As the nights draw in and evenings in by the fire become more tempting, it’s important not to neglect the needs of your horse! Equine care during winter can come with its own challenges, and it’s always best to be prepared for the season ahead. We spoke to our horse health expert to find out their tips for getting your horse ready for winter.
Get your rug ready
A large number of horse owners rug their animals over winter, so now is the time to make sure your rug is in good shape. Ensure to check under your horse’s rug regularly, checking for rubs, sores and to make sure your horse isn’t overheating.
If your horse is in work, you might want to have them clipped so that they don’t sweat excessively while exercising. There are a number of clip variations they can have, so make sure to pick one that’s appropriate to your horse.
Keep them fed and warm
The time your horse spends stabled tends to increase during winter, so you should get enough forage and bedding to see you through the season. Ordering in advance can be wise, to avoid any potential delays in supply.
Check the water
With cold temperatures, water can freeze. Remember to check your horse’s sources of water frequently. If your horse has an automatic water feeder, keep a spare bucket of water handy in case the pipes freeze. You can also put a ball in water or add warm water to help prevent it from freezing over.
Mind the ice
If you’re about to lead your horse across the yard, make sure to check for patches of ice first. Scattering salt or grit, and putting straw, shavings or sand down can help to increase traction and limit the chances that they might slip.
Watch out for their hooves
Your horse’s hooves can suffer during periods of cold weather, so keep checking them over winter. Coating the underside of their feet with petroleum jelly might help prevent snow from compacting in their hooves.
Clear the snow
If you’ve had significant snowfall, you’ll need to clear away some of the snow before letting your horse out to pasture. You might decide to keep them stabled in the snow, in which case you’ll need to feed them additional forage.
Before the bad weather really starts to set in, check that any shelter you provide for your horse is adequate. Look for any holes in the roof and make sure they’ll protect your horse from strong wind and heavy rain. Remember also to regularly muck them out!
Keep your box running
Cold weather can have adverse effects on vehicle batteries and engines if they’re left stationary for long periods. Start your horse box up regularly to make sure it’s in working order in case of emergency. You’ll also want to keep the washer fluid and antifreeze topped up.
Take care of your tack
Wintery conditions can take their toll on your tack. Conditioning and oiling it regularly can help to keep it looking and working its best. If your tack room is cold and damp, keeping your tack covered could increase its longevity.
Hopefully these tips will help both you and your equine friend get prepared for winter, and your horse will certainly thank you for it if you do! If you would like any more information or have any questions, we would recommend that you ask your vet for advice.
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