As a horse owner, you must be well familiar with how harsh the winters can be for your horse. Blanketing and heating the barns are some of the most common measures taken to keep horses warm but overdoing it will only make the situation worse. From forage to shelter arrangements, everything needs to be set at a frequency to ensure that your horse stays comfortable, but not too comfortable. Your buddy has a right to enjoy the snow and the sun, and to ensure that he remains well even on the coldest of days, here are a few tips to keep him in good shape and get him ready for the soon coming bright sunny days. Read on.
1. Natural warming is the key
While many riders and horse owners believe in warming their horses with blankets and insulated barns, they forget that horse’s coat is enough to keep him comfortable. The best thing that you can do is ensure that he is adequately fed and staying hydrated. When the horse is feeling cold, he shivers. As soon as you notice the shivers, feed the hay and water in right amounts. The function of digestion produces enough heat in the horse’s body to keep him warm. Make sure you feed your horse only high-quality hay which is full of proteins and carbohydrates. Now, if you are wondering how much should you feed to keep him happy and warm, then the following point is the answer for you.
2. Focus on the amount of hay and water he consumes
Let’s make it simple for you. A horse needs 2% more forage for every degree drop below 32-degree Fahrenheit. If the temperature is 27 degrees, then your horse will need 10% more feed in his entire day’s consumption (32-27=5; 5×2%= 10%). The forage amount could change every day considering the temperature moderation so keep an eye out for it. Coming to the water intake, since your horse won’t be able to enjoy the fresh moist grass, he will need more water to digest the hay. Horses tend to avoid drinking water in winters so make sure that he drinks at least 12 gallons a day for better digestion.
3. Precautions in wet weather
A wet horse can be cold very soon which will affect his health in the cold months adversely. Though the horse’s coat is designed to shed the water and leave his skin dry, if your blanketed horse gets wet then you need to be cautious about what might happen next. In case you can predict the weather, opt for a waterproof blanket which will easily shed water and not leave your horse chilled. Otherwise, it’s better to tuck your horse inside his shelter and let him out only once the rain has stopped.
4. Tricks to make the blankets work
As mentioned earlier, the hair coat and plenty of food work incredibly in keeping the horse warm during the freezing weather. However, if you are a protective horse parent and want to blanket him for ease, there are a few specific things to keep in mind. Always opt for a breathable heavy blanket so that your horse doesn’t get sore skin and also he can regulate his body temperature midday if you are not around to remove the coverage. Moreover, once your horse gets familiar to the concept of a blanket, you cannot leave it midway. Arrange for a spare one immediately when the other blanket needs to be cleaned if you don’t want to see your horse suffer.
5. Keep him warm and comfortable while riding
Since you and your horse both enjoy the rides, make sure that you are both comfortable. Don’t forget to wear country boots to keep your feet sealed from the winds and freezing weather and a nice warm jacket too. As for your horse, if he is a nasty one who loves to roll down the paddocks, then a turnout blanket will do the trick for you. Also if your horse is body clipped, then make sure that you use a quarter sheet before taking him out in the snow.
Who said that winters couldn’t be fun for you and your horse? Use these tips to your advantage and have a fun winter season without catching a cold!