’t always enough to protect your horse from cold temperatures. A strong wind can cut right through it and a wet coat can quickly lose its insulating ability.
Not everyone has a heated barn, but, making sure your horse has a proper windbreak is one of the main things in the winter nights. A three-sided run in shed, or even a couple round bales of hay can give them a break from the wind.
Keeping up with your horse’s normal exercise can be a challenge in the winter months, especially for those who don’t have a indoor arena. If the footing is safe, do what you can to keep him moving around. Lunging your horse or even just going for a walk can be good for him. Through the winter, it’s tempting for us to always want to keep our horses inside out of the elements and cold temperatures, but your horse would most likely rather be outside! Turning him out during the day will give him some exercise and give him something to do or to look forward to.
Not every horse may need a blanket in the winter. If possible, allow your horse’s coat to grow during the winter months. Its natural thickness provides your horse with the extra insulation needed to keep the body warm. However, some older horses may need help keeping warm with a blanket. If you blanket your horse, it’s important to take them off regularly and to check for rubbing or any discomfort. Be sure to keep the horse blanket clean and dry, or it won’t be doing it’s job properly.

Article written by: Josie Loehr

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  • Penny King, Oblong IL

    I can’t say enough about Dr. Stone & his staff. They go above & beyond & take the extra mile to take care of your horses needs. They really care about what your horse really needs.

    They have been up all night with emergency colic surgery with a positive outcome. They saved a foal that was born three weeks early. I can’t even begin to tell everything we have been thru together. But I can tell you one thing, they don’t come any better than Dr. Stone & his staff. They are like family to our horses & us.”