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Equine Cold Weather Care: Tips to Keep Your Horse Healthy in Winter

During the winter season it's crucial to pay extra attention to the well-being of your animals. Extreme cold weather can pose various challenges to their health and comfort. In this article, we will provide you with tips and insights on equine cold weather care. It is important to remember that donkeys, foals, geriatric, sick, injured, or wet horses, or those not acclimatized to the environment are more susceptible to the cold weather. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your beloved horses stay happy, healthy, and comfortable throughout the winter months.

Providing Shelter

One of the most important aspects of equine cold weather care is ensuring adequate shelter (constructed or natural) for your horses. Shelter is essential to protect them from harsh weather conditions such as wind, rain, and snow. Ensure that the shelter provides a safe environment for your horses.

Feeding Horses in Winter

During winter, horses require additional calories to maintain their body temperature. Feeding extra hay is highly recommended as it helps generate heat during digestion. Monitor your horse's body condition and adjust the diet accordingly to ensure they receive the necessary nutrition. Consult with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist for personalized feeding recommendations.

Water Supply for Horses

Access to fresh, unfrozen water is crucial for horses during winter. It is essential to provide them with a constant supply of water. Consider using heated water buckets or tank heaters to prevent freezing and remember to check the water regularly. Warm water can also be provided to encourage horses to drink more during the cold weather. Remember, snow and ice are not sufficient water sources for horses.

Hoof Care During Winter

Regular hoof care is necessary to keep your horse's hooves healthy during winter. Schedule regular hoof trimming and check for any issues such as cracks or thrush. Provide a clean and dry area for hoof care to prevent problems and discomfort. Consult with a professional farrier for proper hoof maintenance.

Blanketing Horses in Cold Weather

Blanketing can provide additional protection for horses during extreme cold weather, especially if they have a short coat or are clipped. Ensure that the blanket fits properly and does not cause any discomfort or rubbing. Regularly check the blanket  for any signs of wear and tear, and check your horse under the blanket as well as to assess your horses body condition and identify any rubbing, sores or heat stress.

Exercise Tips for Winter

Regular exercise is essential for keeping your horse's muscles and joints healthy, even during winter. However, it's important to adjust the exercise routine based on weather conditions. Avoid overexertion or injury by considering indoor exercises or shorter outdoor sessions during milder weather. Always prioritize the safety and well-being of your horse.

Remember: Each Horse is Unique

By implementing these tips and seeking personalized advice from a veterinarian or equine professional, you can ensure that your horse stays happy, healthy, and comfortable throughout the winter season.

Remember, each horse is unique, and their care may vary based on individual needs. Stay attentive to their well-being and make adjustments as necessary. With proper care and attention, you can enjoy the winter season with your equine companion by your side.  If you have questions or concerns over the proper care of your horse, please contact your veterinarian.

Resources / Further Reading

Winter Care - Alberta SPCA

Winter horse care tips - World Horse Welfare

Caring for your horse in the winter | UMN Extension

AFAC - Winter Horse Care