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Winter Care for Horses


winter horses eating hayKeeping horses healthy in winter is just as important as keeping them cool during the summer. Here are some tips to help you keep your equines safe and secure this coming winter.

1. Monitor their food. Switch to concentrates and hay as pasture quality and accessibility decline. Feed outdoor horses more hay as it helps to produce heat during digestion and add minerals in the winter to help make sure everyone is getting what they need.

2. Make sure they have a dental checkup before winter rolls around so that you're sure they're able to grind up their food and receive every available nutrient.

3. Smear the bottom of your horses hooves with vasoline or other petroleum jelly product and clip heavy coats if horses are ridden often. Be warned, however, that a clipped coat MUST have a blanket and be stabled as their coat no longer provides natural insulation. In general, if temperatures become frigid or windy a coat is a good idea. A wet coat will not hold heat and wind pulls heat away.

4. Keep hooves trimmed. They will chip less and hold less snow as well as providing more grip on icy or slippery ground. Check under blankets every single day for chaffing or irritation. Grooming is just as important in the winter months as it is during the spring and summer.

5. Provide shelter even if they are stabled all night. They may need to get out of the wind during the day.

6. Deworm regularly and deworm for bot larvae. 

7. Make sure that water is available and doesn't freeze over. Consider rubber buckets. They're more money upfront but last longer.

8. Make sure that bedding and housing is clean and warm while being well ventilated but free from drafts.

9. If you ride your horse in the winter plan ahead. Remember that winter days are shorter and prep will take longer. Check the terrain and look for ice or mud that could cause your horse to slip. A horse that slips risks breaking a leg. Add deicing agents where necessary.

10. Prep your tack by doing things such as warming the bit before you place it in the horses mouth. Groom them before a ride and consider using an exercise sheet during riding to keep them from getting too cold. Tack up in a location that is not muddy or icy and has good footing. Cool your horse down properly after a ride. This is the time they can catch a chill so be sure they stay warm and dry.


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