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How to Care for Horse in Winter

(February 2, 2010)

Given the fact that horses are commonly viewed as being very hardy animals, not many people are aware of the fact that any domesticated horse needs a significant change in lifestyle during the winter months in order to get it through the period unscathed. In most cases, they merely need protection from the wind and wet climatic conditions and will remain comfortable during the dips in temperature. Providing the animal with a south facing, three sided shelter will provide the animal with the perfect home for the winter, but make sure that the shelter is wider than it is deep otherwise you may find some of the ore timid horses skeptical of venturing into the shelter. While most stabled horses are blanketed when they step out during the day, it is important to remember that a blanket that is not warm enough is worse than having no blanket at all. The horses own coat is probably its best blanket. During the cold winters the horses fur on its coat will stand up and trap any warmth near the body, a blanket will keep the fur flat and prevent this from happening, which means that a blanket that is not warm enough could have very disastrous circumstances.

Because of the fact that the winter conditions will significantly reduce pasture quality, you will need to increase the hay content in your animals feed. The fact that hay is one of the best heat sources for your animal makes it very beneficial. The hay is digested in the cecum and colon of the animal’s body, thereby producing heat by bacterial fermentation. Even though it is normally forgotten, having your horse undergo an oral examination just before the onset of winter will help identify if the animal is eating his or her food properly and thereby getting all the required nutrients and energy out of it as this goes a long way into producing internal warmth. Water is extremely essential to the horse diet, but it will not be consumed if it is too cold. As a result, it is imperative that you make sure the temperature of the water is much higher than that of the climatic conditions in order to encourage the animal to consume the required amounts. Making sure the horse’s hooves are in good condition is essential for the upkeep of the animal during the winter. Well trimmed hooves tend to chip much less, provide a better grip on the slippery ground as well as hold less snow.

Submitted by M A on February 2, 2010 at 04:57


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