Learning how to keep your horse warm in winter is one of the ways you can keep your horse healthy all year long. Severe cold and weather can affect your horse but they tend to be cold hardy and able to adapt well with a little effort on your part. Here is an overview of winter horse care:
Stables and Shelter
Your horse will grow a winter coat to help keep him warm in the winter. Having a stable or shelter is a good idea too. Your stable should be well ventilated but free of drafts. Keep fresh bedding on hand and clean the stable often in winter to prevent disease and respiratory problems from occurring. Remove any hazards that might tempt your horse or cause injury. Be sure and get your horse out of the stable often and allow them to get fresh air and adequate exercise. Remember that a horse can handle cold better than we can.
Riding Your Horse in Icy Conditions
You should be aware of the terrain your riding in before you set out. Avoid any area that may cause slipping like deep snow, icy patches and wet slopes. If there are muddy areas around the barn, add salt or sawdust to keep you and your horse from slipping. Be sure and take extra care of your horse’s hooves. Mud can cause thrush and a well-trimmed hoof can grip better in icy conditions. Adding petroleum jelly or non-stick cooking spray can help prevent ice and snow from lodging in the hooves.
Groom your horse before and after riding. Before riding, grooming can warm up the muscles and prepare you and him for a ride. After you ride, you want to make sure you cool down your horse properly. A sweaty hot horse can get chilled quickly. Dry your horse completely with towels using a circular motion or if your horse will permit it, use a blow dryer. Remember dry cold is okay, wet cold isn’t. Brush your horse’s coat after it’s dry to allow warm air to circulate. Add a blanket if your horse needs one. A young horse that is sheltered usually doesn’t need a blanket. Keeping a blanket on your horse that is too hot or doesn’t breathe will cause unwanted moisture to build up. Blankets are more important in rainy cold weather but don’t add a blanket to a wet horse.
Your horse is susceptible to respiratory illness during the winter. Ammonia buildup in the stall or stable, mold and dust can cause respiratory problems. Keeping your barn well ventilated, dry and clean can help. Be sure and get your horse out and in the fresh air often. Skin ailments are also common in winter. Your Veterinarian in Lexington can help if you notice problems with the skin. Rain-rot, bed itch, lice, ringworm and infections can spring up and cause a host of problems. Keep your horse clean and groomed and medicate them properly.
How to Keep Your Horse Warm In The Winter
Provide fresh hay for your horse. Horses warm up as they digest the hay. Make sure your water is warm and not frozen too. Dehydration can cause colic and an unhealthy horse. Don’t forget to spend plenty of time with your horse. If you are unable to attend to your horse because of weather conditions make sure someone is available to keep an eye on your horse and take good care of him. If you have any questions about horse care or if you suspect your horse needs veterinary care, call Locust Trace Veterinary Clinic and they will be happy to help you.