Attention horse people: winter is coming up! Yes, that means WEF, which is cool, but it also means a few changes in your horse care habits since temperature gets cool too. Find a few essential tips below to help you look out for your buddy during these winter months.
Think of digestion as the fire in the horse’s stomach that keeps it warm. Hence, horses burn more calories naturally during winter months. This means more food in order to prevent weight loss and specifically more hay due to its fiber content. Fiber is what makes the horse’s digestion functional and thus prevents a body temperature drop.
Since the weather itself is not making the horses crave water they usually lower their water intake. However, more water is essential due to the increase of food in order to aid digestion. Impaction Colic, which is a blockage that forms due to feed material obstruction in the large colon, is more common in winter due to a lack of water intake and increase food intake.
SALT + ELECTROLYTES
There’s a reason for the old proverb that states “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”. Like most humans, most horses don’t drink enough water. Salt and electrolytes are the solution. Besides providing horses with essential minerals, these trigger their thirst instinct making them rehydrate.
Blankets protect horses from the cold weather. These are a basic winter need, however, it is crucial to pay attention if the blanket becomes too warm and the horse’s sweat makes it wet. A wet blanket is (obviously) counterproductive. Remember: horses do have a higher tolerance to low temperatures than we do, so “sweater weather” doesn’t automatically mean blankets.
If your tack is usually outside or the tack room adopts a similar temperature to the one outdoors then it is important to mind the bits. Bits are usually made of metal or synthetic metal, materials that are thermal conductors and will thus feel colder than the low temperature weather. Warm them up by rubbing them against fabric in order to avoid freezing your horse’s mouth.
Last but not least, keep yourself warm! Your health is important for your horse’s health too!
By: Alexia Thermiotis