Tips to survive through winter

January 15, 2020

Tips to survive through winter

If horses in the wild can adapt very easily to any weather conditions, it is more difficult for our horses who are used to more comfort. Winter can be particularly tough for some of them. Here is some advice to help your horses go through winter with ease.

A comfy place to stay

Outside or inside, the first thing to care about is that your horse has a nice shelter where he can be protected from the cold. If he stays outside, make sure the shelter is clean and dry. You can add a thick layer of straw on the floor to keep him comfortable.

In the stables, the temperature should be around 15°C. The air flow should also be good enough to avoid any respiratory issues, and to evacuate humidity. The layer of straw or shavings should also be thick enough.

A warm rug

You can choose to clip your horse or not during winter, depending on his activity and health. If your horse is not clipped, you should just be careful that his coat is thick enough. If he is clipped, you need to choose an adapted rug. Outside, your horse will need a strong waterproof rug to face any weather conditions. Inside, he will need a comfy one with a filling adapted to the temperature. The colder the air gets, the bigger the filling is!

An adapted meal

Outside or inside, your horse will need to eat more to face cold weather. He will first need a lot of hay – between 12 and 15kg a day for a 600kg horse – even if he is outside, as the grass may not be sufficient and/or frozen. The hay can be given in 3 separated portions or even at will. This is actually the best for your horse’s stomach to have something to eat over the day. In the stables, besides hay in the same quantity, you can also add cereals to your horse’s daily meals. Be certain to adapt the quantity to your horse’s needs, regarding his activity, age and health. Also, it is important that every horse has enough minerals.

Water in profusion

One major problem of winter is frozen trough! Be careful and check that your horses have access to water anytime. You can place a piece of wood in the trough, so it won’t freeze. For horses outside, know that snow cannot replace water: if horses eat it, it may provoke colics as it is too cold for the stomach.

Warming up & Cooling down

It is as difficult for horses to run in the winter as it is for us! Make sure your horse walks a lot before starting a more intense activity. You can start to walk beside your horse: it is a good way to warm both of you up! At the end of your training session, walks again for a while to evacuate sweat. You may need to use a cooler rug to dry your horse after, before putting back his stable rug or turning him out. You may also need a riding rug, so your horse is not too cold when you start/finish your training sessions.

Worms & legs

As humans, we know that we are more exposed to diseases in winter. This is also true for horses! No need to add more stress to their organisms with worms. Make sure to deworm your horse during winter to avoid any loss of weight. Legs are also a concern if your horse spends time outside. You should always check out for injuries that may be a sign of mud fever. In case of doubt, always check with your vet.

Watch out for slippery floors

Last but not least: be careful with slippery floors! If your horse has horseshoes, it can be very difficult for him to stand on icy roads for example. If your horse stays outside, you can cover the icy spots with sand to avoid any accident.

We wish you a happy and healthy winter with your horses!

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